Letter to the editor: Infrastructure for bikes can pay off

I welcome the wake-up call editorial in the June 25 Addison Independent concerning “missed opportunities” surrounding the area’s support of biking. I appreciate the efforts of local citizens who seek to work within the current constraints.
However, if we really want to develop our area as a magnet for bicycle tourism and also provide truly safe biking for local residents, we must examine infrastructure. A large part of the problem for our state is the fact that current biking improvement efforts are under the direction and funding of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, whose primary mission is highway/automobile focused. VTrans has tacitly and actively discouraged asking the big question: Do bicycles and automobiles really belong on the same “highway.”
Quebec province began asking this question and answering it more than three decades ago. They now have one of the world’s best bicycling infrastructures, Route Verte. A small section of Route Verte north of Montreal is featured in the June 2018 edition of “Vermont Sports Magazine.”
Quebec’s ambitious plan came about because bicycle advocacy groups worked to convene a coalition of economic development, health, tourism and transport officials. Thus, they escaped the limits of working only with the highway department. Their out-of-the-box solution, and resulting infrastructure, cost many millions of dollars. The pay-off, based on several studies conducted by universities in Quebec Province: 1) tourism dollars have long since eclipsed the investment costs, 2) in one recent year tax revenues associated with increased tourism directly attributable to Route Verte infrastructure surpassed the total cost of the massive infrastructure (government and the public, not just businesses benefit from the investment). There are also health benefits. And anyone visiting Montreal or the surrounding countryside will observe the quality of life pay-offs.
The sooner we begin long-term infrastructure planning, the sooner we will begin to catch-up.
Randy Kritkausky

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