SOUTH HURON — South Huron councillors at their Nov. 6 meeting learned about the Huron County Cycling Strategy and what this municipality can do to promote cycling.
Advisory committee members Conrad Melady and Jennifer Lichty spoke to council about the new strategy, which was implemented by the county earlier this year to, according to information provided at the meeting, “improve cycling safety and enjoyment in Huron County.” The plan “was developed with input from stakeholder groups, local municipalities and local residents.”
The strategy includes recommendations, action plans and a timeline. Recommendations include planning cycling routes and infrastructure, developing a “Share the Road” sign plan (60 have so far been installed), addressing the issue of distracted driving, promoting cycling activities, encouraging students to be more active and ride their bikes, improving the Goderich to Guelph Rail Trail, encouraging pilot projects, creating subcommittees and more. Infrastructure plans include paving road shoulders, such as a pilot project this year to pave the shoulders on County Road 31 from Benmiller to Westmount Line.
The committee reports to county council and the board of health.
Goderich resident Melady said the committee wants to create a solid connection with South Huron. Lichty, who lives in Grand Bend, said cycling is also supported by other levels of government. She described cycling as enjoyable, efficient, affordable, healthy, sociable and non-polluting. Regarding the health benefits from cycling, Lichty said most adults don’t get their recommended weekly amount of exercise, and cycling is a great way to be active and improve one’s health.
Melady said increased cycling can reduce the number of short trips in cars, and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Grants are also available, and a grant from Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation was received for the Share the Road project. The initiative also celebrated Bike Month in June and installed displays in county library branches. Bike workshops were also offered.
Locally, Melady said there is good infrastructure in South Huron for cycling and much potential in the rural areas. He said the Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre’s annual bike ride fundraiser takes place in South Huron, and has grown every year.
Looking to the future, Melady said, “I just think you’ll see more bikes on the road.”
He said the municipality can help support cycling by spreading the word about its benefits, and by keeping “cycling in mind when planning and looking at community development and opportunities.”
The delegation also spoke of the economical benefits from cycling, and Deputy Mayor David Frayne agreed there are benefits, explaining that friends of his visited the area to cycle and their stay included local restaurants, accommodation and golfing.
Mayor Maureen Cole asked about the cycling group’s plans to look at students cycling to school. Melady said that is one of the committee’s action points and there is a real opportunity for the group to work with schools.
More information can be found at the Huron Cycling Strategy Facebook page.