British Columbia

B.C. government wants to get commuters out of their cars

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation unveiled a new strategy Monday aimed at encouraging commuters of all ages and abilities to choose more active methods of transportation, such as walking, cycling, rollerblading and public transit.

Province wants to double number of trips by bike, scooter and public transit by 2030

Only 2.5 per cent of trips in all of British Columbia are taken by bike. (Robb Douglas/CBC)

The province has put forward a plan to get commuters in British Columbia to choose more active methods of transportation — like walking and cycling — and rely less on driving to get to their destinations.

The government's plan is to make active transportation safer and easier — whether it's walking, cycling, skateboarding, using a wheelchair, public transit or any combination of these and other modes of human-powered transportation.

Minister of Transportation Clare Trevena unveiled the Move, Commute, Connect strategy Monday afternoon at the B.C. Active Transportation Summit taking place in New Westminster.

"We all have a role to play in protecting our environment and for more and more people that means walking or cycling to get where they're going," said Trevena.

The province wants to double the percentage of trips taken with active transportation by 2030. According to the government, only 2.5 per cent of trips in B.C. are taken using bikes.

The Move, Commute, Connect strategy lays out incentives that can be implemented within a year and which the government hopes will encourage British Columbians of all ages and abilities to choose active transportation.

To make electric bikes more affordable, drivers who decide to scrap high-polluting vehicles will receive an $850 rebate to purchase an e-bike. 

Provincial infrastructure like highways and bridges will take into account active transportation during the design process, whether it's building separated lanes or clearing road shoulders.

"Everyone should be able to enjoy safe, accessible and convenient paths of active transportation," Trevena said.

B.C. Minister of Transportation Clare Trevena unveils her government's Move, Commute, Connect strategy to encourage travellers to choose human-powered transportation methods instead of driving. (CBC / Enzo Zanatta)

Other longer term changes include a review of the Motor Vehicle Act to include emerging transportation modes like electric bikes, scooters and skateboards, and working with ICBC to educate travellers on their rights and responsibilities.

In addition to reducing carbon footprints, Rita Koutsodimos with the B.C. Alliance for Healthy Living says giving people incentives to be active in their daily commutes carries a health bonus.

"For us this is really important because inactivity is a significant risk factor for numerous chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers."

Trevena didn't offer any details about how much the new strategy will cost the province, but said it will be implemented on the back of the BikeBC program — an initiative from the Ministry of Transportation to encourage municipalities to become more bike-friendly.