First - I just found a WWF petition regarding Kyoto that people might like to sign.
World Wildlife Fund petition for Canada to meet its Kyoto Targets
Second - Below is my first draft of the petition regarding a tax credit for cyclists. I welcome any and all comments /suggestions. I'm sure there are some good editors out there and people with good ideas. Let me know what you think. After we go through a couple drafts and are happy, I'll find a place on the web to post it for people to sign.
The addressees are the Minister of the Environment (Ambrose), the Minister of Transportation (Cannon), the Minister of Finance (Flaherty) and the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (Gelinas).
Dear Ms. Abrose, Mr. Cannon, Mr. Flaherty, and Ms.Gelinas:
At a time when the international community is focusing on the environmental degradation of the planet with initiatives such as the Kyoto Accord, we, the undersigned, would like to offer one more way the government of Canada could combat climate change.
In the summer of 2006, the Canadian government very wisely offered tax breaks to users of public transit.
At that time Mr. Flaherty said “Gridlock has become one of the most pressing issues across the GTA, eroding the quality of life and having a negative impact on business and productivity. Our government’s new transit tax credit will make transit more affordable, giving people even more incentive to park their keys and leave their cars at home.”
Ms. Ambrose additionally said “The transit tax credit will not only save people money, but by taking public transit Canadians will be helping to improve our environment. The transit tax credit is part of our government's made in Canada environmental plan. Our transit tax initiative will take the equivalent of 56,000 cars off the road each year which will significantly reduce greenhouse gases here in Canada."
Department of Finance Canada (2006). Taking public transit is now more affordable in Canada. Retrieved November 4, 2006 from http://www.fin.gc.ca/news06/06-031e.html
It seems obvious to us that a similar tax credit should be offered to the community of bicycle commuters.
Commuting by bicycle has the same environmental benefits as commuting by public transit.
However, commuting by bicycle has health and economic benefits which make it far more worthy of tax credits than public transit.
According to the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute:
Current estimates place the cost of physical inactivity in Canada at $5.3 billion ($1.6 billion in direct costs and $3.7 billion in indirect costs) and the cost of obesity in Canada at $4.3 billion ($1.6 billion of direct costs and $2.7 billion of indirect costs) in health care expenditures. This represents the totaleconomic cost as 2.6% and 2.2% respectively of the total health care costs in Canada. There is concern that chronic disease resulting from obesity may threaten or cripple the health care system in Canada.
Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute. 2004 Physical Activity Monitor and Sport. Retrieved Nov. 4, 2006 from http://www.cflri.ca/eng/statistics/surveys/pam2004.php
As well, in 2003 the Federal and Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Sport, Recreation and Fitness set a national target to increase levels of physical activity by ten percentage points in each province and territory by the year 2010. A primary reason that they set this target was that “Physical inactivity levels in Canada remain a serious public health burden. Fifty-five percent of Canadians do not meet minimum guidelines for regular physical activity necessary to attain health benefits. Physical inactivity increases the risk of chronic disease, premature death and disability.”
Government of New Brunswick. (2003) News Release: Federal and Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Sport, Recreation and Fitness Target Increase in Physical Activity. Retrieved November 4, 2006 from http://www.canadianheritage.gc.ca/pc-ch/news-comm/ce021712_e.htm
As cycling would combat climate change by removing people from their cars, and ease the burden on the health care system by helping people maintain an active lifestyle, we feel that it is almost imperative to offer a tax credit to bicycle commuters.
Although bicycling does not require fuel costs, it is not a cheap activity. After the initial purchase of a bike, miscellaneous costs include, but are certainly not limited to, locks, tune-ups, replacement tubes, waterproof clothing, winter clothing, chain oil, tire liners, air pumps, cleaning tools, storage stands, and helmets.
The government could provide a tax credit the following way:
a) Require cyclists to provide proof that they use a bicycle to commute to and from their workplace. This could be done via a letter of confirmation from their employer.
b) As it would be hard to tally up every expense that cyclists incur, the government could provide credits proportionate to a cyclist’s weekly mileage.
In comparison to a transit user who spends $80.00 per month on a transit pass, and will save $150.00 year with the government tax credit, we feel that the tax credit for cyclists should be set in such a way that cyclists receive double the savings as do transit users, to account for the additional health cost savings associated with cycling and which do not happen through use of public transit.
Please encourage Canadians to commute by bicycle by offering them a tax credit to do so. Please help us meet our Kyoto goals. Please help us save the planet.