In Brockville we have committed volunteer groups and committees of council, and we have an activity-hungry populace. Yet as long as we have a city council with a passive-aggressive stance on becoming walk-friendly and bike-friendly (and age-friendly and youth-friendly), we will make little progress.
“If we want healthier communities, we must make it easier for individuals to feel good about physical activity in the context of their own lives. We are more likely to walk to services in our community if we have food security and appropriate shoes. We are more likely to attempt a new activity if we have the literacy and information centre to understand it better. We are more likely bike to work if we feel safe and comfortable in accessing our route. We are more likely to comply with exercises when values and promotions of our community support this.“
“The evidence shows us behaviour stems from the social, the economic and the political, much more so than from the personal.”
Walking is a slow and porous experience. The words we use to describe it—meandering, sauntering, strolling—have their own leisurely and gentle cadence and suggest a sort of unhurried enjoyment. But to walk is also to be vulnerable: it forces us into physical interaction with surrounding streets, homes, and people. This can delay us, annoy us, even put us in danger. But it connects us to community in a way that cars never can.
Read the essay here.
The growing popularity of e-bikes is no surprise, given their ability to provide an easy alternative to the car for short trips and to help those wanting to get back on a bike but perhaps not having ridden since they were kids. (Read more here.)
In Ontario however, one of our stumbling blocks has been the omnibus classification of “e-bike” that encompasses both heavier scooter/moped styles as well as the more bicycle-like pedelec style. The common classification for two distinct styles is causing confusion as municipalities try to figure out which vehicles are appropriate to use on various facilities. Clarification is coming – MTO has committed to review and update the classifications as part of Action Plan 2.0 of the Ontario Cycling Strategy. For more information, see Share the Road’s article here.
The 5th Annual Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit, held in Brockville on May 10th & 11th, hosted over 100 participants from a variety of municipalities and organizations across Eastern Ontario. Presentation material from the Summit is posted online here.
The above picture can be clicked to expand full-size, and downloaded for reference. It shows the projects currently underway on the Brock Trail. Heavy equipment and other activity on the under-construction segments may limit passage. The two segments in particular where this is true include:
Perth to Stewart – expected to be completed by early June, the work here includes removal of a utility pole and its support cables near the Perth Street end; additional fill, drainage and grading of the central part of the segment and the short connector to Front St; paving; and a pedestrian crossover on Perth St.
Laurier to Centennial – construction is likely to continue into early summer on this segment. Work includes:
- bridge abutments, bridge installation, and connector trail to Aspen Dr
- paving of the trail from end to end
- a pedestrian crossover on Centennial road to the parking lot at the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area canoe launch
- at the Laurier Blvd end, a paved and curb-separated trail connection on the road shoulder to the intersection with Bridlewood; a pedestrian crosswalk across Bridlewood; a pedestrian crossover across Laurier Blvd;
- a new separated trail segment from the south side of Laurier at the crossover to the Fieldhouse and then across the existing bridge to connect with the existing Brock Trail segment.
When the Laurier to Centennial segment is completed, the Brock Trail will provide an off-road active transportation corridor from the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area all the way to downtown and waterfront, where it connects with the 3,000+ km Great Lakes Waterfront Trail network spanning Ontario.
Ontario already leads Canada in adoption of complete streets policies. Fully 84% of Ontarians live in a municipality where complete streets are either provincially mandated or have been adopted by local council. Sarnia is about to move up to that level of competing for families, talent and new business when their council moves to adopt a complete streets policy this month. As in other cities, the complete streets policy will ensure that public roads safely serve all members of the public – all ages, all abilities, all modes of transportation, for purpose and for pleasure.
For those who like to follow what’s happening in the leading, larger cities for practices that can be applied in places that are smaller and/or lagging way behind, there’s always lots to learn from Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montréal. Vancouver’s journey has perhaps been the most successful across a broad set of measures. Fully 50% of trips in the City of Vancouver are made by bike, on foot, or by transit. A few notable highlights are captured in the images and you can read more here.
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 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.
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.
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.
Here’s a quick guide with links to pages where you can learn more:
– The 10th Annual Ontario Bike Summit will be held in Toronto April 16-18.
– The National Bike Summit will be held in Ottawa May 28-29.
– The 5th Annual Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit will be held this year right here in Brockville, at the Memorial Centre, May 10-11.
A pedestrian crossover (PXO) is a signed and sometimes signal-lighted crossing of a road at a location that does not have a traffic light or stop sign to regulate through traffic flow. (MTO reference)
For those driving or cycling: When you see a pedestrian with intent to cross, which may be indicated by flashing lights, come to a complete stop. Remain stopped while people are in the PXO. You may proceed when the person walking has left the road.
For those walking: Press the beg button to activate the lights. Stand facing the crossing, optionally with arm pointing to cross the road. Wait for vehicular traffic to stop, then cross the road.
For those cycling along the trail: Get off your bike. See above “for those walking”. Riding across a crossover or crosswalk is illegal.
More PXO’s have been approved by Council and will be installed along the Trail at crossings on Henry St, St Paul St, Cedar St, Laurier Blvd at Bridlewood, Centennial Rd, and Perth St, with more to come in following years.
The two existing crossovers and those listed above are part of projects initiated and driven by the Brock Trail committee and cycling advisory committee working together. In 2018, the City will be undertaking an Active Transportation Plan which will then be approved and adopted by Council. The public workshops that will be part of the development of the plan will be the opportunity to come out and help identify the many other locations across the city where crosswalks and crossovers are needed.
Then check out the Triangle Ski Club at their open house on Sunday December 10th. The Club offers a warm clubhouse and well-maintained trails from beginner to challenging for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and winter fatbiking.
For directions and details, see the website here.
The municipal leaders in this video understand the health and social benefits of parks and trails, as well as their direct contribution to economic development – attracting and retaining businesses, talent and families.
Do your councilors understand? Ask them!
City parks are increasingly being viewed as critical community infrastructure – the lungs of the community. Shared-use trails running through and connecting them are the circulatory system. Together, they provide life – the social, health and transportation means to a more vital city.
Do your councilors understand this? Ask them! The municipal leaders in this video certainly do!
“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.
From the Alberta Centre for Active Living comes an updated summary of the diverse and many benefits of active transportation. It’s current, evidence based and complete with references to source case studies and research. Read and/or download below.