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Letter: Promoting active transportation in N.L.

Lemmon is a self-described aggressive cycler - always willing to take up an entire lane to let cars know he's there.
File photo

I was most interested in Juanita Mercer’s article “Taking the Bus to Better Health” in the May 28 edition of The Telegram. The article challenges us to be more physically active in daily life and even in our modes of transportation.

Active transportation is using your own energy to move from point A to point B. Walking, cycling, using a push wheelchair, ice skating, in-line skating and skateboarding are all examples of active transportation. Recently, the art of dory building has resurfaced and even rowing is another form of active transportation. 

As Mercer’s article indicates, active transportation should be promoted as a way to curb the development of chronic disease. This was highlighted at a recent “Active Transportation Summit” in Halifax as numerous presentations referenced the correlation between physical activity and a lowering of provincial health care costs.

Various communities and institutions throughout Newfoundland and Labrador are already engaged in promoting active transportation. For example, the Town of Eastport and Holy Cross School have received financial help under the “Community Healthy Living Fund” to develop a guide to empower groups across the province interested in developing recreational cycling programs, including building trails for mountain biking.  

Stephenville recently announced an additional 3.5 km of bicycle lanes to the existing 9 km. Happy Valley-Goose Bay (HV-GB) plans to hire a consultant to develop multi-use trails as the result of an active transportation study that produced valuable insight into the future direction of the bike and walking trail system in the community.

The Bike Task Force in St. John’s is fulfilling its mandate to review the Bike St. John’s Initiative. Similar to HV-GB, the capital city currently has a call for proposals to develop a revised bicycling master plan for the city. In addition, survey results in both communities indicate that 80-90 per cent of participants surveyed indicated a need for additional safe bicycle trails. Use of the Grand Concourse Trails throughout the city, similar to the multiuse trails in Mount Pearl, Paradise and Conception Bay South (C.B.S.), would enhance the mandate of the Bike St. John’s Initiative.

The Town of Paradise is currently completing a multi-use trail around Adam’s Pond similar to the existing Octagon Pond and Neil’s Pond trails. These trails connect with the Newfoundland T’Railway. The T’Railway presently offers a safe multiuse trail from Paradise to downtown St. John’s. Planning is underway to continue the T’Railway west of Octagon Pond to connect with the existing trail which extends to Seal Cove in C.B.S. and eventually further west to Holyrood. The finished product will make the T’Railway a world class trail. Imagine a safe, multiuse trail from Holyrood to Airport Heights.

Such a trail would be a fantastic transportation conduit through the communities. The ocean front vistas and natural beauty of the province would also be a major tourist attraction for cyclists, hikers and walkers.

As noted in Mercer’s article, researcher Daniel Fuller and Coun. Maggie Burton agree that it takes a variety of strategies and also input from diverse levels of government and the general public to promote change and to achieve goals of active transportation. The province of N.L. already has the basis of a good infrastructure for modes of active transportation. Next steps are to encourage more Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to use active transportation and also to promote active transportation as another attraction for the tourism industry.   

Kevin Flynn, President

Bicycle Newfoundland and Labrador

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