When you take transit to go to work, are you using active transportation or not?
Some people define active transportation as “anything that’s not riding in a private car”. I’ve used that definition myself, probably more than once. But is it really accurate? Would it not be better to separate transportation into three buckets instead of two: cars, public transit and everything else?
It seems the federal government is pedalling in that direction with the release of a new, $400 million national active transportation fund dedicated to just those projects that are neither geared towards cars or public transit.
Since 2015, the Star explains, $130 million were spent on 126 different active transportation projects, including the lovely and well-used Flora bridge in Ottawa. But that money had come out of a fund dedicated to both transit and active transportation, meaning bike paths and foot bridges had to compete with buses. This new $400 million fund is solely for active transportation.
In making the announcement, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna said it was “a recognition that this is linked to public transportation.”
If this sounds to you like a confusing distinction without a difference, don’t fret. There is a simple explanation, one that I happen to like very much: That by having money for transportation in three buckets instead of two (cars/transit/active vs cars/everything else), we dilute the importance of private cars in the way we spend public money, which in time will — one hopes — result in public opinion shifting from cars/everything to the three-bucket model.
Subtle and sneaky? Maybe. I say bring it on.