Christian Cowley, candidate Maple Ridge Council 2011
1. What modes of transportation do you normally use within your community and within Metro Vancouver?
I normally commute by automobile because I carry up to 3 children to school on rural roads that do not safely accommodate bicycles. In summer during school vacation, I ride my bicycle to work three out of four days. I have to carry gardening implements and volunteers as passengers on the fourth day. I enjoy bike commuting.
2. How would you support and encourage cycling for transportation – for people of all ages and abilities – to promote healthy and livable communities?
I do support and encourage cycling for transportation. We need some critical bike infrastructure to make it succeed. In addition to safe bikeways, we need bike lockers and bike lockups near commercial enterprises. I have been advocating for a decorative bike rack contest among local businesses since the last election. I hope to see this idea implemented.
3. There have been many surveys asking people what it would take to get them on a bike. The number one thing people want is separated cycling facilities. How would you support separated bike lanes on key routes? If you are not in support, please explain why.
I would take a serious look at creating an east-west separated lane for non-vehicular traffic on a major artery that bisects the downtown, most likely DTR. This would create direct linkages to north-south roadways, making it possible to shop and commute by bicycle in the core.
4. Maple Ridge has no off-road (non-mountain-) biking/multi-use trails and is lagging behind other Lower Mainland communities in this respect. How do you feel off-road biking/multi-use trails can benefit Maple Ridge, and how do you suggest to start developing a network of trails.
Biking and multi-use trails, combined with our equestrian trail network and the Trans Canada trail network all add up to an opportunity for eco-tourism. There is a definite business model for advancing the creation of these trails. I suggest we start with something like the recreational roadway proposed by the Alouette Valley Assoc. It would distinguish our town from others.
5. If elected, would you aim to increase or decrease cycling funding from current levels? Do you feel that cycling funding levels should merely reflect the present level of cycling in our communities, or should it reflect the potential of cycling – not only as a means of transportation and for recreation, but also in view of the many desirable benefits cycling has for individuals as well as for our communities/society, such as health benefits, improved livability, reduced greenhouse gasses/pollution, reduced oil-dependency, reduced need for expensive car infrastructure/parking lots, reduced congestion, etc.?
I am the co-founder of the Golden Ears Transition Initiative, which looks at issues related to climate change and peak oil and attempts to create greater resilience in our towns. I am in favour of budget allocations that make spending on cycling effective. We have to reduce overall carbon emissions by 30% by 2050. Cycling is the best remedy so far. I am studying the feasibility of transporting restaurant waste for composting by bicycles.
6. What is your level of interest in a public bike-share system integrated with the transit system? How do you think a public bike-share system in Vancouver can benefit Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows residents?
I am interested in any system that makes transit and cycling more attractive. A bike share system in every community, including Maple Ridge, would be an attractive addition to our town amenities and create new jobs. I would also look at private-sector participation.
7. What role do you think the municipality has in supporting and promoting cycling education for children, cyclists and motorists?
I think the municipality can partner with other organizations, such as ICBC and bicycle advocacy groups, to educate the public on safe cycling and sharing the road. Motorists are trained to look for two headlights and often miss other forms of transport, such as pedestrians and cyclists. We need to insert different training into drivers tests and to launch an awareness campaign. Over time, this may improve driver behavior.
8. How do you feel e-bikes can play a role in our transportation system?
What do you see as the benefits of e-bikes as compared to cars?
What can e-bikes mean for less densely populated suburban communities like Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows?
E-bikes pose some interesting questions. Once the number of e-bikes on the road (and sidewalks) increases, we may need to examine licensing issues. E-bikes have great potential for GHG emissions reduction and may attract a wider following than human-powered cycles. However, the accident statistics will have to be closely watched to see how well they integrate with the remaining automobiles on the road because of the speed differences and limitations.
9. Would you be interested in joining members of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition on a bike ride through your community?
Yes, I will happily ride with VACC chapter members in my official capacity as Councillor. I look forward to support from the biking community.