Pedal power 

Bicycle task force aims to secure Whistler’s spot on world cycling map

Plan will cater to both local commuters and recreational cyclists

By Andrew Mitchell

Cycling.

It’s an idea that keeps coming up in Whistler’s environmental strategies, transportation strategies, tourism strategies, and five-year plans.

According to Whistler 2002 – Charting a Course for the Future, "Whistler is one of the top bike towns in North America, with world-class trails and with international, national and regional biking competitions".

The Whistler Comprehensive Transportation Strategy identifies cycling as a partial solution to traffic congestion in the valley and suggests significant improvements to the infrastructure to encourage and reward bicycle commuters.

The Whistler Environmental Strategy recommends "building a more environmentally-sustainable transportation network" by enhancing the current cycling trail network and installing end-of-trip facilities in the village.

Now, after years of discussing the possible future of cycling in the valley, the municipality is doing something about it.

On Oct. 2, Whistler council approved the terms of reference for the creation of the Bicycle Task Force (BTF), as submitted by Keith Bennett, manager of parks 0perations for the RMOW parks and recreation department.

The BTF is a round-table venture, comprised of representatives from the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association, Whistler-Blackcomb, Advisory Parks and Recreation Commission, three community representatives, and members of the municipal planning, parks and recreations, and public works departments.

Bennett also identified several key stakeholders that would be brought into the process whenever a BTF policy or action concerns them. These include the Advisory Planning Commission, the Howe Sound School Board, Whistler citizens, tour operators, the Ministry of Forests, the Ministry of Transportation and Highways, Whistler council, Tourism Whistler, bicycle shops, emergency services, the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE), cycling event promoters, B.C. Rail, and the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

The goal of the task force is to co-ordinate a Cycling Network Plan for inclusion into the Official Community Plan and to create a mountain bike vision and a policy that supports and enhances Whistler’s position as one of the "top bike towns in North America".

When these first two goals are reached, the task force will bring together interested community members to form the Whistler Cycling Coalition, a permanent body that will deal with cycling issues in the valley after the task force disbands.

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