Advocacy Conversations: Canada’s National Active Transportation Strategy

I was recently interviewed by Nicole Roach at Green Communities Canada about Canada's first-ever National Active Transportation Strategy. Jamie Hilland (Active School Travel Canada), Brian Pincott (Vélo Canada Bikes), and Brianna Salmon (Green Communities Canada) also participated in the discussion, highlighting their advocacy efforts to launch the strategy, and what this means for active transportation moving forward.

Throughout the discussion, we celebrated the strategy as a win. It's a big deal that the federal government has officially articulated a role for itself with regards to active transportation, and that this aspirational document is accompanied by $400 million in funding for infrastructure (including for planning and studies).

We also talked about possible improvements to the strategy for future years, including a clear process for revision and updates to this living document, the implementation of targets, metrics and performance indicators, broader and ongoing consultations particularly with traditionally underserved groups, and an increased focus on programming, skills training and equity-based initiatives.

And if you've been following my work on e-bikes and micro mobility, you won't be surprised to hear that I think the strategy needs more of both! 

Shortly before releasing the National Active Transportation Strategy, Transport Canada downloaded responsibility for defining electric bicycles to the provinces. This is likely to lead to a patchwork of differing definitions across jurisdictions that cause confusion and barriers for both riders and retailers trying to import bikes. At a time when interest in e-bikes is growing, and the federal government is assuming more of a role in active transportation, Transport Canada should have sought to update their existing definition, instead of downloading this responsibility.

This national effort could also be an important opportunity to increase access to shared micro mobility (e.g. bike share and scooter share). Communities around the world are investing in shared micro mobility as a fun, affordable, accessible, and healthy mode of transportation, but progress has been lagging in Canada. According to a State of the Industry report by the North American Bikeshare & Scootershare Association (NABSA), we only have seven cities with shared micromobility systems across the whole country. Shared micro mobility was noticeably absent from the strategy document, and funding for shared micro mobility systems has been restricted within the Active Transportation Fund Guidelines, with non-fixed, removable assets such as bikes for bike share systems ineligible for funding (non-removable infrastructure may be). Shared micro mobility supports should be a priority within this work.

You can read more in the full blog post by Green Communities Canada.

A huge thank-you to all of the advocates who worked hard to make the National Active Transportation Strategy a reality! 

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