Letter: An open letter to the minister of transportation

Cyclists’ organization pleased with the new Northern Ontario Transportation Plan

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an open letter to Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney and has been reprinted here at the author’s request. 

To the Honourable Caroline Mulroney, minister of transportation,

Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you for the recent release of the Northern Ontario Transportation Plan and hope that you will take the following observations, recommendations and comments under consideration.

The provincial infrastructure investments in the form of paved shoulders for the safety of all road users on three of the four provincial highways on Manitoulin Island have helped MICA’s work since 2010. Manitoulin Island is now known as one of Ontario’s and Canada’s best cycle destinations.

Now many Manitoulin accommodation providers report more than 20 percent of their annual income is due to cycle tourism.

We applaud your goal of getting people moving and connecting communities efficiently and safely.

The province-wide cycling network plan shows Hwy 542 for most of its length as the planned cycle route.

MICA advocates for paved shoulders on Hwy 542 for its entire length on Manitoulin.

Reasons: Hwy 542 is heavily used by ferry departure anxiety driven traffic. Hwy 542 is used by low speed farm traffic. Hwy 542 is used as the main access route by a great influx of Amish families travelling by horse and buggy in the last 10 years. Hwy 542 is, in many portions, part of the 850 kilometre suggested cycle routes found on Manitoulin used by thousands of cyclists every year for three of the four seasons. Hwy 542 travels through three municipalities and is currently in very rough condition, too narrow for the safety of all vehicular traffic. In addition the badly broken edges currently make travelling along Hwy 542 on a cycle very dangerous, as cyclists have to enter far into the roadway for safe travel.

Studies have clearly shown that paved shoulders are cheaper when the cost is calculated over five years and much safer for all road users (forty-one percent less car accidents).

We are advocating for adding paved shoulders for the safety of all road users in Northern Ontario. 

We are happy to see cross ministerial input sought in your committees. Moving people is so very much interrelated with the ministry of health, ministry of tourism and the ministry of education. 

We are very pleased to read of the investment your ministry plans to put into upgrading existing rest areas and building additional ones. In 2020 we noted that it was difficult for our visitors to find open facilities and remains difficult for locals when we shop in towns on Manitoulin. Our residential gardens and bush are used as latrines as a result of road side park facility closures.

We are advocating for opening the seasonal facilities earlier and closing them later. We would like to see at least one all-season facility in each northern hamlet. As well as more frequent all season facilities throughout our extensive Northern highway web.

Sincerely grateful for your work and insight.

Looking forward to your response,

Maja Mielonen, president

Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates