Meet London's Bicycle Mayor
The country just got its second bicycle mayor and she has plans for the Forest City.
“A bicycle mayor ? ” you may ask. What or who is a bicycle mayor?
“We have bike mayors all across the world. I believe I am number 43 and the numbers continue to grow. We have need for bike advocacy to build better bike infrastructure,” explained Shelley Carr.
Carr’s voluntary appointment as the official bike advocate for London sees the establishment of the BYCS program for the first time in Ontario. BYCS is a bicycle advocacy enterprise based out of Amsterdam. Their vision is to have bikes take over half of all city trips by the year 2030.
The bicycle mayor’s duty is to identify the needs of each city for achieving this vision. In London, there are two issues - bike thefts and unsafe biking routes - which plague cyclists. Both of which, Shelley is all too familiar with.
“About three years ago, I had my bike stolen. I was one of the lucky few because I managed to steal it back,” she laughs as she recounts her incident.
Shelley is now petitioning for the city to install 150 bicycle lockers at 15 parking lots in the downtown area.
“UWO is one of the very first organizations in the city to actually incorporate bike lockers into their infrastructure,” she observed about the university’s bicycle culture which has its sights set on a car-free campus.
Western enjoys the privilege of being accessible by the Thames Valley Parkway yet, there are issues regarding safety, especially for women. Furthermore, theTVP is inaccessible at night and during the winter months. For this reason, Carr hopes to see more protected bike paths on city roads.
“One of my goals in the next two years is to see an additional 5 kms of protected bike infrastructure put in to London,” she said. “ The fact that we have 1.2 kms of protected bike lanes which we didn’t have two years ago says a lot and we can easily times that five,” she continued.
That 1.2 kms of protected bike lane lies on King Street. It moves cyclists West-East from Ridout Street to Colborne. Since its inauguration on June 13th, city council has already demanded its removal. Twice. Ironically, city hall is also entertaining a bikeshare program which, Carr emphasises will still require protected bike lanes for achieving its intended benefits.
Another anti-bike-theft solution Carr has proposed is Project 529, a nationwide registry for bicycles. Imagine VIN for bikes. It tracks your stolen bike across the nation, making the recovery process much more likely. In Shelley’s experience, only one of the 32 missing bikes listed on her Facebook group - London Ontario Stolen Bike Report - have been recovered.
“I approached London Police Services Board in the hopes that they’ll Project 529. The fact that they haven’t adopted it though we’ve been working on it for two years is of concern to me,” she said.
“We’re a little late to the party but don't worry it’s going to happen. Just got to do the work,” she said.