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.”
“residential streets are where families go for walks, where neighbours greet and chat with each other, and where kids ride their bikes to school and play games. If these are indeed legitimate uses for streets, its time that we recognize this, by humanizing the speed of vehicle movement along these roadways.”
A dozen weeks ago Brockville City Council voted to turn a long history of unfulfilled promises into a commitment to develop an active transportation plan. That initiated a contract with MTO to receive $183,000 of funding for cycling projects on the condition that the city develop and approve an active transportation plan. The city also entered into a $60,000 contract with an engineering consulting firm to lead the development of that plan, with $48,000 of the cost coming from the provincial grant and $12,000 of city capital earmarked for the cycling advisory committee’s projects.
There were many good reasons for undertaking this approach, all discussed at that council meeting. One of the factors was the opportunity to tap a subsequent three years of provincial cycling funding, an opportunity killed by the incoming provincial government. At a recent meeting of the Finance, Administration & Operations standing committee, committee members overrode Council’s decision by asking that a hold be put on the process of developing the active transportation plan.
As a reminder to council candidates for the upcoming municipal election, there are many good reasons for developing and implementing an active transportation plan. While the benefits of becoming more bike and walk friendly are widely understood, accepted and in evidence everywhere, the benefits of going through the process of developing the plan are often overlooked. With that in mind, here’s a brief summary of “A Dozen Good Reasons For Developing An Active Transportation Plan”.
A new survey by EKOS reveals that Torontonians of all ages, urban and suburban, support protected bike lanes. Toronto now mirrors other cities large and small who are further along the active transportation journey. Initial cycling infrastructure projects often meet strident resistance from those whose worldview is threatened, as they did in Toronto. However, when the infrastructure is well designed and implemented, widespread public support invariably climbs quickly (and the world does not go apocalyptic). This survey measures how fast that has happened.
When EKOS asked about protected bike lanes, which separate cyclists from cars using curbs, posts or planters, the results were emphatic — 82 per cent in favour. No matter where they live, and irrespective of age or income, most residents support bike lane construction. The findings are consistent with a 2017 Angus Reid survey that found 80 per cent of Torontonians support a “safe network of bicycle lanes.”
The new poll puts clichés to rest. This is not just a young person’s issue; EKOS found bike lanes enjoy the backing of 79 per cent of those 55 years and older. It’s not an issue only for people with modest means; 85 per cent of residents with annual income of $120,000 or more endorse the lanes. Perhaps most significant, 75 per cent of those whose main mode of transport is the automobile support bike lanes.
There is no doubt at all that when Brockville drags itself past the car-centric paradigm into the current age of active transportation enlightenment, similar perspectives will prevail.
“More than 80 per cent of Toronto residents support building protected bike lanes, a new poll finds. The support is highest among those living in the core, with nearly nine in 10 people in the former pre-amalgamation city of Toronto wanting the lanes. But the trend was also visible in the suburbs, including Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York, with more than 70 per cent of respondents expressing support in every region of the city, according to the survey results provided exclusively to CBC Toronto.”
“The random survey of 800 Toronto residents, conducted by Ekos Research Associates earlier this month, also found more than 75 per cent of people who primarily drive to get around the city are also supporters of protected bike lanes”
The survey results are incredibly positive and show even stronger support than surveys done over the last couple of years.
It’s finally sinking in. Despite labels like “pedestrians”, “cyclists”, and “drivers”, more understand that we’re all just people – friends, neighbours, family, all ages and all abilities – trying to move around safely regardless of choice of mode of transportation at any given time.
So let’s listen up and learn, and help each other get home safely.
With Sudbury adopting a “complete streets” policy, residents join the 85% of Ontarians who live in a municipality where complete streets are either provincially mandated or have been adopted by local Council. As in other cities with a complete streets approach, public roads are designed and reconfigured to safely serve all members of the public – all ages, all abilities, all modes of transportation, for purpose or for pleasure.
Brockville is not a complete streets community – in fact it’s instructive to ask a candidate for Council if they know what a complete street is.
From the June edition of the Ontario By Bike newsletter:
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail and signature cycling route in Ontario continues to grow and is now over 2,100km long. Chances are you are already familiar with and have ridden parts of this signed route that touches 140 communities and skirts 3 Great Lakes.
To better help you navigate the trail, a new website has recently been launched with a number of useful features that can help you plan a day trip, overnight tour or end-to-end adventure.
Highly detailed and free to download maps
Interactive online trail map
Suggested ride itineraries
Make use of these features and start planning your ride today on the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. www.WaterfrontTrail.org
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.
Just as homeowners in residential areas benefit from quieter, family-friendlier streets and improved property values when streets are upgraded with bike lanes, the evidence is clear in case studies from across the continent that when streets through business districts are upgraded with bike lanes, then retail benefits big time, even though parking patterns may change.
“When faced with the prospect of losing some on-street parking outside a local business, it completely makes sense for business owners to be concerned about the impact on their customer base. But the on-the-ground evidence as well as nationwide data paints a very different picture. Rest assured that, if bike lanes are coming to your street and some parking spaces are disappearing in the process, local businesses shouldn’t see losses in profit. In fact, they’re likely to see gains.”
Think how downtown Brockville could benefit from wider sidewalks, bike lanes, more people traffic and more foot traffic through stores.
If you will be walking, cycling, or driving on Québec roads, be aware that a number of updates have recently been enacted in the Highway Safety Code. The changes to road use regulations and accompanying fines and demerit points are fairly extensive. This article in the Montréal Gazette summarizes the changes, while all the detail can be found on the provincial website.
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.
Turning a long history of commitments into action, Brockville Council voted 5-3 to develop a long-awaited active transportation plan for the city. While most of the media attention has been focused on the much-loved Brock Trail, meaningful long term impact will largely stem from the process to develop and adopt the cycling components of the plan.
This vote is one step today, for the Brockville we want tomorrow.
The long-overdue development of an active transportation plan for Brockville, first committed a decade ago in the Official Plan, finally gets underway. At this evening’s Finance Admin and Operations committee meeting (City Hall, 4:30 PM), an operations staff report outlining the results of the bid process will be presented and the committee will be asked to approve moving ahead with the selected bidder. That approval will then move forward in the FAO consent agenda to full Council on Tuesday, May 22.
Come out and show the committee and Council that you support moving ahead to develop, approve and then adopt an active transportation plan for the City. It’s also a great opportunity, with a municipal election coming in November, to listen to councilors comments and see who are supportive of Brockville’s residents gaining the health, social, environmental, and economic benefits of becoming a healthier, more active place to live, work, grow, and play.
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.
“The City of Vancouver has a vision to make cycling safe, convenient, comfortable and fun for all ages and abilities (AAA), including families with children, seniors, and new riders. An inviting and connected network of low stress “AAA” routes will provide a wide spectrum of the population
the option to cycle for most short trips.”
That’s the lead-in to Vancouver’s transportation design guidelines for cycling routes geared to those of all ages and all abilities. The city has a list of 10 requirements to be met in order for a route to be deemed “all ages, all abilities”. A PDF document describing those guidelines can be downloaded here. These guidelines provide a more holistic approach and go well beyond the basic network design guidelines adopted by Brockville City Council.
Vancouver’s guidelines will provide a good benchmark as Brockville’s Active Transportation Plan is developed this year.
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.
At the 10th Annual Ontario Bike Summit recently held in Toronto, the Share the Road Cycling Coalition recognized a number of individuals with a “Wheels of Change Award” for their outstanding contribution in helping to build safer, healthier communities. Those receiving the awards represent a diverse array of advocates, professional backgrounds, and roles that span social enterprises, CAA, consultancies, volunteer groups, municipal staff, health units, and more. Read more about these individuals and their contributions here.