LONDON, ONT. -- London is poised to shift the construction of safer cycling and pedestrian infrastructure into high gear.

In a report to city hall’s Civic Works Committee (CWC), engineers unveil a plan that could fast-track construction and enhancement of 39 kilometres of cycling lanes and 12 kilometres of new sidewalks and park trails.

“Staff have identified $28 million (worth of projects). We can move forward and refine the list, connecting our infrastructure, building new, and recognizing gaps in our existing infrastructure,” explains Councillor Elizabeth Peloza.

Recently, the federal and provincial governments announced funding to help pay for active transportation projects that support pandemic relief measures.

“This report positions ourselves to be able to take full advantage of those funding programs,” explains Garfield Dales, city hall’s Division Manager of Transportation and Design.

Dales has developed a list of local projects that could be accelerated through funding partnerships.

The list of potential projects includes:

• New bike lanes ($9 million)

• Improve existing bike lanes ($5 million)

• Bike safety at intersections ($1.8 million)

• Improve boulevard bike paths ($4 million)

• New sidewalks ($1.5 million)

• Improve Thames Valley Parkway ($2 million)

“The city has a Cycling Master Plan, and every year we chip away a little bit at the plan,” explains Peloza. “This will allow us to drastically accelerate the plan, recognizing COVID-19 has shown how much we rely on active transportation.”

“It’s such a win, win, win,” says cyclist Kim Kaufman. He hopes more separated bike lanes will motivate more Londoners to ride. “The infrastructure, its like we’re building for the future.”

Meanwhile, city hall is poised to hire its first Active Transportation Manager.

Following the lead of other municipalities, the new position within the engineering department will bring specialized knowledge to infrastructure projects for pedestrians and cyclists.

“The staff position will be filled in early 2021, to do the projects that we are just getting the money in now to utilize,” adds Peloza.

The list of project’s on the accelerated active transportation plan will be discussed at the CWC meeting on November 17.