Much has been written about the need to design cycling facilities that serve the majority of people, those who are “interested yet concerned”. This cohort represents the majority, those who are quite willing to use a bicycle more often for everyday activities, yet are dissuaded by safety concerns. Designing to this cohort’s needs led to the adoption of protected lanes as the default wherever possible. And indeed, the largest uptakes in cycling activity occur with the implementation of protected lanes.
In Ontario, survey results have yielded the same outcomes and MTO has embedded the findings as part of their design guidelines in the Ontario Traffic Manual (OTM Book 18 – Cycling Facilities). Available here (large PDF download).
In Lanark County the Council of Smiths Falls is making an important first step toward joining Mississippi Mills as a bike friendly community. Town council has approved an initial priority list of cycling infrastructure projects as part of an application for provincial OMCCP funding. Read more here.
One doesn’t need to spend much time cycling around Brockville anywhere near parked cars to quickly learn that most car drivers are pretty lazy when it comes to checking for oncoming traffic, including those on bikes, before opening their car door and potentially dooring someone.
Quite simply, bike lanes help to calm traffic at the same time as they make roads safer for biking for all ages and all abilities. Roads with cycling facilities become more family-friendly and that in turn helps neighbourhoods become more attractive to families. The evidence supporting the positive impact of bike lanes on property values has been well-established for over a decade, and has been reported on this blog before (here and here). Yet every once in a while an article comes along that weaves this information and more into a compelling picture of how cycling facilities are an integral part of family-friendly neighbourhoods – places where families are willing to pay more to relocate. Read more here.
One of the best ways to help your kids be healthier is to be active with them. And one of the easiest ways for anyone to get more active is to weave activity into everyday activities like, say, biking to school. It’s well established that kids who walk, run, ride, or roll to school arrive more refreshed and ready to learn, and that translates to improved performance. It’s also well-established that kids of parents who engage with them in activities are more likely to be active on their own and develop a more active lifestyle. With all that in mind, if you’re interested in learning how to gear up for that school journey with your kids by bike this article provides some great tips. Read more here.
Their are times when segments of our multi-use trails get quite busy and it’s wise to walk your wheels. There are also some places where wheels are not to be ridden at any time, for the safety of people of all ages, all abilities.
While the current sign in the Tunnel (upper left, above) suggests you can ride at walking speed, the Tunnel Committee and Cycling Advisory Committee agreed over a year ago that cycling in the tunnel would be restricted for a number of reasons:
People walking, especially families with young children, are distracted by the lights, paying attention to the tunnel walls, taking care to avoid tripping on the dark curb, and quite often, looking up!
Even when riding a bike at walking speed, maneuverability in the tunnel is quite limited; brushing a tire against the dark curb or a handlebar against the wall could easily lead to a fall and injury – for you and others.
The Tunnel is often busy and best enjoyed at a slow walk.
So please, when visiting the Tunnel, “Walk your Wheels”. That includes your bike, your unicycle, your scooter, and your skateboard.
There are a few other places where riding a bicycle is expressly prohibited as well, even if not signed. These include the sidewalks along King Street downtown, the Brock Trail walk around Blockhouse Island, and the Brock Trail boardwalk along the River in Hardy Park.
Visiting Downtown Brockville on an “open streets” day when King Street is blocked to vehicles? Walk your Wheels – riding through a crowd of meandering families begs calamity.
At all other times on the Brock Trail, generally accepted trail etiquette applies:
Those walking have the right-of-way
When on wheels, yield to those walking
Keep to the right so others can pass; yes, that includes when walking your dog
When walking your dog, shorten the leash when passing or being passed
When riding your bike, unicycle, scooter, blades or skateboard, ding your bell or call out to those you’re about to pass, e.g. “Passing on your left!”
when riding, keep speed slow – below 20 km/h, and slower when nearing people walking.
Please also note that none of the restrictions on wheels apply to those using mobility assistance devices.
Let’s act together to make sure our shared pathways remain attractive, comfortable and safe for those of all ages and all abilities.
Heading out in Brockville and looking for a heritage walking tour, bike parking locations, park facilities or other features of our fine town? Well, the City’s growing collection of online maps may be just the thing you need.
From the Alberta Centre for Active Living comes an updated summary of the diverse and many benefits of active transportation. It’s current, evidence based and complete with references to source case studies and research. Read and/or download below.
As Doctors for Safe Cycling point out in this recent article in the Toronto Star, “Cycling is very effective in promoting good physical and mental health, and it’s infrastructure like protected lanes that makes widespread bike use possible.”
StatsCan reports that fully 41% of Canadians over the age of 12 are at least occasional cyclists now, and cites the evidence that, “The health benefits of physical activity, including cycling, are widely recognized. In an era when nearly a third of children and youth and just under two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, cycling for leisure or transport is a valuable form of exercise. Cycling is also good for the environment ― commuting by bicycle helps to alleviate road congestion and noise pollution and reduces emissions.”
It’s time for Brockville to join the 21st century and work to become bicycle friendly. There will always be naysayers and NIMBYs who fight to keep streets unsafe, children at risk and property values depressed, but it’s time to move ahead and create a better Brockville.
Heading to Brockville’s waterfront this weekend? How about using your bike? Here’s how to do that. Whether you’re starting from in town or driving in with bikes and parking away from the downtown area, follow the Brock Trail (map here) right to the heart of the events. The Brock Trail provides an off-road family-friendly route.
After crossing the Tom Dailey Bridge behind the Mill Restaurant, in addition to all the bike racks and rings throughout the downtown area, you’ll find some large bike racks at the main Water Street entrance to Rib Fest, to which you can lock your bike.
Alternately, continue along Water Street to the Water Street parking lot where you’ll find bicycle parking under the big tent in the picture above. The tent will be staffed by volunteers from 8 to 8 on Saturday, and from 10 to 5 on Sunday, providing a supervised parking area.
Click on the map shown above to see a larger size picture which you can download and use. The map has been updated to show recently completed new segments as well as those currently under construction and soon to be finished, for example, the “401 bypass” route along central Ormond and Parkedale. Distances between waypoints, to the nearest 5 m, have also been added.
Just published by New York City’s Department of Transportation is a comprehensive study and analysis of 20 years worth of cycling data. Adding to and reinforcing similar studies in other large North American cities, this study confirms both the “safety in numbers” effect as well as the risk reductions of well-designed cycling infrastructure.
The telling metric is “KSI” – the number of cyclists killed or severely injured in traffic. In a nutshell, cycling numbers grew by 162% while KSI dropped by nearly half. Said another way, the rate of KSI/100 million trips dropped from 1,072 to 292, a decline of 73%. Notably, only 11% of KSI occur on roads with cycling facilities.
The lessons learned in NYC add to the body of evidence showing that:
the implementation of cycling facilities, especially protected facilities, dramatically reduces risks to those cycling.
the the reduction of risk is both real and, more importantly, perceived, which in turn encourages large growth in cycling from the “interested but concerned” cohort.
Higher numbers of people on bicycles induces a “safety in numbers” effect due to aggregate visibility and overall traffic calming.
Small cities simply don’t have the frequency of incidents and populations to do meaningful studies like this. Yet, we can learn from these lessons shown repeatedly in larger centres.
Still puzzled by the sharrows on Water Street in downtown Brockville?
The 200m short stretch between Home and Broad is narrow, signed at a max of 40 km/h, and part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail through town. The application of sharrows on the short stretch is a guide to those driving and cycling, about how to share the road safely and responsibly.
The illustration above, copyright and courtesy of Bikeyface, shows quite nicely what sharrows are all about. They are generally described in traffic manuals and consumer guides as a shared lane marking that:
Indicates that, as in the illustration above, the lane is too narrow to be shared side-by-side and single file is appropriate.
Reminds those driving that bicycles are vehicles on the road and entitled to use the whole lane when conditions warrant.
Reminds those cycling that on a narrow road, the safest position is to “take the lane”.
Those driving also need to keep in mind that when passing someone on a bike, a minimum of 1 m clearance is stipulated in the Highway Traffic Act. That means passing using the oncoming lane, only if it’s clear.
That very short stretch of Water Street has blind corners at Home, St. Andrew, Apple and Broad streets. Be a good neighbour, slow down and share the road responsibly.
At it’s regular monthly meeting today, Brockville’s “Finance Admin, Operations” standing committee received an update from John Taylor, chair of the Brock Trail committee, reviewing progress to date in completing the trail. While there is lots of work left to do, progress is significant, as anyone walking or rolling around town knows. Of special note, for every $1 spent by the city, the Brock Trail committee has raised an additional $2.46 from grants, donations, and in-kind. To date, expenditures total approximately $1.4million, the equivalent of 28 “jobs created” (a.k.a. “FTE-years”) as tallied by economic programs. The update is attached below.
At it’s regular monthly meeting today, Brockville’s “Finance Admin, Operations” standing committee passed, unanimously and without discussion, a motion enabling the City to apply to participate in the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program (OMCCP), and to develop an active transportation plan as the first project. The cycling advisory committee passed motions last week endorsing this action. Today’s item goes to full Council next week as part of the consent agenda. The report to FAO/Council is below:
“Average Joe Cyclist” published an article on his blog that is probably the best I’ve seen when it comes to summarizing how best to transport tykes on bikes. “This post shows how to choose between front-mounted bike seats for kids; rear-mounted bike seats for kids; bike trailers for kids; tag-along bikes for kids; tow bars for kids’ bikes; longtail cargo bikes for transporting kids; bucket-style cargo bikes; and electric bucket-style cargo bikes.” If you ever had any questions about the best approach for your particular situation, check out the article here.
Two recent articles on walk-friendly communities made recent note. The first is a CBC piece on Sudbury’s progress toward becoming walk-friendly, with development on several fronts. As Sudbury’s active transportation coordinator says, “We know younger generations are driving less, and there’s more interest in living a sustainable lifestyle. So I do believe it’s to the city’s benefit to invest in cycling and walking, to attract people to come here, live here, work here and start families here.” Read that article here.
A second article, from Public Health Ontario, highlights a recently published study that investigated the health benefits of integrating walking into everyday activity. This isn’t the first study in this area and it won’t be the last as the evidence continues to mount that designing walkability into our urban landscape results in healthier lifestyles. Of course, that in turn reduces future healthcare costs. “In this age group [30-44], people in the most walkable neighbourhoods averaged almost 15 minutes per day more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity than people in the least walkable neighbourhoods.” Read that article here.
The push is on for a national active transportation strategy. Currently, 21 million Canadians, or about 58%, live in a region where transportation and development projects and practices conform to policies guided by active transportation plans, cycling plans, walk/bike/age/youth-friendly plans, Vision Zero initiatives, or complete streets plans. In fact, government funding programs are starting to become contingent on those plans being in place and current.
Now is the time to bring our country under a consistent set of practices and guidelines, at the same time enfolding and bringing into the current century those municipalities who to date have ignored the mounting evidence on benefits, including the clear economic necessity of stepping up to compete on a level playing field. Follow the links for more information.
At its next meeting on July 13th, it’s expected that the City’s cycling advisory committee will pass motions endorsing Brockville’s application to participate in the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program, and recommending development of a cycling master plan for the City.