The City of Stratford has been recognized by the Share the Road Cycling Coalition with an honourable mention as part of its Bicycle Friendly Communities award program.
The program, launched in Canada in 2010, provides guidance, inspiration and award recognition for communities that actively support bicycling. Judges evaluate a community based on achievements in engineering, education, encouragement and evaluation/planning, and provide feedback with recommendations for improvement.
“It’s important to be recognized for the efforts we are making because they’re going to lead to higher levels of achievements as far as safety goes,” said Jo-Dee Burbach, a city councillor and active transportation advisory committee ice-chair.
In Stratford, groups like the advisory committee, Cycle Stratford and Huron Perth public health have spearheaded a number of initiatives to make the city more bicycle friendly for people of all ages and abilities.
Those initiatives include advocacy for the installation of additional bike lanes and multi-use trails in Stratford, the addition of new post-and-ring and corral-style bicycle racks and increased education and awareness of bicycle safety and other active transportation issues.
Ten communities across Canada were awarded a new or higher BFC designation, while Bracebridge and Port Alberni, B.C., joined Stratford as honourable mentions. Stratford has 6.74 kilometres of bike lanes, 5.9 km of multi-use trails and nearly two kilometres of paved shoulders. The city is part of a county-wide initiative aimed at taking advantage of the growing interest in cycling during the pandemic.
“While no two communities at a given award level look the same, there is a shared commitment to provide residents and visitors with options and opportunities to cycle. There are many paths to becoming bicycle friendly,” said Dr. Ramanathan, Bicycle Friendly Communities manager at Share the Road. “Our … award program helps communities track their progress, learn from one another, and receive public acknowledgement for their efforts. The structure and feedback that we provide encourages continuous improvement over time.”
Burbach said the city is already on track to adapt two of the recommendations – integrating cyclists and pedestrians into the transportation master plan, which should be released by the end of the year, and looking at ways to make roads accessible to all users, resulting in zero street-related deaths.
“It’s exciting both of those pieces are getting us closer to the next level of safety,” she said.
Share the Road is an Ontario-based not-for-profit organization working to make communities across Canada bicycle friendly for people of all ages and abilities. It works in partnership with municipal, provincial and federal governments, the business community, road safety organizations and other not-for-profits.