MOUNTAIN LIFE - Blue Mountains | Fall 2018

48 ML BLUE FALL 2018 words :: Noelle Wansbrough Collingwood made the front page of the Toronto Star last summer due to the apparent “Cycling Wars” in the area. The dramatic increase in cyclists and the issues over sharing the road have put Collingwood on the map as one of Ontario’s best-known and contentious cycling destinations. So how do we keep the peace? Collingwood offers some of the best road and mountain biking in the province. Recent reports from the Ministry of Tourism show that our region (Bruce-Grey-Simcoe) is the most visited in Ontario for cycling, a trend that doesn’t show signs of reversing. The area also has more bike shops per capita and it’s all because of our roads and our terrain. The Escarpment provides climbs to challenge cyclists, scenery is great, roads are good and it’s a very sporty community. And being just 1.5 hours from the GTA is our gift—cycling tourism brings significant investment and jobs. The problem? Our area is growing quickly, with more drivers and cyclists on the roads than ever before. A priority for everyone including enforcement officers, drivers and cyclists is better education and understanding of the law. Ontario has a one-metre safe passing law, so anyone driving must leave a minimum clearance of one metre from a person on a bike when passing. Where roads are narrow, this may mean that drivers have to wait until the road ahead is clear before changing lanes to make their pass. Drivers, remember that cyclists are your neighbours and fellow community members, so please be patient and give them the space they need to get home safely. The Town of Collingwood and Town of the Blue Mountains recently invested significant funds in cycling infrastructure. Both have received Bicycle Friendly Communities Awards from the Share the Road Cycling Coalition at the Bronze (Collingwood) and Silver level (TOTBM) for their efforts to build new cycling infrastructure and developing programs to make cycling safer and more accessible. In Collingwood, over 70km of trails connect the town to surrounding neighbourhoods and in the Blue Mountains, trails and paved shoulders carry thousands of riders every weekend. In 2017, the Ontario government committed $93 million to new cycling projects around the province as part of the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling (OMCC) fund, supported by Ontario’s Carbon Cap and Trade program. As part of that funding, Collingwood received $113,000 which provided a community cycling plan and some additional infrastructure improvements, including new bike parking and wayfinding signage. Grey County also received $530,650 in funding through the OMCC. Most of this will be spent on paved shoulders on county roads, with $16,000 going towards the purchase of bike counters, and $16,000 towards a Cycling and Trails Master Plan. Unfortunately the new provincial government recently cancelled this funding (along with the Cap and Trade program) so the future of financial support from the Province is now in question. However, the Town will continue to build new trails and bike lanes using municipal funding instead. While the infrastructure in Collingwood is progressing, there are issues outside of town for road cyclists. WHEEL WELL MARC LANDRY/BLUE MOUNTAIN RESORT CHANGING LANES Sharing the road in the Blue Mountains region & beyond