VERNON - Cycling enthusiasts are gearing up to get a bit more organized in the Vernon area.
The Greater Vernon Cycling Advisory Committee has been around for roughly a decade, but members say the current structure isn’t getting the job done. Representative Bruce Mol says they’re looking to reorganize and take a more aggressive approach to lobbying for funding and cycling infrastructure improvements in the city.
“We’re looking to add a bit more clout,” Mol says.
The timing is partly due to the impacts of committee restructuring that happened in 2014 at the City of Vernon. The transportation demand management group was absorbed into a new transportation committee that also looks at parking and accessibility issues, and the cycling group is no longer able to readily comment on infrastructure, Mol says.
The group is considering forming a cycling coalition to leverage funds and push for better, timelier cycling infrastructure.
“The scale and scope of Vernon’s projects is good, but Vernon is a small town with a small budget. We’re looking at 2023 for the completion of something that happens over the course of a summer in Vancouver,” Mol says.
He points out the Polson Greenway project, a multi-use transportation corridor connecting the north end of the city with the south, as a great project, but one with a long timeline.
“We want the connections to happen a bit more aggressively. We want it finished so we can move onto other projects,” Mol says. “There’s so many plans, people don’t have to worry about plans. Whether or not they’re all going to happen in our lifetime is completely different.”
The group is also seeking a more active role commenting on infrastructure plans so that when roads are repaired, the new pavement features bike lanes or at least wider shoulders.
The group held a community meeting Nov. 4 to gauge the public’s interest in next steps. The meeting was standing room only with more than 70 people in attendance, including local bike shops, cycling enthusiasts, and representatives from the City of Vernon.
“There’s a real desire by a good proportion of people living in Vernon to become a more transportation friendly and flexible community,” Mol says. “We don’t want to be dependent on moving around in cars for everything.”
Mol gives a nod to cities like Victoria and Vancouver where cycling infrastructure is wheels ahead, but insists it can be like that here in Vernon.
“I want my hometown to thrive, and I think the best way to do that is by making it a walkable, ridable city,” he says. “Now is the time to do it.”
Anyone looking for more information or to get involved can contact Mol at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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