BANFF – A rebate is being offered for studded bicycle tires in a bid to get more residents riding in winter.
At a meeting on Monday (Nov. 26), Banff town council voted 6-1 to allocate up to $5,000 from the environmental reserve to fund up to 100 studded bike tire rebates.
Councillor Brian Standish voiced strong support, noting studded tires can make people feel safer and more comfortable riding on snow and icy conditions.
“I’m a heavy bike user in summer, but I’ve always been a little hesitant in riding my bike in winter,” he said.
“I just went out and bought a studded tire and this has really helped me change my mind, so I’m hopeful it will change other peoples’ minds and they will ride their bikes more in winter.”
Studded bicycle tires come in a variety of sizes and patterns, and are sold locally. They’re relatively expensive, ranging in price from approximately $70 to $200 for conventional bikes.
The Town is giving rebates of $50 per tire to a maximum of two tires, or $100 per person. To qualify, there must be proof of purchase and local residency.
The money to fund the program is coming from Banff’s environmental reserve, which currently has a balance of about $400,000. The reserve is replenished with Fortis franchise fees at a rate of $212,000 a year.
Town of Banff officials have been working to encourage active modes of transportation to get more cars off the streets, noting the 2017 census showed only two per cent of residents ride bikes in winter compared to 17 per cent in summer.
“With all of our rebates, I think we’re trying to help a resident get over a barrier,” said Chad Townsend, the municipality’s environmental manager. “Cost is often a barrier.”
Councillor Ted Christensen was the only councillor to vote against the rebate, noting he didn’t believe this way of encouraging winter cycling was a wise use of public dollars.
“I’m concerned about the reach of this. I can support increasing winter cycling, but to look at buying studded bicycle tires leaves me wondering for whom and why?” he said.
Approval of the rebate comes ahead of the Winter Cycling Federation’s annual winter cycling conference being hosted in Calgary-Banff in February 2019.
The conference covers a range of topics including infrastructure, maintenance, public health, tourism, education, communication, and more. Banff will speak at the opening of the congress, as well as host a study tour for 40 delegates on Feb. 9, 2019.
Townsend said the goal of the congress is to “normalize” the practice of cycling in winter as a viable alternative.
“These events attract approximately 400 delegates and seek to inspire improvements in facilitating this active mode of transportation and recreation,” he said.