Greenways Link Neighbourhoods

You’ll soon hear discussion of “Neighbourhood Greenways” in Brockville. In design and function, they fit between off-road trails and complete streets, aimed at providing calm routes through low-traffic neighbourhoods, linking them to each other as well as to busier and more direct thoroughfares (spine/core routes) that need complete streets or protected bikeway treatment. 

As described on the City of Seattle’s website, “Neighborhood greenways are safer, calm residential streets for you, your family and neighbors. On streets with low car volumes and speeds a greenway can:

• Improve safety
• Help people cross busy streets
• Discourage cars from using neighborhood streets to avoid main streets
• Protect the residential character of our neighborhoods
• Keep speeds low
• Get people to where they want to go like parks, schools, shops and restaurants
• Neighborhood greenways do not add bike lanes and there are minimal if any on-street parking impacts.”

Further codified and described in engineering guides such as the NACTO’s Urban Bikeway Design Guide, neighbourhood greenways were initially called “bicycle boulevards”. After a few years of development, the concept was well tested, proven and supported wholeheartedly by residents seeking to reclaim their calm, safe, family-friendly setting. This was captured nicely in a 2010 video production in Portland.

In Vancouver, where cycling now commands a 10% mode share, neighbourhood greenways are an important part of the overall transportation plan, as or more important than the necessary network of protected bike lanes on core/spine routes, as described in this recent Globe and Mail article.

In Brockville, neighbourhood greenways will provide connections between residential areas and the city’s core/spine network, including the Brock Trail, as envisioned in the cycling network (pdf – see Schedule 5) approved by the City in the Official Plan.

As the Globe and Mail article reports, “Networks of traffic-calmed streets can be an important – and politically feasible – middle step for a city to make cycling safer and easier for many, but, ultimately, separated lanes on busy streets are the key to getting more commuters peddling [sic] to work, according to Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s former director of planning.

“Still, the vast network of bike-friendly side streets have helped make Vancouver the safest city for cyclists by far on the continent, according to a recent study of nine major hubs by John Pucher, a professor emeritus at Rutgers University and an expert on urban transportation.

“’By far the biggest safety benefits are in terms of huge declines in traffic injuries of children,’ Mr. Pucher says of the side streets calmed for cyclists. ‘What resident of a neighbourhood is going to oppose this?’”

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.