Fifty Shades Of Walkability Benefits

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Photo: Flickr user Loren Kerns

This is a great summary piece that lists fifty different reasons why cities of all sizes need to pay more attention to design that puts people, community and walkability, and moving people in a way that creates interaction, ahead of moving cars. The list covers the gamut from physical and population physical and mental health, to social community, to economic factors. Read more here.

Social And Economic Benefits Of Walkability

neighborhood-walkability-shopsThis article from the Sierra Club highlights the social and economic benefits found in neighbourhoods with higher walk scores.  “People who could hoof it reported more trust and involvement, and are happier and healthier than those in less walkable neighborhoods.”  As well, “A 2009 study by CEOs for Cities found that homes with an above-average Walk Score sold for up to $34,000 more than their no-sidewalk-in-sight counterparts.”  That of course raises the issue of social equity. Should people have to pay more to live in a walkable neighbourhood, or should cities be designed to be put community first?
Read more (with links to research) here.

Ramping Up For The Big Jump

BigJump“For years now, cities around the US have been realizing that with simple investments, bicycles become a practical part of life in a great city. One piece at a time, cities have been learning how to make that happen. Leading cities are now working to fit it all together. They want to connect stand-alone projects into safe and convenient networks and see the Big Jump in physical activity, economic investment and neighbourhood connectivity that follows. It’s about connecting the dots, linking together protected bike lanes, quiet side streets and separate pathways, helping people get to where they want to go – jobs, education, transit, recreation.”

Cities are now applying to be one of ten selected by People For Bikes for help with Big Jump integration projects. Of note, 20% of the letters of intent to date are from cities of less than 50,000 population.  Learn more here, and view the promo video here.

Political Leadership On Active Transportation

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Before and after – New St, Burlington ON

New Street in Burlington is an urban collector with a traffic load more than double that measured on Laurier Blvd or King St W in Brockville. New St is currently configured as four lanes – two in each direction.  A pilot project underway will see New St put on a “road diet” and upgraded to two lanes plus a centre left turn lane, plus a buffered bike lane on each side.  The reconfiguration is not expected to cause material slowdowns on the road, which will remain below capacity in its new configuration. Of note, Mayor Rick Goldring has taken to social media in defense of the project, providing answers to all the questions arising. This is a good read for those still in the 1970’s paradigm for road design and usage.  Read here.  For a more detailed look at the project, which has lots of learnings for Brockville, see here.

The Limits Of Data-Based Plannning

DreamBike“When it comes to transportation planning, we have copious data about some things, and almost nothing about others. Plus, there’s an evident systematic bias in favor of current modes of urban transportation and travel patterns. The car-centric data we have about transportation fundamentally warps the field’s decision-making. Unless we’re careful, over-reliance on big data will only perpetuate that problem—if not make it worse.” Read more here.

Complete Streets Approaches For Rural Areas

shouldersA new backgrounder from Complete Streets for Canada examines the need to apply complete streets approaches to rural areas. This adds to the impetus for, among other things, a “paved shoulders” policy which has an easy business case, yet whose benefits go much further than dollars. “With higher road mortality rates and poorer health outcomes than their urban counterparts, rural areas in particular can benefit from safer roadways that encourage walking, cycling and other forms of active transportation.  Transportation equity is also critical, as those living without a vehicle in rural areas can face serious challenges of mobility in the absence of public transportation and safe walking and cycling routes.  On a larger scale, a Complete Streets approach can have economic benefits, by enlivening a rural main street or historic downtown. ” Read more here.

Fringe Maniac Piece Confuses The Conversation

New parking-protected bike lane on Toronto's Bloor St just prior to completion.
New parking-protected bike lane on Toronto’s Bloor St just prior to completion.

An interesting article was recently published in the National Post by a journalist who’s a self-proclaimed “fringe maniac” cyclist.  Several people have asked me about it – I’ve read it through several times, put it in context with the body of research and case studies from places large and small, and enjoyed a few good conversations about it.  Continue reading “Fringe Maniac Piece Confuses The Conversation”

Ontario By Bike August Newsletter

OBBlogoCheck out the latest newsletter from Ontario By Bike – your best source of information on the cycle tourism scene, for those looking to discover Ontario in an up-close way, as well as those looking to benefit from the most rapidly growing tourism activity.

This month’s edition features Waterloo Region,  Windsor/Essex County/Pelee Island (where the annual Great Waterfront Trail Adventure is currently underway), the Rideau Heritage Route and more.

Check out the newsletter here.

Driving responsibly…

BIKEPEDSAFE3-CHN-102314-HLL.JPG“Rather than contribute to a society where walking and biking around the city can feel like dodging bullets, or where children can’t walk to the neighbor’s house without an adult, be part of the solution. Drive safely, and encourage your friends to do the same. If you don’t, well, you might just kill someone.”  

The paradigm has irrevocably shifted from motorists being rulers of public roads, to an era in which Vision Zero is gaining ground, reverse onus is gaining precedence in civil suits, and speed limits are being reduced to favour more vulnerable road users in residential areas of many larger cities. Against this sea change, several articles have delivered blunt messages to those exhibiting more aggressive road behaviour.  This article is one of the more politely worded ones. Read article here.

[And for those of you whose blood pressure is rising, face is turning red, and are blurting, “But, But, But….”, read this too.]