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Province envisions a gigantic, inter-city cycling network

A draft report from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation says expanding bicycle infrastructure and providing greater incentives for people to climb in the saddle will help curb traffic congestion and ease strain on overcrowded roads and highways in the GTA.

Released in the wake of a coroner's report into bike deaths, the report also pitches a province-wide cycling network in the image of Quebec's Route Verte that would connect smaller local systems, possibly with the addition of bike lanes to existing and new provincial highways, except, of course, 400-series roads.

A established, well-marketed regional cycling network could prove a big draw for tourists. Quebec's route brings in $30,000 per kilometre, almost $100 million each year. Apart from the cash, such a system has the potential to take cars off the road and reduce the burden on Ontario's health care.

There are also provisions, though vague, for funding of new lanes on or through MoT infrastructure.

A key part of the report avoids recommending changes to the Highway Traffic Act, possibly killing off the idea of a 1-metre passing rule and other new protections for cyclists. Instead, the province says it will "undertake its own research, review the approaches of other jurisdictions, listen to the comments and concerns of stakeholders, including the Coroner, and consider the recommendations of other government bodies."

The document stops short of providing specific detail on the proposed bicycle network and doesn't go into much detail in other areas. Fingers crossed for something more tangible when it's finally finished. Until then, you can have your say here.

What do you think of a province-wide cycling network? Is this a good way of promoting tourism and encouraging cycling? What would you like to see added to the report?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo: "First bicycle ride of the year" by andyscamera from the blogTO Flickr pool.


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