In 1974, Thunder Bay took its first major step towards supporting cycling in Thunder Bay with a bicycle “concept” plan. This initiated the construction of the first recreational trails in the city.
In 1980, the Recreational Trails Master Plan was created. This plan expanded on the ideas set forth in 1974 and proposed a trail system which would link the city and create recreational corridors along the rivers.
In the mid 1990’s, the Recreational Trails Master Plan was reviewed by the Community Services Department, to determine how many of the goals of the Plan had been achieved, what was left to complete, and how realistic the completion of the Plan was.
Serious barriers confronted the 15-year-old Plan. Much of the land along the rivers had been sold to private owners, hindering the development of a public trail system. At this time, a new attitude toward cycling was also beginning to develop. Cycling was viewed by an increasing number of people as a means of transportation, not just recreation. The focus of the Recreational Trails Master Plan was about to change.
In June 2006, the City of Thunder Bay held an Active Transportation Workshop facilitated by Michael Hanes from Go for Green. The intention of the workshop was to introduce City engineers and City Council to the concept of Active Transportation, and to facilitate communication between the City and interested members of the non-profit sector.
As a result of the workshop, the strengths and weaknesses of the City as an Active Transportation Community were defined, and a draft community vision was created to guide future development and discussion. It was recognized that the planning for motorized and non-motorized transportation had never before been integrated and that this was essential for the development of an effective Active Transportation network.
In the fall of 2007, a motion was passed by City Council to create an Active Transportation Advisory Committee (ATAC), made up of interested residents and representatives of various community organizations and City departments. The purpose of the ATAC was to develop an Active Transportation master plan which would determine the direction of future non-motorized transportation infrastructure.
A year later, the Active Transportation Plan was presented to City Council and approved. As a partnership between the City of Thunder Bay and EcoSuperior, an Active Transportation Coordinator, Adam Krupper, was hired in June 2009.
Since that time, Thunder Bay has seen the implementation of pilot Bike Lanes and Shared Lanes (see our Bike Lanes and Shared Lanes Pamphlet, Adobe PDF, 2 pages, 916 KB), the creation of a new Active Transportation Map, and $5 million dollars have dedicated for major Active Transportation infrastructure projects.