Thursday, 9 May 2013

Making it count - How riding a bike may effect my vote

Election day in BC is next Tuesday, and I am reaching the point where the messages all seems to be blending into one. Aside from the usual important election issues for me and my family - the environment, childcare, education - for the first time my vote is being influenced by something else: my ability to ride a bike easily and safely in and around where I live.

This election, the BC Cycling Coalition has started the Bike To Vote campaign, meant to encourage people to bike to their polling station on May 14th to place their vote. Cycling has been continually growing with regularity in BC, and so it seems only right that alternative transportation options like riding a bike are an important part of the parties' platforms. Thankfully, the BCCC has received statements from three of the major parties laying out how they will work to improve cycling and alternative modes of transportation in BC. You can see each of their statements here.

I realize that cycling is only one small fraction of a larger picture, but what is important for me is that the parties move away from focusing so much on car travel and look to the future. It has been reported time and again that fewer young people are spending money on car ownership, opting for public transit, car-share programs and riding bikes. The fact is that money is tight for most people, especially the younger generation, who are struggling to find well-paying jobs while also paying off high student loans. So providing these people with affordable transportation by investing in and creating more accessible options is a pretty important election issue.

There are many things I will keep in mind when placing my vote, but the fact that I chose to ride, as does my family, will certainly play a part in my decision. I appreciate the efforts of the BCCC in holding the parties' accountable to getting a clear message out about their intentions, and just hope whomever is elected honours their commitments. Most importantly, though, I encourage everyone who has the ability to vote to do so. Voting is a right not afforded to everyone, and not exercising that right, no matter how you get to that poll, is a waste. So walk, bus, bike or even drive...but be sure to vote!

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