#OBS18: 70% of Ontarians now live in a Bicycle Friendly Community

by Justin Jones, Program Manager, Share the Road Cycling Coalition

Tonight (Tuesday, April 17th), we are hosting our 10th Annual Ontario Bike Summit Awards Dinner. We are excited to have so many of our partners & stakeholders join us to celebrate 10 years of Share the Road — and to celebrate our latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) Award winners.

This most recent application round saw the City of Waterloo move up to a Gold-level BFC designation, joining Toronto and Ottawa in the race to become Ontario’s first Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community. Waterloo is also Ontario’s first mid-sized city to achieve a Gold designation.

The Town of Caledon and the Town of Cobourg were recognized with new Bronze Awards, bringing the number of Bicycle Friendly Communities in Ontario to 42.

During the dinner, we also recognized award winners from our winter 2017 round, including the Town of Ajax (Silver) and the City of Greater Sudbury (Bronze). The City of Kitchener renewed its Silver-level designation, and the City of Barrie received an Honourable Mention for their most recent application as well.

With 3 Gold, 8 Silver and 31 Bronze BFCs across Ontario — representing 70% of Ontario’s population — this province is well on it’s way towards achieving our collective goal of becoming the most bicycle-friendly place to ride a bike in North America. As Share the Road celebrates

Award Highlights

Waterloo becomes Ontario’s third municipality to earn a Gold-level BFC designation, thanks in large part to strong policies to design complete streets and new projects designed to connect people cycling to the Region of Waterloo’s new ION LRT system in a safe, convenient manner.

The Towns of Caledon and Cobourg have achieved Bronze after having both been engaged in the BFC Program for years and receiving Honourable Mentions in 2015. Like many other communities, they took the feedback prepared by our expert panel of judges and put that feedback into action. They created new programs and projects to make cycling more accessible in their communities, and now we’re pleased to see them receive their awards as a result of those investments.

Advancement up the BFC rankings is a pivotal part of the program — in the 8 years that the BFC program has been in operation, a total of 17 communities have moved up the rankings, taking advantage of the application process and the feedback provided to make their community a better place for people who ride bikes. The BFC Program encourages continuous improvement and municipalities are taking advantage of the feedback, as well as provincial investments in cycling infrastructure, to make cycling safer and more convenient for residents.

While the number of BFC communities continues to grow, the majority of communities are at the Bronze level. A Bronze community usually has a few good pieces of cycling infrastructure and programs to encourage cycling, but the overall experience of cycling in that community may not yet be entirely comfortable for riders of all ages and abilities. This is indicated of where Ontario is at when it comes to cycling — we are at the beginning stages of the work but momentum is building.

As we celebrate our 10th Anniversary, we are encouraged to see so many municipalities taking these first steps and demonstrating a commitment to cycling. We look forward to another decade of working in partnership with stakeholders across the province to build a province where everyone feels safer and comfortable riding bike.

The BFC Awards were handed out as part of the 10th Annual Ontario Bike Summit, taking place in Toronto on April 17th and 18th, 2018. You can follow along with the summit on social media using #OBS18