FAQ: How was the cycling network designed?

Cycling network design takes into account local context, existing and future traffic patterns, current standards and guidelines for infrastructure design, and best practices from communities who’ve contributed to a growing body of knowledge.  With all of that as a foundation, a set of design principles can further guide decisions. 

otm18The toolkit is well developed and described in the Ontario Traffic Manual – Book 18: Cycling Facilities.  As described by the Ontario Traffic Council, “OTM Book 18 will serve as a primary reference document for engineers, planners and designers throughout Ontario. The document contains information on legal requirements, standards, best practices, procedures, guidelines and recommendations for the justification, planning, design, timing and operation of bicycle facilities and control measures.”  This manual can be downloaded from MTO’s website here (30MB).

For Brockville, discussion led to a set of design principles:

Everyday Cycling – The segment of the population targeted by the network is first and foremost the “everyday” cyclist – those people who would like to get back on a bike recreationally to start, perhaps with friends and family, and then venture to use their bike more for everyday trips around town for appointments, work, school, shopping and visiting. The Stratcom research shows this group is eager yet cautious, and they’re reluctant to mix with motorized traffic. This segment holds the greatest latent demand for better facilities. The network will also serve, but is not specifically designed for, those comfortable with and skilled at mixing with traffic on Brockville’s busier roads.

Extend the Reach of the Brock Trail – When complete, the Brock Trail will be a linear park with a multi-use paved and accessible path that will span the city from east to west and north to south, with signalized crossings at major roads. The cycling network will extend the reach of the Brock Trail to every residential neighbourhood area and major destination in the city. This may not provide the most direct route favoured by experienced cyclists, yet will provide a route that’s either off-road or physically separated from traffic as much as possible.

Staged Implementation – The cycling network will be staged in over several years for numerous reasons:

  • Allow latent demand to emerge and demonstrate the uptake (as usually happens with every cycling project in all cities).
  • Avoid over-building before demand is demonstrated through uptake.
  • The city’s financial resources are best committed to high return projects; a staged implementation will allow public demand to build as growth in activity reveals the benefits.
  • Address key routes first that demonstrably extend the Brock Trail for greatest benefit.
  • Manage perceived impact on motorized traffic and parking.

This staging includes seasonality, recognizing that the target segment of users will likely not be riding in the winter. Cycling lanes, especially protected lanes (physically separated from motorized traffic), will not be cleared in the winter until such time as demand warrants.

Traffic Separation – Recognizing the people for whom this network is designed, arterial segments of the cycling network will be physically separated from motorized traffic wherever possible. While some segments may seem better implemented first as simple signed routes or designated bike lanes, and migrated to protected facilities as demand builds and traffic grows, research shows that incremental approaches often fail to satisfy latent demand, with uptake and benefits falling short of expectations.

Compliance and Best Practices – In designing the proposed network, BCAC has attempted to adopt and adapt best practices from communities that are certified Bicycle Friendly or otherwise seen as leaders in meeting the multi-modal mobility needs of their constituents. BCAC examined active transportation plans, cycling networks and projects in Stratford, Barrie, London, Windsor, Kitchener, Waterloo, Belleville, Cobourg, Kingston and larger centres like Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. The committee has strived to follow design guidelines and to select approaches which will be compliant with Ontario Traffic Manual – Book 18 – Cycling Facilities (“OTM-18”).  BCAC also notes Section 5.2.5 of the Official Plan and Schedule 5 which shows potential cycling facilities.  BCAC’s proposed network, once complete, will be compliant with Schedule 5.

The above is an excerpt from the cycling committee’s report to Council, available on the City’s website here.

Author: Alan Medcalf

Alan is a post-corporate, volunteer, community builder living in Brockville, Ontario. He seeks to create sustainable lifestyle advantage for the community by creating opportunities for more people to choose to walk and to ride bikes. He promotes the health, social, environmental and economic benefits of active mobility.