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.
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.
This article provides a brief survey of the top cycling neighbourhoods in Canada, based on four criteria: cycling mode share or the percent of people commuting by cycling; proximity to useful things – does the cycling network link origins and destinations that matter; cycling network quality – it’s connectedness, contiguity and safety; and finally, backup transportation – for those times when cycling just won’t work, what are the alternative means of transportation.
Of interest, the entry point to this list, the 15th ranked neighbourhood is Kitsilano with a cycle commuting mode share of 13.1%. The top ranked neighbourhood is Strathcona, also in Vancouver, with a massive 18.3% cycle commuting mode share.
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.
At the 10th Annual Ontario Bike Summit held last weekend Toronto, the Town of Caledon and the Town of Cobourg were awarded the Bicycle Friendly Community designation at the bronze level. This brings to 42 the number of Bicycle Friendly Community designated municipalities in the province. Fully 70% of Ontarians now live in a bike friendly community.
The City of Waterloo achieved gold status, becoming the first mid-size city in Ontario to do so and joining Toronto and Ottawa at that gold level.
There are now 3 gold, 8 silver, and 31 bronze designated Bicycle Friendly Communities in Ontario, evidence of the momentum underway to create a truly bicycle friendly province. These are the municipalities realizing the economic benefits of creating healthier, more desirable places to live, work, grow, and play.
Planning is well underway to develop a province-wide cycling network to connect communities and destinations across Ontario. With input from stakeholders, communities, and the public, an initial network of primary cycling routes across the province has been identified.
Learn more about this project here.
It’s Spring, and with Spring comes the annual round of Bike Summits to rejuvenate and re-stoke our interest in working for public roads that better serve the needs of the general public.
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.
Of note, the Plan will cover cycling and walking as well as other forms of active transportation, will take into consideration work already done for the Official Plan, and since then by the Brock Trail and cycling advisory committees. The plan will include consideration for things like pedestrian crosswalks and crossovers, staged implementation, completion of the Brock Trail, and more.
Public engagement opportunities and development of the plan will include open public workshops at the design stage as well as an opportunity to review the proposed plans. It’s expected that the workshops will be open and welcoming to all members of the public, to work together to identify and prioritize opportunities to help build a community that better supports choices for healthy activity, both for purpose and for pleasure.
Action Plan 2.0 of the Ontario Cycling Strategy #CYCLEON has been published for public input on the Environmental Registry website as well as MTO’s website. The plan continues and strengthens program elements begun in Action Plan 1.0 (pdf), with continued emphasis on Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation/Planning.
The proposed Action Plan 2.0 is open for public comment until March 7.
See here for the Environmental Registry page.
See here for the Action Plan 2.0 proposal (pdf) on MTO’s website.
Flat terrain and warm winters are well down the list of factors that contribute to how a community successfully encourages more people to ride more often, both for purpose and pleasure. Read more here.
Amidst the myriad benefits from active transportation projects, the job creation benefit to the local economy is often overlooked. Two major grants for Brockville, both arising from the cycling advisory committee, illustrate this.
In 2016, Brockville was awarded $325,000 in the Ontario Municipal Cycling Infrastructure Program. Those funds, matched by an equal amount from the City, other grants, donations and in-kind, are being used to complete the Laurier-Centennial and “401 corridor” extensions of the Brock Trail.
The OMCCP grant is the first in a committed four-year stream. The amount of $183,362 for 2018 can be used to cover 2/3 of qualified projects, the first of which will be the development of an active transportation plan for Brockville.
Of economic note, apart from the other benefits that the project deliverables provide to the community, the two grants themselves, when the required matching from other sources is included, total $925,000. That is money all spent into our local economy, creating the equivalent of approximately 18.5 fulltime job-years. Park that on Laurier!
Ontario’s momentum toward becoming a more bicycle-friendly province took a big step forward today with the announcement of funding details in the first year’s tranche of the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program (OMCCP). Brockville’s grant for 2018 will be $183,362.
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.
The City of Vernon, BC, population 40,000, easily exceeds Brockville in terms of the pickup truck centric lifestyle core to a large cohort of residents. Yet despite that, Vernon’s city council and staff understand the economic development and other benefits as they join the competition to “create more livable and desirable communities”. Like Brockville, they’re a long way from being walk and bike friendly; however, they are on the path. Read more 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.
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!
The Ottawa Valley region is one among many in Ontario tapping into the successful and growing cycle tourism sector. Their latest investment is route maps: “The cycling map can be used as a tool to draw cyclists from outside of the region to the area, which will support tourism in the area.”
Ask your favourite local/regional councilor why we’re not actively chasing this proven opportunity.
“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.