The Ontario Bike Summit is coming up surprisingly soon. The summit, usually held in the fall, has been switched to early summer due to the fall provincial election.
If you want to hear from the likes of Ontario Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne, Cycling England's former chair Phillip Darnton or Dutch ambassador to Canada (and cycling enthusiast) Wim Geerts, you'll have to find some time to travel to Ottawa on Monday, June 27 and Tuesday, June 28.
Ottawa is a hotbed for cycling. There were more politicians and cycling-associated representatives at the Velo-city Global 2010 in Copenhagen than from any other region of Canada. The Euro experience resulted in a visit to Ottawa by bicycle infrastructure advocate, the Danish architect Jan Gehl, and this year, the announcement of a bike-sharing program for the capital.
It's good to see that Phillip Darnton hasn't given up banging the drum, even after the British government slit his agency's throat this year as a part of broad cost-cutting effort. Here's Darnton's upbeat farewell message on the now-moribund Cycling England website. Darnton is also a keynote speaker at the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress in Melbourne in September.
His message, about investment in our health and communities, is such a basic one, that I don't understand why it is so hard to sell.
Why is it so difficult to get government to think of preventitive spending as investment? It is cheaper and more effective to keep sick people in their homes than to place them in hospital beds. It is cheaper and more effective to invest in education and support for the economically disadvantaged than to build prisons to house them if they become criminals. It is cheaper and more effective to encourage active transportation than it is to endlessly expand roads for more cars, and hospital wings to treat an increasingly obese and asthmatic population.
Are governments so caught up in building monoliths -- hospitals, jails -- that they have lost sight of the notion that we should be building a society?
Part of the messaging at the Bike Summit will be about the upcoming provincial election. Who to talk to. What to say. As at levery Bike Summit, there will be a panel of representatives from the provincial political parties. This year, you'll really want to hear what they have to say, and you'll really want them to hear what you have to say.