Brian Doucet, Associate Professor at the School of Planning, writes in the Waterloo Record this week, responding to another columnist who claimed that "we're never going to be bicycle-first cities."
Doucet writes, "As a researcher, I both lived in Netherlands and studied how the Dutch plan and build their cities. I have to disagree with D'Amato. Cheap gas and free parking are political decisions, as is the decision not to plow bike lanes in the winter."
"Recent successes can be seen in snowy Calgary, Montreal and Toronto, which show that where good cycling infrastructure is provided, people will use it... while Holland doesn't get as cold as Canada, it's still rainy and windy. And there is one feature that Canada has a huge advantage in: space. Canadian streets are wide and there is often underused space between the road and the sidewalk."
"Far more important than the natural features are the political choices that were made, and it's lazy to look at a city like Amsterdam and assume their cycling paradise has always been that way."
Doucet goes on to tell readers about the history of the Dutch that brought them to their current success and which actors played key roles. "With the right vision, there is no reason why we can't have a first-class cycling network in this region," he writes. "It will take time, money and political will. But with new provincial money available for cycling infrastructure and municipal elections coming next year, there is a chance to make some real changes to how people get around the region."