News: 2016 Bicycle Friendly Communities Awards

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Thunder Bay receiving Bronze award at 2015 Ontario Bike Summit

At the Ontario Bike Summit in Toronto last week, communities offering residents and visitors a bicycle friendly experience were honoured for their achievements. The following communities were awarded Bicycle Friendly status: Burlington – Silver (moved up from Bronze), Niagara Falls – Bronze (New in 2016) and Mississippi Mills – Bronze (New in 2016). Oakville, Oshawa, Richmond Hill and Welland were renewed at their Bronze designation levels, while Hamilton was renewed with a Silver designation.  An Honourable Mention was given to North Bay.

Continue reading “News: 2016 Bicycle Friendly Communities Awards”

Bike Trails Give Big Boost to Philly Real Estate

The Hiking, Biking and Recreation Trail of Greater Philadelphia — Visit Philadelphia — visitphilly.com
The Hiking, Biking and Recreation Trail of Greater Philadelphia — Visit Philadelphia — visitphilly.com

Yet another report, this one from Philadelphia, showing the positive boost in real estate values from easy access to cycling facilities.  Parking is still important, yet falls behind proximity to active transportation.  The report highlights the lifestyle and economic advantages to the city that stem from embracing and investing in trails and cycling.

Note to Brockvillians: Yes this is a US report from a big city. Yet the trend is continent wide and big cities are nothing more than collections of Brockville-sized districts showing the same trends.
Read more.

News: Toronto’s Bloor Street Ready To Join The Cycling Age

A long time in the making, support for bike lanes on Toronto’s Bloor St. now appears strong and consistent across all stakeholders.

“Never before have we had so many people – and not just the usual suspects – take up the cause,” said Cycle Toronto director Jared Kolb. “We’ve got strong political leadership locally, strong business support, residents and residents’ associations and a growing amount of data that backs up the argument in an unbiased, scientific way.”  Read more.

Toronto Centre For Active Transportation Releases Complete Streets Book

Complete Street Transformations in the Greater Golden Horseshoe is a book featuring nine  projects from municipalities throughout the region which involved redesigning streets to make more space for one or more of pedestrians, cyclists, or transit riders.” Included in the projects studied are ones that illuminate the possibilities for Brockville’s Laurier Blvd and King St through downtown.  Read more.

Walkability Is About The Experience

Photo courtesy Brockville Tourism (by David Mackie)
Photo courtesy Brockville Tourism (by David Mackie)

“Improving walkability means that communities are created or enhanced to make it safe and easy to walk and that pedestrian activity is encouraged for all people. The purpose of the Call to Action is to increase walking across the United States by calling for improved access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll and by creating a culture that supports these activities for people of all ages and abilities.” This came from the US Surgeon General a few months ago, underscoring the need to create city spaces that encourage walking.  Continue reading “Walkability Is About The Experience”

CAA Ups the Game for “Worst Roads” Annual Poll

CtyRd2LGDxO2For several years, the Canadian Automobile Association has run their “worst roads” poll, asking members to nominate and vote for those road segments deemed to be “worst” by whatever criteria matters to you. Walking and cycling criteria are now welcome too, following a few years of this author and others pointing out CAA’s strong partnership with the Share the Road Coalition and the majority of CAA’s members who also choose to cycle.  Let’s use this – explicitly nominate your “worst road” for cycling – say, County Rd 2 through Leeds & Grenville.

News: Mississippi Mills Earns Bicycle Friendly Community Award

Bicycle_Friendly_Community_Sign_02_1At the just-concluded Ontario Bike Summit 2016, announcements of this year’s recipients of the Bicycle Friendly Community designation include our neighbour Mississippi Mills!  Featuring a long-running Bike Fest, the Silver Chain Challenge, an active transportation plan, cycle rides both leisurely and sportive, and a paved shoulders policy in Lanark County, Mississippi Mills has worked for many years to earn their BFC designation, in the process helping to build a community that’s healthier and more attractive to families and businesses.  Congratulations!

News: Full List of OMCIP grants

Planned route through 401 corridor
Planned route through 401 corridor

Brockville was one of 37 communities to be granted up to $325,000 over two years in the Ontario Municipal Cycling Infrastructure Program, a key piece of Action Plan 1.0 of #CYCLEON: Ontario’s Cycling Strategy.  The program received about 150 expressions of interest, of which about 50 were invited to submit full applications.  Projects were judged on “improving connections between local cycling networks, promoting safety, enabling recreation and tourism, encouraging innovation, research and data collection, supporting partnerships and improving awareness of cycling as a viable transportation mode.”  Projects are being funded up to 50% of total cost, over two years, “to install or improve on-road cycling lanes, off-road cycling and walking paths, cycling-specific traffic signals and signs, active transportation bridges and bike racks.”
Read the announcement here.
See the list of municipalities receiving grants here (pdf).
See details on Brockville’s project here.

Fail Fast & Fail Forward – Trial Installations Can Pave the Way

LaurierTrialAs Janette Sadik-Khan showed us in NYC, a lot can be accomplished with a few planters and some road paint in a short trial that either generates some lessons learned, or becomes a permanent fixture.  More cities are adopting this approach, which would hold promise for a few key routes in Brockville.  Bike lanes could be added to Laurier with nothing more than paint as a trial for those choosing to cycle as well as a way of calming traffic.  Read more here.

News: SW Ontario Shares in Provincial Cycling Grants

CWATSLondon, Chatham-Kent, Kingsville, Windsor, LaSalle and Tecumseh are each receiving $325,000 toward cycling projects in their municipalities.  Facilities planned run the gamut from paved shoulders on rural roads to bike lanes to shared-use trails.  Of note, several of the projects close gaps in Essex County’s “County Wide Active Transportation System”. This is a network that’s proving to be an economic boost to the entire county through a collection of routes and facilities that connects communities across their rural landscape.
Read more in the Ontario announcement or this article in the Windsor Star.

Lessons on Safety from Bike Shares

CapitalBikeshareWith over 35,000,000 bike share trips in the last several years in nearly 100 US cities, there have been zero bicycling fatalities, compared with an average of 21 deaths per 1,000,000 trips in the general population.  A recent study (pdf link)  sought to understand why bike share riders fare better.  The bottom line?  “Go slowly, carry a light, be cautious and aware of your surroundings, wear your helmet when you remember it, and, most crucially, advocate for more bicycle infrastructure and slower vehicle traffic.”  See either article for an exploration of these lessons and more.
CityLab article here and Vox News article here.

Paving Shoulders Helps Everyone

shouldersA recent article in the Brockville Recorder and Times highlighted the renewed and repeated call for paving shoulders on county roads.  Let’s use this opportunity to shed some light on why this is a good idea.

First of all, it saves taxpayers money.  Yes, perhaps counter-intuitive, given that it costs more to upgrade a road to include paved shoulders, especially when culverts, drainage ditches and rock cuts are considered. However, the surrounding counties – Lennox-Addington, Stormont-Dundas and Lanark – all have paved shoulders policies. Many other jurisdictions in North America do as well. Their experience is that the reduced operational costs pay back the increased capital costs over 8 – 10 years.  The operational savings come from reduced need to regrade gravel shoulders a few times a year, rebuild gravel shoulders when eroded or damaged by winter snow clearing activity, improved drainage and longer lifespan of the asphalt road edges when vehicle run-off is eliminated, especially on the inner radius of curves.

The savings are accelerated when considering that the capital costs of road works are usually shared with the provincial or federal governments, reducing the local taxpayers’ direct burden to 50% in many cases. Add to this the fact that all the savings are operational – 100% covered by local taxpayers in the county budget.

We could end the business case there. Paving shoulders saves taxpayers money over the long run. End of story.  Not so fast!  There are other savings too.

Statistics from jurisdictions with paved shoulders show that single vehicle “off the edge” crashes are reduced anywhere from 9% to 40% (this latter from Florida).  Every year in Leeds-Grenville we read about a handful of single vehicle crashes in which the motorist drove off the edge of the road and couldn’t recover, often going on to hit a tree or a utility pole.   Paved shoulders provide some recovery room, leading to crash reductions.  This saves lives.  This also saves the costs associated with those collisions: emergency response, trauma and longer term health care, insurance, lost wages and funerals. Some articles suggest that for higher-risk roads, this aspect of paved shoulders alone provides a monetary business case.

Almost as a side benefit, not costing shoulders2anything at all when the above is considered, paved shoulders support active mobility.  Many country residents use county road shoulders for walking – walking their dogs, walking for exercise.  Paving shoulders provides sure footing and a place to walk.  Paved shoulders also provide riding space for people riding bikes out of the travel lane.  This latter point is especially important given the growth of cycle tourism through this region.  The Ontario Waterfront Trail route follows County Road 2, and it’s one of the least bicycle friendly stretches of Trail in the network’s 1,600 km.

In November 2011, county staff were directed to develop a paved shoulders policy for consideration by council.  That never happened.  Let’s renew the call for a common sense policy that saves money and lives, and that supports active mobility which in turn generates economic benefit in tourism and improved health.

Active Mobility Is Active Prevention For Diabetes

Today, April 7th is World Health Day 2016, devoted to diabetes.  The epidemic of type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be stemmed, slowed and prevented by population-wide modest increases in everyday activity.

Today, the World Health Organization released a “Global Report on Diabetes” (pdf) which reports, “Urban planning and active transport policies can ensure that walking, cycling and other forms of non-motorized transport are accessible and safe for all.”  Active mobility is so valuable because it offers modes of transportation that insert incidental physical activity into everyday life.

DiabetesWe know that our current health care system is financially unsustainable, and that even small incremental increases in physical activity return large offsets in health care costs.  One-time investments in infrastructure and encouragement for active mobility return 10 to 20 times in future annual health care offsets.

Brockville City Council have endorsed an Official Plan, Sustainability Plan and Healthy Community Vision that all include a commitment to improved infrastructure for walking and cycling.  Hold Council accountable.