Serving “invisible cyclists” too

In our community of Brockville, like most cities, especially post-industrial centres struggling to rebuild, we have a socio-demographic cohort of those living with low income. These are the “invisible cyclists”, those for whom walking and cycling is a necessity rather than a choice. For various reasons they often don’t have an opportunity to participate in surveys, attend public information sessions, or have their voices heard in forums discussing better choices in safely getting around town for work, school, shopping and appointments.

Invisible cyclists don’t travel in packs, wearing brightly coloured Lycra outfits. They likely aren’t seen leisurely cruising the Brock Trail either. Rather, they are to be found at dusk or dawn, often on a cast-off bike, headed to or from work. Or coming home from shopping, or a few bags of groceries hung from the handlebars. Easy transportation and the ability to carry packages is an often overlooked yet simple factor in food equity.

One of the considerations in designing a network of cycling routes is that it be safe, convenient, and easily navigable by those of All Ages & Abilities. A cycling network that includes as key destinations workplaces, grocery stores, pharmacies, schools and so on helps to serve invisible cyclists.

Designing for “everyday cycling”, one of the design principles of Brockville’s nascent network, is an important aspect of supporting social equity that must not be overlooked.

Other cycling-related approaches which address social inequity around basic transportation could include installing a small bike share with four or five bikes at Community Hub locations, providing an easier way to get to and from the grocery store than walking. Another common approach is supporting the establishment and operation of a bike repair co-op or a “bicycle recycle” shop.

For a great article on invisible bikers, read here.
For a deeper, evidence-based exploration of how social equity factors into the benefits and challenges of active transportation, see this paper (pdf) from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

New Ontario cycling website

New bike lanes on King St W and Cty Rd 2 in Brockville (Oct 10, 2016)

As the province responds to residents’ requests for broader and deeper  investment in support of cycling as a convenient, safe and affordable way of getting around, the volume and variety of programs continues to grow. A new provincial website has been launched by the government to make it easier to navigate through, and find out more information about, everything that’s underway. That new site can be found at www.ontario.ca/page/cycling-ontario

Bike paths: Why cities should focus on quality, not quantity

In this column from the Montréal Gazette, columnist Andy Riga interviews Dale Bracewell, Vancouver transportation planner, on that city’s strategic approach to focus on building quality cycling infrastructure that serves All Ages & Abilities (AAA) rather than just putting in kilometres of facilities that do not encourage the widest diversity of people to get out and bike more often.

The key to encouraging riders from 8 to 80, rookies to hardcore, inexperienced to confident, is the containment of motorized vehicles so that cycling traffic is separated. See the photo above, from the city of Vancouver, for a typical spectrum of cycling facilities from least to most encouraging.

As Dale says, “We were having some success with cycling but we were really still serving the person who already was choosing to cycle. Now we’re designing for children, for seniors, for new people cycling, for bike-share users.
It really shifted the way we approach cycling infrastructure. We’re not delivering as many bike-lane kilometres as we’re used to or compared to cities like Montreal. Now, as best we can, we design for people to be able to ride with their kids, or for a senior who still cycles or wants to, and for a person new to cycling.”

For the complete article please read here.

 

Ontario Passes Legislation to Keep Kids Safe on Local Roads

 

From today’s announcement:
Ontario passed legislation today to protect the most vulnerable users of local roads, including children, seniors, pedestrians and cyclists.

The Safer School Zones Act gives municipalities more tools to fight speeding and dangerous driving in their communities, including:

  • Automated speed enforcement (ASE) technology, which will help catch speeders. Municipalities will have the option to use this technology in school zones and also in community safety zones on roads with speed limits below 80 km/h.
  • The ability to create zones with reduced speed limits to decrease the frequency and severity of pedestrian-vehicle collisions in urban areas.
  • A streamlined process for municipalities to participate in Ontario’s effective Red Light Camera program without the need for lengthy regulatory approval.

Municipalities, police boards and road safety advocates from across Ontario have asked for these tools to help keep roads safe, particularly in areas with children and seniors. With the passage of this new legislation, municipalities will now have the option to implement road safety measures in a way that makes sense in their local communities.

Ontario’s roads have consistently ranked among the safest in North America, and these new tools will help make communities even safer for all vulnerable road users.

Read the full announcement, with links to further information, here.

News: Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program

(May 29, 2017) The “Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program” (OMCCP) was announced today, deepening the province’s commitment to making it easier for commuters and families to get around by bike. In this year’s tranche of the multi-year program, the province is investing $50 million from its carbon market to fund this and other new initiatives that support commuter cycling infrastructure. The OMCCP will provide eligible municipalities with funding to build more bike lanes and other cycling infrastructure, or enhance existing infrastructure. This investment will help promote safety for cyclists and make cycling more comfortable and appealing for daily commutes and other frequent trips.

Of note for Brockville:

  • Only municipalities with a current cycling plan are eligible. Brockville does not have a current transportation plan, active transportation plan, or cycling plan. These were committed in the Official Plan, yet motions to move them forward have been defeated more than once at Council.
  • OMCC program funding may be used to develop a cycling plan, with up to 80% of the cost covered.
  • OMCC program funding may be used to develop cycling facilities, with up to 80% of the cost covered.
  • Program applications are open June 5th, with a deadline of August 18th.

This program is a follow-on to the Ontario Municipal Cycling Infrastructure Program under which Brockville is receiving $325,000 for projects currently underway. (Read here)

See the Ontario announcement here.
See OMCCP details here.

Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit – Agenda

The agenda is set for the 4th Annual Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit to be held May 31st and June 1st in Carleton Place. Of note in the agenda, which is provided below, are an update on provincial funding programs for municipalities, the provincial cycling network, the provincial cycle tourism strategy, and a presentation by the lead investigator for the public health report prepared for Belleville which showed strong financial incentive for that city’s recent decision to approve further implementation of bike lanes. For registration, see here.

EOATS2017

Belleville Council Unanimously Approves Next Tranche Of Bike Lanes

Belleville city council has approved the next round of bike lanes to be installed, citing safety and encouragement of everday cycling, along with health benefits that will offset millions in healthcare costs over the next decade.

This blog reported recently on Belleville’s coming moves, as well as the report prepared by their regional health unit which used the World Health Organization’s model to monetize the health benefits. That study found that, “every dollar invested in related infrastructure for biking and walking could result in more than $2.78 to $5.56 in health benefits.”

Belleville is a city similar to Brockville, divided by Highway 401, the major rail lines and water courses. They also have some residents who went on record saying their street, Bridge Street, is too dangerous and they wanted to keep it that way, similar to a few residents on Laurier Blvd. in Brockville. However, “City staff indicated the street is wide enough for the lanes. Council voted unanimously for the project which will go ahead this year along with lanes on Adam Street and College Street East.”

What is notable in the reporting of the council meeting is the strong support from councillors to moving Belleville forward as a community in which public roads are safer for all, and their understanding that this is necessary for the future health and vitality of their city. As an example is Councillor Mitch Panciuk’s comment, “It is inexcusable that it took until 2016 for the city to have its first cycling lane and we have a long way to catch up.”

See the Intelligencer article here, and the Quinte News article here.
The Health Unit’s study can be found here (pdf).

How Your Suburb Can Make You Healthier

photo from Momentum Mag

Communities across the continent are realizing the health, social, and economic benefits of designing neighbourhoods and cities, large and small, that encourage people to move themselves more often. This article explores the changes that are underway as paradigms continue to shift rapidly, and how different designs meet the needs of different types of activities. One compelling aspect of this article is the emphasis placed on the need for changes in thinking with respect to zoning, community design and political will. Read more here.

Separated Bike Facilities Crucial For Both Safety And Encouragement

Herkimer bike lane – Barry Gray, The Hamilton Spectator

From Cycling Industry News:

“A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health has concluded that physical separation from motor traffic is “crucial” to reducing the higher than average cyclist injury rates seen across the U.S.”

“In an leading editorial to sit alongside the deeper study, the authors write: ‘bicycle infrastructure can indeed help improve cycling safety and increase cycling levels. That is clearly demonstrated by decades of evidence from Europe, by the 10 US cities listed in Table 1 (below), and by the article on Boston by Pedroso et al. However, the type and quality of bicycle infrastructure matter as well. It is crucial to provide physical separation from fast-moving, high-volume motor vehicle traffic and better intersection design to avoid conflicts between cyclists and motor vehicles. More and better bicycle infrastructure and safer cycling would encourage Americans to make more of their daily trips by bicycle and, thus, help raise the currently low physical activity levels of the US population.'”  Read the article here.

 

Kingston Continues Investing In Safer Roads

Bath Rd, Kingston

A recent editorial in KingstonRegion.com outlines the process and plans for Bath Rd in Kingston, one of this region’s Bicycle Friendly Communities (which also include Belleville, Cornwall, Ottawa and Mississippi Mills).  As the editorial notes, “…cutting one lane from the diet of motorists will not only extend Kingston’s waterfront cycling trail but make this west-end section of Bath Road safer for all users. ‘There’s too much speeding, too many collisions, totally inhospitable to pedestrians and all but the most experienced cyclists.’” Read the editorial here.

Brockville Cycling Advisory Committee Endorses Official Plan Approach For Cycling Network

Click to enlarge

At the regular meeting of the Brockville cycling advisory committee of council on May 11, a cycling network plan for the city north of the 401 was endorsed. Building on previous work and recent discussions, the first motion passed was:

THAT the Brockville Cycling Advisory Committee recommend to the City that implementation planning work of Phase 2 commence to:
• Complete the already-approved upgrade of Laurier Blvd (between Bridlewood and Stewart) with bike lanes of suitable design.
• Upgrade Windsor Ave with bike lanes of similar design.
• Design the bike lanes for Laurier Ave and Windsor Ave as a pilot project that can be modified based on experience over a period of not less than 2 years.
• Implement a network of cross-linking neighbourhood greenways (route signs and reduced speed) to ensure access to spine routes.

and further, a second motion aimed at the follow-on segments:

THAT the Brockville Cycling Advisory Committee recommend to the
City that implementation design and costing be completed for
Phase 3 which is the following additional network routes and segments, in
order to take advantage of anticipated provincial funding programs:
• Shoulder paving to extend Laurier Blvd bike lanes from Bridlewood
eastward to California.
• Shoulder paving and bike lanes on California Ave from Parkedale to
Centennial.
• Extending Parkedale Ave sidewalk to trail conversion from Ormond St
east to California.

It’s expected that city design work will have a preliminary plan in the Fall, at which time a public information session will be held.

Those wishing to support moving Brockville toward being able to compete better as an attractive place to study, work, play, run a business or raise a family are invited to contact this author.

Our Unsustainable Automobile-Centric Economy Is Cracking

Stuck “in” traffic? You are traffic!

An insightful academic piece published by the World Economic Forum explores the failing economy of our automobile centric lifestyle. The average private automobile in Canada costs $9,000 per year to own and operate and sits idle 95% of the time, and in Brockville carries 1.1 people on average. Our infatuation with automobiles kills people at the same time as it is killing our planet, and the author contends we are on the cusp of massive changes.

Continue reading “Our Unsustainable Automobile-Centric Economy Is Cracking”

Bicycles’ Role In The Transportation Revolution

Here’s an interesting opinion piece from CNN’s Money editors exploring the role that bicycles are playing in the disruption of the transportation industry. In particular the author contends that fleets of shared e-bikes will disproportionately displace the use of automobiles in urban areas, noting that that already in many dense urban areas getting around by bike is faster than driving. Read more here.

Cycling Without Age – Smiles For Seniors

“Cycling Without Age” is an international program with 11 chapters in Canada, including Toronto, Ottawa and Winchester. The goal is to provide seniors or others with limited mobility the chance for casual outings at a leisurely pace. Launched in Copenhagen in 2012, there are now 8,000 volunteers worldwide helping others realize the simple pleasure of a leisurely outing. The bikes are a hybrid of a rickshaw and an e-bike. Imagine these in Brockville helping the mobility-challenged enjoy the Brock Trail and waterfront parks.

For the Cycling Without Age Facebook page, see here.
For an article on the Winnipeg launch, see here.
For the North American website, see here.
For the global website, see here.
For a TEDx Talk on the program, from 2014, see here.

Bike Friendly Communities More Age Friendly

An article published by the AARP under their “Livable Communities – Great Places for All Ages” banner enumerates ten ways that bicycle friendly communities are good for everyone. Yes, even those who may never get on a bike. While this may be yet another great summary of the ever-mounting evidence in support of the social, health and economic benefits, it goes a step further by linking the benefits to making a city more age friendly. Brockville, a city that to date has failed to be designated as bike friendly, walk friendly, age friendly or youth friendly could use some of this common sense. Read the article here.

Belleville Continues To Outpace Other Small Cities

Belleville Counc Egerton Boyce, photo by Jason Miller, Intelligencer 2017

As reported previously here, Belleville is a recent recipient of Share The Road’s “Bicycle Friendly Community” designation. This city of 49,000, divided like Brockville by the 401 and railroads, has a city council that understands and supports the economic business case for making the city more walk and bike friendly. The cycling facilities in their active transportation plan are being implemented at a quick pace. An article in the Intelligencer describes the current activity underway and the support that the plan is receiving. Also of note is the environmental study conducted for the city by their regional Health Unit. Among other things it is one of the few studies that has used the World Health Organization’s economic modelling to quantify and monetize the health benefits of small numbers of increased cyclists and activity in a small city.

Read the Intelligencer article here.
The Health Unit’s study can be found here (pdf).

Brockville Moves Closer To North-End Cycling Network

Click to enlarge

The Brockville cycling advisory committee, at its regular meeting in City Hall on Thursday May 10th at 5 p.m., will review the outcome of discussions for a holistic view of the cycling network that best fits Brockville’s neighbourhoods north of the 401. For background, please see the Brockville FAQs postings, including the report (pdf) unanimously approved by City Council in December 2015, and a revised work plan for the northern part of the cycling network later adopted by the committee.

As a gentle reminder, the cycling advisory committee is a formal Committee of Council that was established by unanimous vote of Council late in 2010. The committee’s terms of reference mandate that it advise Council and staff on ways to fulfill the commitments Council has made to residents through the Official Plan and other programs.

A brief history and context as well as a full discussion of the north-end cycling network is provided in the PDF document below, which is part of the agenda package for next week’s meeting. Anyone wishing to help support the committee in moving this forward is invited to attend the meeting, or contact them [this author will pass along messages].

BCAC CycleNet Discussion Paper, May 2017

4th Annual Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit

Save the date! The 4th annual Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summary will take place in Carleton Place on May 31st and June 1st. This annual event is a great place to learn about what’s happening in active transportation across the province and here in our region. Of special note this year is the number of significant provincial announcements including the provincial cycling network, the provincial cycle tourism strategy, a five-year commitment of provincial funding for cycling infrastructure and more.

Perhaps you’re a downtown business person, who wants to discover the economic potential of pedestrian and cycle friendly communities? Or a town planner, or staff person, wanting to learn best practice techniques for building a healthier town? Maybe you’re a resident that wants to be able to get around your community more easily and safely, on foot or on a bike. Come learn about simple concepts that make towns healthier, more vibrant, and stronger economically.

See here for more details including the agenda as it gets finalized.