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.

News: FCM’s National Measures Report Includes Active Mobility

FSMPCPThe Partners for Climate Protection program’s National Measures Report 2015 shows how local governments across Canada develop and use climate change action plans to reduce carbon emissions, enhance the environment and create healthier and more resilient communities.

Increasing modal share of active transportation is a key factor in reducing GHGs from transportation and creating opportunities for improved health.

60% of Canadians live in one of the 280 municipalities active as Partners for Climate Protection. Brockville is not one of them.

News: Cycling Mode Share in Ottawa Reaching Critical Mass

cfscwide_colour_small_low_res“Cycling in Ottawa has reached a “tipping point” and needs more infrastructure to keep up, a local advocacy group says.

“Citizens for Safe Cycling’s annual report, released Saturday, shows cycling trips have jumped 44 per cent between 2010 and 2015.

“Not to mention, Ottawa’s cycling growth was third-fastest among cities in 17 countries monitored by Eco-Counter, an international bike data centre.”  Read more here.

News: Active School Travel Continues to Decline

ASRS1As reported by Metrolinx in their quinquennial review of school travel habits, active travel to school continues to decline.  This bodes poorly for kids’ current and future physical and mental health, as well as their academic performance.  Read article here.

In Lanark, Leeds & Grenville, a partnership among UCDSB, the Health Unit and various police forces, school parent groups and communities is helping to grow momentum around active and safe routes to school.
Read more here.

12th Annual Eastern Ontario School MTB Challenge – May 20, 2016

MTBAt Limerick Forest just north of Roebuck, over 100 kids from kindergarten to high school, from Bancroft, Kingston, Ottawa and more locally, will gather for this 12th annual event.
The courses vary in length and difficulty for different age groups, and there are individual and team prizes for everyone!
Check out this smash Youtube video of the 2015 event!

News: Research shows neighbourhood design linked with activity levels

IMG_2346E1cC2“Design of urban environments has the potential to contribute substantially to physical activity. Similarity of findings across cities suggests the promise of engaging urban planning, transportation, and parks sectors in efforts to reduce the health burden of the global physical inactivity pandemic.”

This cross-sectional study measured the activity of 7,000 individuals in 14 cities around the world, finding strong a strong link between the walkability of the urban environment, and people’s everyday activity levels.

Read article here, and the study abstract here.

Active Mobility’s Influence On Real Estate Development

“Active Transportation and Real Estate: The Next Frontier” explores the interconnections among walking, bicycling, and real estate development. It showcases the growing synergies between real estate development and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure investments.

Across the globe, developers are seizing a competitive advantage by leveraging growing interest in biking and walking among residents and tenants. And municipalities are promoting health, equity, and sustainability by investing in active transportation infrastructure projects, such as trails and greenways. Learn more about these trends and opportunities inside the report.”

This report, just published by the Urban Land Institute, details case studies around the world and presents compelling evidence for the economic benefits of active mobility. Along with environmental and health benefits, this report catalogues in detail the positive impact on property values and profitability when city planners and developers meet the growing demands for active lifestyles.  Learn more here.

Active Mobility Shaping Better Real Estate

While some players in the real estate industry can’t seem to wrap their minds around trends that continue to build and gain momentum, most real estate professionals and developers not only see the trends, but are profiting from them.  At this article in the Washington Post highlights, “Real estate developers are building more “trail-oriented” communities to meet a growing demand for bike-friendly and walkable places to live and work.”  Read article here.

The article references a recent study by the Urban Land Institute, “Active Transportation and Real Estate: The Next Frontier” which explores the economic benefits of developments that support active mobility.

Active Mobility Boosts Mental Health Too

While the physical health benefits of regular SmilingRideexercise are well studied and generally well known, evidence on the mental health benefits has been growing too in recent years.  This is especially true for exercise like walking and biking, especially outside in a natural (green) setting, and especially when integrated into the activities of daily living. All the more reason to leave the car parked and walk or bike!  Read more.

Toward A More Age Friendly Brockville

IMG_1269cmpThere are various initiatives in Brockville that have a common goal of creating an environment that’s conducive to active, healthy living for all ages.  Groups supporting “youth friendly”, “age friendly”, “walk friendly”, “bike friendly” and “safe communities” are but a few of the many efforts underway.

The Age Friendly Brockville group just launched their website and an initial survey to gather input from the community. You can learn more at the website here (including the survey).

As an aside, seniors are the fastest growing segment amongst those choosing to cycle, for both purpose and for pleasure! That’s why our design target for the Brockville Cycling Network is those aged 8 to 80.

Rightsizing Streets

“The needs of our communities evolve over time, and our street design should, too. That’s the idea behind ‘rightsizing streets’ – reconfiguring the layout of our streets to better serve the people who use them, whether they’re commuters driving, shoppers walking, or children bicycling. Across the country, communities large and small are achieving impressive safety, mobility, and community outcomes by implementing such reconfigurations.” Read more.