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City Hall Update: Resignation from Cycling Advisory Committee

City Hall Update: Resignation from Cycling Advisory Committee

An update from Ben.

The London Bicycle Cafe Logo.

This is a quick note to confirm that I’ve resigned from the City of London’s Cycling Advisory Committee. We’ve seen zero new progress on transportation emissions in two years since the City of London declared a climate emergency, where we need a 50% reduction in all emissions by 2030 to give today’s kids a fighting chance at a future. We’ve squandered 18% of our time already with near-total inaction, while continuing to debate whether there is “enough” parking in the core. The recent Dundas Place fiasco was the last nail in the coffin, where it became abundantly clear that city staff (who still have no trained active transportation planners on their team) value motorist convenience ahead of the physical safety of people walking and cycling on the City’s only “flex'“ street. The time and energy I put into meeting preparation, reviewing planning documents etc. will be much better spent working on your bikes this spring, and I’m looking forward to doing more of that as the days get longer and warmer.

The 2020s will feature the hottest and most chaotic atmosphere any generation of human beings has ever experienced. It will also feature the coolest and most stable atmosphere any generation of human beings will ever experience again.

- Ben

ps - Someone clever said that “flex” means you can park your car on the street OR the sidewalk. Unfortunately they were right.

You can read the letter in its entirety here:

Please accept my resignation from the City of London’s Cycling Advisory Committee. I applied for this position after the City declared a Climate Emergency in April 2019, believing cycling would be a part of the city’s plan for climate action. In the nearly two years that have followed, the City has not brought forward a systematic plan to address its main source of emissions: transportation. The lack of progress is both frustrating and terrifying, as someone with a deep understanding of the climate emergency, and as a father to a child who will have to live through the results of our choices.

Cycling is an essential part of every city’s climate action plan, providing zero-emissions transportation that scales affordably with the suburban built environment that dominates our city. The greatest barrier to the adoption of utility cycling by people of all ages and abilities is the (inexpensive) safety of a protective barrier separating dangerous motor vehicles from people riding bicycles on city streets. London’s stunning lack of progress on protected bike infrastructure compared to other cities its size and scale is inexplicable, and irresponsible given the stakes of a disrupted climate system.  The City continues to prioritize fast flowing motor vehicle traffic and convenient free private vehicle storage (parking) ahead of cyclist (and pedestrian) safety at every turn, and has not demonstrated any meaningful action toward solving the planetary emergency during my time on committee.

We have fewer than nine years to decrease our emissions by 50%, and together we have squandered the first two years of our opportunity to preserve a habitable planet for our children. The time to “wait and see” has long passed, and radical action is now required to avoid catastrophic failure of our planet’s ecosystems, including our own food, water, and energy systems.

I wish all of my colleagues on this committee the very best. You all have been an incredible team and passionate advocates for building a better city. Thank you for your time, friendship, and service.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Benjamin R. Cowie
Ph.D. Geology and Geophysics

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