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Statement by Abram Bergen

I participated both in the opening meeting for the Pedestrian Mobility Master Plan study and attended their PIC in Dundas recently. I have also been involved for some time in working to make Hamilton a more cycle-friendly city. And the two go entirely hand-in-hand--a pedestrian-friendly city is a cycle-friendly city and vice versa. Both have the goal of redesigning our urban spaces from a person's and community's viewpoint, rather than from an aerial viewpoint so common in modern architecture and urban design, to create a city where people come first and everything else flows from that.

A pedestrian and cycle-friendly city is a more liveable city in which life slows down a little towards a more human pace; where people are more active and therefore healthier; where people, no longer enclosed in metal boxes as much interact more with one another and form stronger communities; and where these stronger communities do business to create strong local economies. While it means slowing down a little, it by no means going backwards. Vehicles and technology have their place, but should be employed to help, not hamper, our well-being.

The time to act is right now, not merely as individual streets come due for re-construction over the next 20 years. As exemplified in various cities around the world, money spent on creating people-focused, pedestrian and cycle-friendly environments pays for itself very quickly. We need to take our time to study what others have done and what needs to be done here, but then those recommendations need to be binding and quickly implemented, not subject to long-term construction schedules onto which to tack recommended improvements, nor up to individual debate in council where individual councillors can interrupt things in their ward.

Here's to creating a strong, vibrant, liveable, pedestrian and cycle-friendly Hamilton!

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