“Community green spaces are where communities come together to meet, talk and play – it’s where people find common ground and connect.
According to the new TD GreenSights Report, the majority of Canadians – 95 per cent – believe that access to community green space will be important to their quality of life in the future. However, there is room for improvement: three-quarters (77 per cent) say the green space closest to their home could be better.”
The report provides insights and a strong case for keeping our more natural green spaces undeveloped – spaces like St Lawrence Park, the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area, and the Brock Trail linking them.
Active School Travel, a.k.a. Active & Safe Routes to School, is ramping up in Ontario with a provincial injection of funds and resources. Some places, like Ottawa, have made good progress. In Brockville, the understanding and desire is in place at UCDSB, as are some small beginnings. With provincial co-ordination, hopefully local action will regain momentum. This Ottawa newsletter provides a good overview.
Faced with complaints and concerns about neighbourhood speeding drivers and school zone problems like those in Brockville, here is one Ontario city’s innovative approach. Take this idea to your councilor.
A generation ago, Vision Zero was launched as a systems-based approach to reducing traffic harm. The vision is simple – zero fatalities. The means are more complex – recognizing that people make mistakes that cause harm, and designing roads and traffic environments that minimize risk when mistakes are made. Vision Zero has been adopted as policy in leading European countries and many N.A. cities.
Sweden is now “Moving Beyond Zero” on the principle that eliminating harm is good, yet encouraging healthier behaviours and lifestyles is even better. http://movingbeyondzero.com/
Sometimes the relentless flood of evidence in research and case studies, all showing the overwhelming positive bottom line and growth of cycle tourism is, well, overwhelming. It can seem cold and analytic, which it needs to be.
Yet local stories inspire and provide context, which is also important, especially in small towns and conservative rural areas.
“Bicycle tourism has an unexpected and humble ability to prop up small economies. And it is those small-but-lasting impacts that we want communities to expect and believe in, and then build from.”
Matt Pender’s piece in The Star, talking about the success of Toronto’s Bloor St bicycle facilities, reminds us once again that when we build cycling facilities that serve the majority, we’re not serving the already-committed minority who would call themselves cyclists. Rather, we are targeting the nearly two-thirds of people who occasionally ride a bike and will eagerly do so more often when they feel safe. Indeed, designing for the “everyday cyclist” always results in a large uptake of cycling activity. The growth is entirely from the cohort of “people who ride a bike”. This busts the myth of the few remaining anti-laners who proclaim, “We don’t need bike lanes; there are no cyclists on the street.” The evidence is clear. Build it and people will ride. Read Matt’s article here.
Andre Picards’ opinion piece in the Globe and Mail summarizes quite nicely several years of research and case studies on the economic and health benefits of designing cities to be more walkable. His short and insightful piece summarizes our current state well: “Walking has to become a lever for social change, big and small – for everything from healthier neighbourhoods to a more sustainable planet – and walkability needs to be imbued into the DNA of urban planning.” Read the article here.
Ontario is the provincial leader in moving to prioritize “complete streets” approaches to planning. Indeed, 84% of Ontarians now live in a municipality where complete streets are either provincially mandated or have been adopted as city policy. This reporter believes it won’t be long until all Ontario municipalities fall under the same requirements and road grants will be predicated upon the inclusion of complete streets design. Against this backdrop, there are many small cities who likely don’t have a clue what complete streets are all about. There’s lots of general information out there, along with many city guides (e.g. Toronto, Ottawa). The article highlighted here delves into some of the intricacies that go into approaching a complete streets design for a project. Read the article here.
There seems to be no end of articles highlighting the economic boost that small towns gain when they consciously attract and serve the growing cycle tourism sector. There are lots of case studies right here in Ontario, accompanied by compelling research published by Ontario By Bike, to back up the claims. Sometimes though, it’s nice just to read about small-town success stories and find ideas that can be adapted and adopted for local benefit. This is one such article, which you can read here.
“Are Bike Lanes Good for Traffic?” is the title, yet the article is really a wide-ranging description of the progress being made everywhere as public roads are transformed to be safer for moving people regardless of choice of transportation. It was published in autotrader.ca and serves to both illuminate and describe the variety of approaches, designs, and social factors brought into play as roads built first for cars are now reshaped to serve moving people. Read the article here.
Those of us who live in slow-starter small cities rely on the larger cities and their deeper resources to figure out what works really well and what doesn’t, and to measure and publish their results. Cities like Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and others have all got great stories to tell. In this short article, New York City’s Department of Transportation summarizes the results of a multi-year investment in cycling facilities, revealing some stunning yet not surprising numbers over a five-year period, including a 50% increase in regular cyclists and an 80% increase in cycle commuting.
Read the article here, or download the report PDF here.
Eight national health organizations are calling on the federal government to develop and implement an active transportation strategy for Canada, citing research that links moderate amounts of exercise woven into the activities of daily living with significant reductions in the instance and severity of several chronic diseases and their associated healthcare costs. Read the article here.
Ontario drivers who put others at risk, especially those walking or cycling, risk losing their privilege to drive, paying much steeper fines, facing jail time, and earning higher demerit points that come with years of higher insurance premiums. Of special note, convictions for distracted driving will incur escalating penalties up to a 30 day license suspension, $3,000 fine and 6 demerit points for 3rd conviction. Failing to stop at a pedestrian crosswalk, crossover or school crossing will earn you a $1,000 fine and four demerit points. Continue reading “Ontario Introducing Tougher Penalties For Bad Driving”
Much has been written about the need to design cycling facilities that serve the majority of people, those who are “interested yet concerned”. This cohort represents the majority, those who are quite willing to use a bicycle more often for everyday activities, yet are dissuaded by safety concerns. Designing to this cohort’s needs led to the adoption of protected lanes as the default wherever possible. And indeed, the largest uptakes in cycling activity occur with the implementation of protected lanes.
In Ontario, survey results have yielded the same outcomes and MTO has embedded the findings as part of their design guidelines in the Ontario Traffic Manual (OTM Book 18 – Cycling Facilities). Available here (large PDF download).
In Lanark County the Council of Smiths Falls is making an important first step toward joining Mississippi Mills as a bike friendly community. Town council has approved an initial priority list of cycling infrastructure projects as part of an application for provincial OMCCP funding. Read more here.
One doesn’t need to spend much time cycling around Brockville anywhere near parked cars to quickly learn that most car drivers are pretty lazy when it comes to checking for oncoming traffic, including those on bikes, before opening their car door and potentially dooring someone.
Quite simply, bike lanes help to calm traffic at the same time as they make roads safer for biking for all ages and all abilities. Roads with cycling facilities become more family-friendly and that in turn helps neighbourhoods become more attractive to families. The evidence supporting the positive impact of bike lanes on property values has been well-established for over a decade, and has been reported on this blog before (here and here). Yet every once in a while an article comes along that weaves this information and more into a compelling picture of how cycling facilities are an integral part of family-friendly neighbourhoods – places where families are willing to pay more to relocate. Read more here.