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.
In his paper, “Mobility and Innovation: the New Transportation Paradigm”, Todd Litman, founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, explores the economic, social and health imperatives behind the radical shifts in transportation policy and practices sweeping the developed world.
Recognizing that the major transportation innovations of the last few decades don’t help us get to places faster but instead more cheaply, more conveniently, and more safely, the author then notes that, “The human experience is increasingly urban. Cities are, by definition, places where many people and activities locate close together. This proximity facilitates positive interactions, both planned (accessing shops, services, jobs and entertainment) and unplanned (encountering old friends while walking on the street or riding in a bus, or seeing interesting products in a store window). As a result, urban living tends to increase our productivity and creativity, a phenomenon known as economies of agglomeration.”
That very process of agglomeration however, traditionally built around the automobile, spawns challenges of congestion, cost, pollution and declining health. The author then fully explores the dynamics of the new transportation and planning paradigms that have taken hold over the last decade, more focused on putting people first, and allowing people to move and interact conveniently, comfortably, and safely.
It’s a fascinating “big picture” read which you can find here.
“The evidence for why we should actively transport ourselves in the city is mounting, but there are some technicalities to work out. You want to get yourself around under your own steam, but where do you start? It can seem a bit daunting to change habits and possibly routes. Thankfully, we live in an era with lots of tools at our fingertips that can help us out.” And with that, a blogger from Calgary explains how she adopted more active ways of getting around the city with her kids and integrated that activity into everyday life. Read more here.
For a more complete how-to as you plan your transition to having more fun every day by walking and biking, check out Vélo Québec’s “ABC’s of Active Transportation“.
This article provides a brief survey of the top cycling neighbourhoods in Canada, based on four criteria: cycling mode share or the percent of people commuting by cycling; proximity to useful things – does the cycling network link origins and destinations that matter; cycling network quality – it’s connectedness, contiguity and safety; and finally, backup transportation – for those times when cycling just won’t work, what are the alternative means of transportation.
Of interest, the entry point to this list, the 15th ranked neighbourhood is Kitsilano with a cycle commuting mode share of 13.1%. The top ranked neighbourhood is Strathcona, also in Vancouver, with a massive 18.3% cycle commuting mode share.
The latest newsletter from Green Communities Canada on Active School Travel highlights funding for community projects, an updated website, and updates on bike to school week, a seminar on air pollution hazards around drop-off zones, and more. Check out the newsletter here, where you can also subscribe for updates.
A new survey by Nanos Research for Share the Road adds to the trend in earlier robust research showing continued and strong public support for improving cycling in Ontario. The majority agree that getting more people riding bikes benefits everyone, that public funding should be used to improve cycling infrastructure, that investments in cycling are important for public health, and more.
One note of interest in this survey is the support for cycling’s impact on social equity, with the majority strongly or somewhat agreeing with the statement, “Cycling isn’t just about recreation, it’s about equality. For many individuals transportation costs are a major financial burden. If someone’s only or best way to get to work or go shopping is a bike, they should have the option to ride their bike and ride it in safety. That’s a good reason for the provincial government to promote cycling in Ontario.”
Of no surprise is the continued finding that roughly half of those surveyed thought negatively about the behaviour of those driving, and half of those surveyed thought negatively about the behaviour of those cycling. This aligns with other research showing that those cycling and those driving float the law in about equal numbers.
The full presentation and report makes for interesting reading and adds to the body of evidence showing general public support to improve cycling in the province. For further information and links to download this and previous research, read more here.
Methodology: Nanos conducted an online survey of 1,004 Ontarians, 18 years of age or older, between April 5th and 10th, 2018. The results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender using the latest Census information and the sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Ontario. The research was commissioned by Share the Road Cycling Coalition and was conducted by Nanos.
At the 10th Annual Ontario Bike Summit held last weekend Toronto, the Town of Caledon and the Town of Cobourg were awarded the Bicycle Friendly Community designation at the bronze level. This brings to 42 the number of Bicycle Friendly Community designated municipalities in the province. Fully 70% of Ontarians now live in a bike friendly community.
The City of Waterloo achieved gold status, becoming the first mid-size city in Ontario to do so and joining Toronto and Ottawa at that gold level.
There are now 3 gold, 8 silver, and 31 bronze designated Bicycle Friendly Communities in Ontario, evidence of the momentum underway to create a truly bicycle friendly province. These are the municipalities realizing the economic benefits of creating healthier, more desirable places to live, work, grow, and play.
Planning is well underway to develop a province-wide cycling network to connect communities and destinations across Ontario. With input from stakeholders, communities, and the public, an initial network of primary cycling routes across the province has been identified.
Learn more about this project here.
Last week the province launched a new round of cycling initiatives, “Action Plan 2.0”, to extend, deepen and diversify the progress made under “Action Plan 1.0”.
The plan is based on Ontario’s cycling strategy delivered in 2013, “#CycleON“, reconfirming and extending the delivery of facilities, programs and services that encourage more people to get on bikes more often, for purpose and for pleasure.
Read the provincial announcement here.
Learn more about cycling in Ontario and download the cycling strategy, Action Plan 1.0, and Action Plan 2.0 documents here.
As more cities try to improve walkability–from car-free “superblocks” in Barcelona to heat-protected walkways in Dubai–a new report outlines the reasons behind the shift, the actions that cities can take to move away from a car-centric world, and why walkability matters. Read more here.
It’s Spring, and with Spring comes the annual round of Bike Summits to rejuvenate and re-stoke our interest in working for public roads that better serve the needs of the general public.
All of the summits draw elected representatives, professionals, advocates and other interested parties from public works, transportation, planning, consulting, economic development, education, tourism, recreation and other disciplines together.
As this piece from Strong Towns articulates, there is much to be gained from better and more productively engaging youth in community building, and ensuring their voice is heard. In our old-style local newspaper the few vocal “angry old folks” tend to dominate the reporting of new developments , after all they provide easy click bait fodder. What’s missing is the voice of youth – especially the young professionals – who tend to have a fairly clear picture of the kind of community in which they would like to live and create jobs. And in some key respects that isn’t the kind of community the fading generation would fight to preserve.
“Talent attraction and retention are buzzwords that we’re hearing all around the world right now. Communities are shifting their mindsets as they’ve come to realize that young people pick places before they pick jobs. They pick amenities over low property taxes. They pick walkability and quality public transportation over a confluence of interstate highways”
Another great article from Strong Towns highlighting the clear economic benefits of streets that are walkable — that feel safe, encourage people to walk and mingle, and provide retailers and other businesses with walk-in traffic. Read more here.
Of note, the Plan will cover cycling and walking as well as other forms of active transportation, will take into consideration work already done for the Official Plan, and since then by the Brock Trail and cycling advisory committees. The plan will include consideration for things like pedestrian crosswalks and crossovers, staged implementation, completion of the Brock Trail, and more.
Public engagement opportunities and development of the plan will include open public workshops at the design stage as well as an opportunity to review the proposed plans. It’s expected that the workshops will be open and welcoming to all members of the public, to work together to identify and prioritize opportunities to help build a community that better supports choices for healthy activity, both for purpose and for pleasure.
Action Plan 2.0 of the Ontario Cycling Strategy #CYCLEON has been published for public input on the Environmental Registry website as well as MTO’s website. The plan continues and strengthens program elements begun in Action Plan 1.0 (pdf), with continued emphasis on Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation/Planning.
The proposed Action Plan 2.0 is open for public comment until March 7.
See here for the Environmental Registry page.
See here for the Action Plan 2.0 proposal (pdf) on MTO’s website.
Save the date: May 10 – 11. The 5th Annual Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit will be held in Brockville on these dates.
Thursday, May 10 will feature presentations, panelists and discussions revolving around how to create plans and projects and how to move them forward. This is of heightened interest this year, the first year of four for the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program in which many municipalities and townships throughout Eastern Ontario are receiving significant funding to help make our public roads more usable for all.
Tentatively, Friday, May 11 will be a morning session focused on cycle tourism – how our region can better gain from this fast-growing sector of the tourism economy.
Flat terrain and warm winters are well down the list of factors that contribute to how a community successfully encourages more people to ride more often, both for purpose and pleasure. Read more here.
The linked article nicely summarizes the individual and population health benefits accruing from introducing even moderate amounts of cycling into everyday travel. On a population basis, it’s no surprise that every $1 invested in cycling facilities that encourage more people to ride more often results in health care cost reductions of $3 – $20 per annum down the road. Read more here.
Here’s a great article from AARP exploring all the ways that communities benefit from becoming more bike friendly – for those who don’t ride (yet). Not surprisingly, the benefits go well beyond, “the bike beside you is a car that isn’t”. Read article here.