The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Cycling Summit, with the theme "Safe Streets for Everyone," takes place on April 24 and 25, 2024 at Showplace Performance Centre's Nexicom Studio and McDonnel Street Activity Centre. A portion of Bethune Street in downtown Peterborough reopened in the summer of 2023 as Canada's first purpose-built street to give priority to bicycles and other active transportation users. (Photo: Lili Paradi / GreenUP)

The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Cycling Summit, with the theme “Safe Streets for Everyone,” takes place on April 24 and 25, 2024 at Showplace Performance Centre’s Nexicom Studio and McDonnel Street Activity Centre. A portion of Bethune Street in downtown Peterborough reopened in the summer of 2023 as Canada’s first purpose-built street to give priority to bicycles and other active transportation users. (Photo: Lili Paradi / GreenUP)

By: Ashley Burnie, Program Coordinator, GreenUP

“Peterborough and the Kawartha’s Cycling Summit: Safe Streets for Everyone”, an event organized by the Peterborough Bicycle Advisory Committee (P-BAC), is coming up this Wednesday April 24th and Thursday, April 25th.

The two-day summit includes exciting speakers, interactive design workshops, and guided cycling or walking tours. This event is for you if you are interested in urban design and road safety, as Summit speakers will address key issues through the lens of public health, engineering, city planning, accessibility, and more. P-BAC is excited to gather our community to share ideas, engage in meaningful discussion and (most importantly) have fun!

Peterborough has a lot of transportation statistics to be proud of. Most trips within the City of Peterborough are 5 km or less, and the City boasts a network of over 26 km of trails. In addition, Bethune Street (from McDonnel to Townsend) reopened last summer as Canada’s first purpose-built bicycle priority street. Stormwater upgrades required a redevelopment of the street, and the road surface was redesigned to prioritize cyclists and other active transportation users.

In 2023, the City of Peterborough released an updated Transportation Master Plan (Move Ptbo), which guides transportation growth and connectivity until 2051. Likewise, the County of Peterborough updated their Transportation Master plan in late 2022, building on commitments set out within their Active Transportation Master Plan. These such guidelines included installing multi-use paths on high volume roadways and commitments to shoulder paving for the purposes of active transportation.

Guest speakers at the 2024 Peterborough and the Kawarthas Cycling Summit include keynote speaker at Ian Lockwood at Showplace Performance Centre on April 24 and Dr. Sara Whitehead and Valerie Smith at McDonnel Street Activity Centre on April 25. (kawarthaNOW collage of supplied photos)

Guest speakers at the 2024 Peterborough and the Kawarthas Cycling Summit include keynote speaker at Ian Lockwood at Showplace Performance Centre on April 24 and Dr. Sara Whitehead and Valerie Smith at McDonnel Street Activity Centre on April 25. (kawarthaNOW collage of supplied photos)

With all this momentum, P-BAC is convening its first cycling summit in 10 years to share the excitement. This summit will broaden the conversation beyond bicycles.

According to Dr. Sara Whitehead, one of the Summit speakers on Thursday’s agenda, “what we’ve learned from cities all over the world is that the same features that make urban streets safer for everyone — more compact road space for cars, separated facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, slower vehicle speeds in denser business and residential areas — also make our cities more liveable and our downtown businesses more prosperous.”

Dr. Whitehead is not alone in drawing the connection between pedestrian and cyclist access and safer, more vibrant cities.

Ian Lockwood, an Ottawa native who now lives in Florida, is the keynote speaker for Wednesday evening’s kick-off event which will take place at 7pm in Showplace Performance Centre’s Nexicom Lounge. Lockwood is a Livable Transportation Engineer with the Toole Design Group, a company that focuses on projects that build safer and more walkable streets for everyone. Lockwood’s projects work to increase prosperity in mid-sized cities by using people-centered transportation design. After an injury left him temporarily requiring a wheelchair, Lockwood became dedicated to creating public spaces where access and mobility are primary considerations. P-BAC is thrilled for Lockwood to kick off the event.

A cycling tour group getting ready to leave at the 4th annual Peterborough and the Kawarthas Cycling Summit on October 4, 2014, which also included the first-ever Peterborough Youth Bike Summit. The 2024 cycling summit on April 24 and 25, entitled “Safe Streets for Everyone,” will also feature bike and walking tours as well as three expert guest speakers and interactive design workshops. (Photo: Evan Holt)

A cycling tour group getting ready to leave at the 4th annual Peterborough and the Kawarthas Cycling Summit on October 4, 2014, which also included the first-ever Peterborough Youth Bike Summit. The 2024 cycling summit on April 24 and 25, entitled “Safe Streets for Everyone,” will also feature bike and walking tours as well as three expert guest speakers and interactive design workshops. (Photo: Evan Holt)

The Summit will continue on Thursday April 25th at the McDonnel Street Activity Centre. Dr. Sara Whitehead will share international transportation safety best practices and how they apply locally in Peterborough. Valerie Smith of Parachute will share about safe systems approaches to transportation through nationwide Vision Zero projects.

The Summit program is rounded out with biking and walking tours that will highlight current and developing city and county infrastructure. The afternoon program includes interactive design workshops where people will work together on concepts for local streets.

Sue Sauve, Chair of P-BAC says, “this year’s Summit goes beyond bicycles to address opportunities in the City and County to make our streets more accessible, enjoyable and safe to use… We are gearing this summit to a broad audience including people with disabilities, young families, seniors, pedestrians, and people impacted by a traffic crash.”

Those of us who have experience with a traffic crash know they are more common on roads where speed or visibility is an issue. Speaker Valarie Smith oversees the mobilization of Parachute’s Vision Zero network, with nearly 1,000 stakeholders across Canada.

Vision Zero is a multi-national initiative founded in the late 1990s in Sweden. It’s based on the idea that no one should be seriously injured or killed within the road transportation system. Valarie is presenting Thursday afternoon ahead of the interactive design workshops.

Bethune Street now accommodates diverse road users facilitating access to parks, work, and residences for people who do not have the option to drive or who choose other modes of travel. Freda Bourgon uses a power chair on Bethune Street almost daily with her son Sabastien as a safer and smoother route across downtown Peterborough. (Photo: Natalie Stephenson / GreenUP)

Bethune Street now accommodates diverse road users facilitating access to parks, work, and residences for people who do not have the option to drive or who choose other modes of travel. Freda Bourgon uses a power chair on Bethune Street almost daily with her son Sabastien as a safer and smoother route across downtown Peterborough. (Photo: Natalie Stephenson / GreenUP)

Choosing to participate in active and sustainable transportation is often more than simply getting from point A to point B; it also encompasses mental and physical wellness.

A transportation network that is friendly to vulnerable road users also “moves us towards our climate goals and has additional health benefits in reducing air pollution and the chronic diseases of sedentary lifestyles. It’s a remarkable win-win,” remarks Dr Whitehead. Whitehead’s presentation on Thursday morning will address how we can move towards these systems, by using lessons learned from projects in Asia, Africa and South America.

Registration for the Summit is now open. While participants are encouraged to attend both days, registration is flexible and it is $15 or pay-what-you-can. For more information and to register, visit us here.

The Peterborough Bicycle Advisory Committee (P-BAC) is composed of representatives from stakeholder organizations and community volunteers, P-BAC aims to foster a culture of cycling in Peterborough through education, outreach, advocacy, and community building.