As Doctors for Safe Cycling point out in this recent article in the Toronto Star, “Cycling is very effective in promoting good physical and mental health, and it’s infrastructure like protected lanes that makes widespread bike use possible.”
StatsCan reports that fully 41% of Canadians over the age of 12 are at least occasional cyclists now, and cites the evidence that, “The health benefits of physical activity, including cycling, are widely recognized. In an era when nearly a third of children and youth and just under two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, cycling for leisure or transport is a valuable form of exercise. Cycling is also good for the environment ― commuting by bicycle helps to alleviate road congestion and noise pollution and reduces emissions.”
It’s time for Brockville to join the 21st century and work to become bicycle friendly. There will always be naysayers and NIMBYs who fight to keep streets unsafe, children at risk and property values depressed, but it’s time to move ahead and create a better Brockville.
The push is on for a national active transportation strategy. Currently, 21 million Canadians, or about 58%, live in a region where transportation and development projects and practices conform to policies guided by active transportation plans, cycling plans, walk/bike/age/youth-friendly plans, Vision Zero initiatives, or complete streets plans. In fact, government funding programs are starting to become contingent on those plans being in place and current.
Now is the time to bring our country under a consistent set of practices and guidelines, at the same time enfolding and bringing into the current century those municipalities who to date have ignored the mounting evidence on benefits, including the clear economic necessity of stepping up to compete on a level playing field. Follow the links for more information.
CAPE, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, has provided an extensive article on their website outlining their endorsement of a national cycling strategy for the diverse and far-reaching benefits that a more bicycle friendly Canada would provide for all. Read more here.
“A National Cycling Strategy is the holy grail of public health; the public policy the serves many public health goals with one investment. It is an investment that will pay for itself many times over in health care savings alone.”
Many municipalities and a few provinces across Canada have made solid gains towards making cycling on public roads is a safe and convenient choice for getting around. Progress is also being made towards a national cycling strategy that would provide both opportunities and consistency in guidelines and funding. Canada Bikes is the national nonprofit organization leading this charge. Working with stakeholder organizations across the country, they have developed a primer called Towards a Bike-Friendly Canada: A National Cycling Strategy Overview (pdf). That and more is on the Canada Bikes website.
“The document is inspired by long-established frameworks already in place in the most advanced and successful bike-friendly countries in the world. We hope you find it helpful in describing what a national cycling strategy could do for Canada and for all of us.”
The attached letter to the Ontario ministers of transportation and finance provides input to the pre-budget consultations. It’s jointly penned by the leaders of the Share The Road Coalition, Ontario Waterfront Regeneration Trust, Greenbelt Foundation and Ontario By Bike, and provides rationale and recommendations for the investment stream committed in #CYCLEON, Ontario’s cycling strategy, as well as the province’s climate change action plan.
Many questions and objections to safer roads for all modes of transport are raised frequently in Brockville and in every city moving to create a healthier place that competes to attract and retain families, and businesses that create jobs.
What’s often not well understood is that the paradigm for transportation infrastructure and services has changed irrevocably over the last decade. Municipal planning and transportation engineering was once focused on ensuring that people in private automobiles could get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Over several decades, following that paradigm contributed to unsustainable cityscapes that contribute to social exclusion and inequity, pollution, obesity-related population health decline, constrained property values and other challenges.
Over the last decade, however, that paradigm has changed. Planning and transportation is now focused on providing sustainable and healthy options for people to move about cities. Municipalities are moving quickly to prioritize “all ages, all abilities” accessibility – helping people move around their cities, for purpose or for pleasure. This paradigm shift was described by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in this 2013 paper (pdf) for the Journal of the International Transportation Engineers.
The new paradigm has been embraced by governments at all levels across North America and Europe, as witnessed by the evidence presented in abundance in this site’s articles. Simply put, the priority now is on allowing people to travel safely, whether choosing to walk, cycle, skateboard, use transit, drive or some combination of any of those modes.
In Ontario, there are 12 ministries of the provincial government and dozens of stakeholder groups collaborating to accelerate this paradigm shift, with changes in the Provincial Policy Statement, changes in the Highway Traffic Act, updated highway design guidelines and requirements, and municipal funding. Almost all professional organizations understand the need for this shift and are supporting it.
The paradigm that led us once to say that someone can find a nice alternate route is no longer accepted. The question, for example, is not “why Laurier?”, but rather “why aren’t we moving quickly to make every street safe for all ages and all abilities?” The paradigm that led us once to say that, “the street is too dangerous” now leads us to say, “well, let’s make the street safe.”
The public workshops leading up to the creation of Brockville’s 2009 Official Plan recorded comments from many asking for improved walking and cycling support. The Official Plan commits the city to implement a cycling network. Council’s commitment was reinforced last September when it endorsed and adopted the Healthy Community Vision, including active transportation in support of, “All community members have the opportunity to make the choices that enable them to live a healthy life, regardless of income, education, or ability.”
This paradigm shift is not comfortable for everyone. There are some societal changes that some find difficult to accept, for any number of reasons. As witnessed in just about every city that evolves, those opposed to change mount campaigns based on fear, uncertainty and doubt. Yet cities do evolve and in almost every case, the benefits of safer roads for all conform and contribute to the growing evidence base. As with Brockville’s upgrades to Cty Rd 2 and King St W pictured above, the world does not end. We cannot shy away from moving ahead to create a healthier city.
Progress steadily mounts on Action Plan 1.0 of the provincial
cycling strategy #CYCLEON and MTO, a myriad of other provincial ministries and a long list of NGO stakeholders are collaborating on the formulation of Action Plan 2.0, the next tranche of initiatives. Share The Road is collecting input from interested parties to inform their participation in the discussions. To add your voice, please see the online survey here.
For MTO’s call for general input, see the previous post here.
The message below was sent by MTO to a list of stakeholders interested in #CYCLEON, the Ontario Cycling Strategy, the Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), and the role that cycling plays in that plan.
"Ontario's Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), released on June 8, 2016, committed to creating a cleaner transportation sector in Ontario, in part by promoting cycling.
"The Ministry of Transportation is ready to do its part to support the CCAP by implementing a number of initiatives that support reductions to transportation emissions. These initiatives will be funded by proceeds from the province’s cap and trade program.
"Through a discussion paper posted to the Environmental Registry, we are seeking your input on a proposed plan to implement actions identified in the CCAP to improve commuter cycling networks.
"We encourage you to review the discussion paper, accessible through the Environmental Registry or the Ministry’s Cycling Strategy web page and provide your comments by November 30, 2016. We look forward to hearing from you."
It’s important in ongoing efforts to create a more vibrant Brockville that we be conversant with the broader actions, and progress, at the provincial level. Changes in government funding, Provincial Policy Statement, and other related plans and programs set the context for municipal planning and expectations, as well as raise the bar as our City competes with others that are making good progress in these areas.
Of note, the Ontario Municipal Cycling Infrastructure Program (OMCIP) is proposed to be continued under the CCAP, to the tune of $150 to $225 million over several years. If we are to take advantage of that, we will need shovel ready projects under the umbrella of a current, committed and comprehensive transportation plan, which the City neither has nor plans to create.
Of particular note, MTO’s discussion paper (pdf) provides a concise summary of the current role of cycling in Ontario, reinforces the government’s commitment and the larger societal trends underway, and underscores how far behind Brockville is.
While the City may or may not choose to respond to the Environmental Registry posting, we are each invited to respond as individuals. Help build the momentum needed to generate Council’s will to fulfill the promises in the Official Plan and bring the City into the 21st century.
Torontonian Warren Huska cycles 18km each way to work and had his share of close calls from irresponsible drivers. In a story now gone viral, he lit upon the idea of using a pool noodle to demarcate his road space, reminding others of his presence and of Ontario’s safe passing law. Similar devices and flags have been used for years, yet Warren’s story seems to have captured public attention, highlighting the need for everyone to pay attention to road safety. Read more here.
Original Toronto Star article here.
Going well beyond the quick comebacks for mindless rants provided in a recent post, the knowledgeable folks at the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain have compiled a comprehensive list of the often-heard objections to making public streets safer for the cycling public. These are not quick comebacks; rather, they’re well-researched, evidence-based responses to questions and objections ranging from, “cyclists don’t pay for the roads” to “if everyone just shared the road, there wouldn’t be a problem”. They are compiled from a UK perspective, yet they hold for N.A. as well, and many of the cited references are global. Read more here.
On the lighter side, they also provide some printable “cycling fallacy bingo!” cards you can print and take to your next public meeting to pass the time while the anti-laners drone on.
Here’s a blogger commenting on Senator Eaton’s uninformed rants on bikes in Toronto. He provides some capsule comebacks for the more mindless rants that, like most resistance to positive change with broad public support, are rooted in ignorance and/or fear. Read more.
Also see this article in the Toronto Star on the senator’s rants. Yet another good reason for an elected senate?
An interesting article was recently published in the National Post by a journalist who’s a self-proclaimed “fringe maniac” cyclist. Several people have asked me about it – I’ve read it through several times, put it in context with the body of research and case studies from places large and small, and enjoyed a few good conversations about it. Continue reading “Fringe Maniac Piece Confuses The Conversation”
This article provides some great strategies or approaches that are valuable for advocates of positive change, especially when dealing with the negativism of the change antibodies who lurk ready to pounce on every step forward. Read Forbes articles here.
The notion of licensing bikes has surfaced once again, this time in Toronto. Some cities, like Toronto and Winnipeg, used to do this and abandoned the practice due to high costs and lack of tangible benefits. Still, every year the notion surfaces in a few cities, usually from back-seat politicians eager to make a mark yet not eager to do any homework first. As a preemptive play to dissuade any local thinking in this direction, here’s a helpful summary of why this idea is or should be a non-starter, from Cycle Toronto. Read more here.
While British in origin, this compendium of resources is a helpful guide for those seeking to find just the right “hooks” for their local cycling advocacy efforts. The references are broad and linked, and provide a useful way to launch more local or regional searches for information more targeted at local needs. Health, traffic congestion, environment, social equity, tourism, property values, and economic opportunity development are all potential hooks, and have all been researched, case studied and monetized across Europe and North America. Read more here. And see other Active Brockville posts for further reference.
Here’s a cool application from London UK. 500 people in London now have buttons on their bikes they can press when encountering an unsafe situation while cycling. Pressing results in the location being mapped, and an email sent to the Mayor! Talk about street-level feedback! Read more here.
“Imagine yourself walking safely and conveniently from your home to work, shopping and entertainment. En route to these destinations on any given day you may meet neighbours walking their children to school, stop for a coffee at your favourite shop and visit with the owner, rest on a bench overlooking a garden with flowers blooming, and enjoy the public art along the way. You not only arrive relaxed, you take pleasure in the journey.”
Since the Walk Friendly Community program launch in 2013, ten Ontario communities, small to large, have received their Walk Friendly accreditation following an evaluation process similar to that for Bike Friendly Community. There are currently no efforts underway in Brockville to achieve this recognition.
The embedded pdf file provides a look at the program and highlights for each of the designated communities.
A wonderful opinion piece in the Winnipeg Free Press offers some thoughts on that city’s progress in introducing protected bike lanes. The writer captures the backlash from the inevitable anti-laners quite well:
“Change is often slow in Winnipeg, but it is occurring. Wholesale opposition to making Winnipeg streets safer for all users will sound more shrill and intellectually hollow over time, and will soon be clung to by a small number of citizens who are staunchly anti-cycling as a matter of quixotic principle.” Read article here.
Here’s an opinion piece from Hamilton that provides some personal reflection on what the research has been reporting over and over – that when cycling infrastructure provides safe passage around a city, people get out and start biking. This is especially true for women – the “indicator species” for measuring a cycling network’s success. The small number of disproportionately vocal anti-laners on Laurier Blvd need to take note. This blog and FB page is followed by twice as many women as men, supporting the evidence of latent demand for safer cycling infrastructure. Read more.
Last week the city’s ongoing move into the 21st century with active transportation planning garnered two articles in the Recorder Times and one opinion piece that somewhat incorrectly characterized an update to Council’s Finance, Admin, Ops Committee. We all understand that the Recorder’s customers are advertisers, our eyeballs are the product, and stirring minority displeasure into major controversy is trade practice.
So that you can form your own opinion, with kind permission from Cogeco TV Brockville, here is a link to the particular recorded segment of the committee proceedings. BCAC at FAO, May 17, 2016 (streaming MP4 video file). (20 minutes total)