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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ontario Trails News - find your favorite dog-sledding trail and new map to draw cyclists to Simcoe

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New maps expected to draw cycling tourists to north Simcoe

Local municipalities support Cycle Simcoe initiative

Midland Mirror
MIDLAND – A new map of north Simcoe’s cycling routes will launch next week with hopes of attracting droves of tourists from the Greater Toronto Area.
Midland is the last local municipality to jump on board after Brendan Matheson, cycling strategy co-ordinator for Cycle Simcoe, a Barrie/Simcoe Cycling Club initiative, requested $3,000 each from Midland, Penetanguishene, Tiny and Tay for maps and online development.
Midland council will officially vote on the funding request as part of the town’s upcoming budget meetings.
“This is going to be the start of a great partnership,” Mayor Gord McKay said during Monday’s council meeting.
As part of the request, Matheson also asked the town to help Cycle Simcoe by installing safety signage, improving cycling infrastructure and distributing safety education information.
The “Heart of Georgian Bay” cycling map, which is scheduled to launch at the Toronto International Bicycle ShowMarch 6, will feature seven routes, said Matheson.
They range from eight kilometres in length along the Midland Rotary Waterfront Trail, to 95 kilometres on quiet roads and trails through all four municipalities, he said, adding they will include three trails and four road-based routes.
At the bike show, Cycle Simcoe also plans to launch cycling maps for the Oro-Medonte, Severn and Ramara areas and for the Wasaga Beach, Collingwood and Blue Mountain areas.
“We’re finding most of the cyclists that come up here are from the GTA,” he said.
A Ministry of Tourism survey found two million people took part in cycle tourism in Ontario in 2010, spending $391 million. Compared to 2009, this was a 25 per cent increase in cycle tourists and an 18 per cent boost in spending.
Cycle tourism refers to someone who travels at least 40 kilometres to go cycling, according to Matheson.
He said he hopes cyclists will take advantage of Cycle Simcoe’s interactive online maps by, for example, taking photos of and marking the location of potholes.
The organization, which began in 2012, can then contact municipalities about any problems for quick fixes.
Coun. George MacDonald, an avid cyclist, spoke in support of the maps and confirmed with Matheson air pumping stations will be available along the routes.
“I’m not volunteering because my air is all hot air,” MacDonald quipped.
Coun. Cody Oschefski offered to help Cycle Simcoe with spreading its message on social media.
“There’s a misconception in Midland for young families that there’s nothing to do here,” he said.
Coun. Glen Canning added one of the biggest complaints he hears from cyclists visiting the town is a lack of route maps – “besides the lack of bicycle racks downtown.”