Spokes Person

Matt Hopkins is a board member of the Penticton & Area Cycling Association and co-founder of the Penticton Bike Valet.

If you’re interested in Penticton being a city friendly to people who choose a bike for transportation, Tuesday was a very good day.

After more than a year of public consultation on the All Ages and Abilities Cycling Route, council voted unanimously in favour of staff’s recommendation to approve the specific route, and proceed to further public consultation on the chosen route.

From the south end of the city, the facility will go up South Main, then to Atkinson Street, then to Fairview Road and finally to Martin Street. In addition to the further public consultation, the City will go through a process to determine what the cost of the facility will be.

I’m really happy with the route that resulted. I like that is going to be quite linear. I like that it’s going to hit a lot of key amenities within the city including: Skaha Lake Park, Cherry Lane Shopping Centre, the Safeway complex, the library and continuing centrally through the downtown. I like how it will be quite flat. Because of how central the route will be, many Penticton residents will live within four or five blocks of the route.

There is no doubt the project will cost some money. The positive side of a project like this is that there are many infrastructure grants that are coming online that the City will be able to apply for to get the thing built.

Hopefully this project can get to a point of being shovel-ready before too long, as this is what will be required to apply for grants.

I understand that funding projects like this in the era of COVID can be tough.What I don’t understand is that how anyone could consider it expensive in the context of other transportation projects.

In my view, Penticton, like most other North American cities, has been set up in a way to keep our transportation costs high.

If you truly wanted to keep your transportation budgets low, you’d build great sidewalks, bike lanes, and public transportation options. Lastly, you’d devote a smaller amount to moving people around in two-ton individual metal boxes.

Yet, we do the exact opposite: we have an incomplete, unattractive, and unconnected sidewalk network, no safe cycling facilities (yet!) and bus service isn’t frequent enough to be used without a schedule. Our network for car transportation is basically entirely connected and complete, free car storage abundant.

Over the life span, this facility stands to not only save the city significantly in transportation costs, but also has the upsides of significant public health benefits and the potential to reduce automobile dependence.

As someone who has invested a lot of time into this project, it was nice to hear the council members speak solidly in favour. Katie Robinson was the first to comment. I have to say watching her speak so glowingly about the project gave me the warm and fuzzies.

I truly believe the project will be transformative for this city and the people who live here. I look forward to keeping the momentum going.

Matt Hopkins is a board member of the Penticton & Area Cycling Association and co-founder of the Penticton Bike Valet.