When we were in the early days of Bicicles, we were asking around about who we should interview on either side of the issue of cycling – about winter commuting by bicycle in Calgary, in particular, but, anyone that would talk with us about cycling, in general. Amongst the usual suspects, like City councillors, City staff, and other cycling advocates, what stood out was the recommendation to talk with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. They were pointed out as one of the key business stakeholders in the conversation, one that had come out strongly in favour of the Cycle Track Network.
The cycling community is fully aware, of course, of the benefits that cycling can and does bring to business. When properly researched, the business case in favour of cycling infrastructure should be relatively easy to make. That was certainly the case with the Chamber. Although they didn’t take on an active role in the conversation, they did publish and promote their recommendation to the City and to their membership. Although it seems obvious, I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised about their favourable stance.
To get the behind-the-scenes story on the Chamber’s position on cycling and the Cycle Track Network, we sat down with Justin Smith, the Director of Policy at the Chamber. We talked mostly about cycling and cycling infrastructure. What struck me most was the way that Justin articulated the business case for cycling infrastructure in the City, and the Chamber’s approach to arriving at that policy decision. This is only part of a much longer interview, but I think you’ll find it most enlightening.