Planning Complete Streets

Ontario is the provincial leader in moving to prioritize “complete streets” approaches to planning. Indeed, 84% of Ontarians now live in a municipality where complete streets are either provincially mandated or have been adopted as city policy. This reporter believes it won’t be long until all Ontario municipalities fall under the same requirements and road grants will be predicated upon the inclusion of complete streets design. Against this backdrop, there are many small cities who likely don’t have a clue what complete streets are all about. There’s lots of general information out there, along with many city guides (e.g. Toronto, Ottawa). The article highlighted here delves into some of the intricacies that go into approaching a complete streets design for a project. Read the article here.

Ontario Becomes First “Complete Streets” Province

Churchill Ave in Ottawa – an award winning complete streets project

The updated Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe was released on May 18, 2017 and comes into effect July 1, 2017. (View or download here.) Significant new policy statements embedded in the update require that all road projects for new and renovated facilities will follow complete streets guidelines, and that active transportation is prioritized over private automobiles. Continue reading “Ontario Becomes First “Complete Streets” Province”

Making AT Work In Small, Rural Communities

Temporary “pop-up” traffic calming demonstration – Haliburton Communities In Action Committee

“Small, rural communities have different realities than their urban counterparts, especially when it comes to active transportation. Most have limited financial resources, but extensive road infrastructure to maintain. Rural geography generally means large distances and low density. The prevailing attitudes regarding transportation may be quite focused on cars. Finally, most evidence on AT is urban based, leaving a gap in knowledge.”

Continue reading “Making AT Work In Small, Rural Communities”

Toronto’s New Complete Streets Guide

As described in this release from the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, the City of Toronto adopted a complete streets policy in 2014 and has now released it’s design guidelines document to support the program.

“The City of Toronto joins a number of other Canadian cities in publishing Complete Street Guidelines. Ajax, Halifax, Calgary, Ottawa, London, Edmonton, Waterloo, and York are some of the cities that are taking strides towards building more inclusive, multipurpose, and safe streets. ”

The document is available for download on the City of Toronto’s website here.

Ottawa’s Evolving Streetscapes

Churchill Ave in Ottawa – an award winning complete streets project

In this recent installment of a series of articles examining the evolving nature of Ottawa, Don Butler provides a thoughtful look at the evolving practice of upgrading streetscapes using complete streets approaches to better serve people and goods moving through neighbourhoods.  Many in the rearguard of normative change find the evolution troubling, yet the results speak for themselves. Read more here.

Greenways Link Neighbourhoods

You’ll soon hear discussion of “Neighbourhood Greenways” in Brockville. In design and function, they fit between off-road trails and complete streets, aimed at providing calm routes through low-traffic neighbourhoods, linking them to each other as well as to busier and more direct thoroughfares (spine/core routes) that need complete streets or protected bikeway treatment.  Continue reading “Greenways Link Neighbourhoods”

Turning The Tide Of Road Carnage

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The USA is on track this year to kill 38,000 people in auto collisions, rapidly overtaking the 35,000 deaths by gun. An analysis of US vs European factors, coupled with emerging trends in selected US cities, shows how a different design approach pays dividends by reducing drivers’ ability to cause harm. Cities that implement Vision Zero – assuming people will make mistakes and designing facilities that reduce the impact of those mistakes – coupled with complete streets, and protected facilities for those walking and cycling, are yielding big reductions in fatalities.  Read more here.

Two Words For Better Cities: Pedestrians First!

Photo courtesy Brockville Tourism (by David Mackie)
Photo courtesy Brockville Tourism (by David Mackie)

Here’s a thorough exploration of making cities more livable, from the Knight Foundation, starting from the simple principle of “pedestrians first”.  The article explores several pillars: walkability, bikeability, public spaces and public transit – all key to building more vibrant communities. Read more here.

And here’s a FastCo article on the same report.

Vision Zero Perspective On Reducing Road Carnage

vision-zeroIn a recent consultation in Toronto, Sweden’s manager of that country’s successful Vision Zero program highlighted the change in paradigm needed to improve road safety. A paradigm that accepts that people make mistakes, and that designs roads better to reduce the opportunity for and impact of those mistakes.

“You have to realize that you have young people, you have old people, you have all kinds of people. With a philosophy like Vision Zero, you take that for granted. Instead of starting to change them, you have to start to accommodate for them and design a system for humans.” 

Read more here.

[To date, Vision Zero has been endorsed in Edmonton and Vancouver, with Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa circling closer and closer to adoption.]

Fifty Shades Of Walkability Benefits

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Photo: Flickr user Loren Kerns

This is a great summary piece that lists fifty different reasons why cities of all sizes need to pay more attention to design that puts people, community and walkability, and moving people in a way that creates interaction, ahead of moving cars. The list covers the gamut from physical and population physical and mental health, to social community, to economic factors. Read more here.

Social And Economic Benefits Of Walkability

neighborhood-walkability-shopsThis article from the Sierra Club highlights the social and economic benefits found in neighbourhoods with higher walk scores.  “People who could hoof it reported more trust and involvement, and are happier and healthier than those in less walkable neighborhoods.”  As well, “A 2009 study by CEOs for Cities found that homes with an above-average Walk Score sold for up to $34,000 more than their no-sidewalk-in-sight counterparts.”  That of course raises the issue of social equity. Should people have to pay more to live in a walkable neighbourhood, or should cities be designed to be put community first?
Read more (with links to research) here.

Complete Streets Approaches For Rural Areas

shouldersA new backgrounder from Complete Streets for Canada examines the need to apply complete streets approaches to rural areas. This adds to the impetus for, among other things, a “paved shoulders” policy which has an easy business case, yet whose benefits go much further than dollars. “With higher road mortality rates and poorer health outcomes than their urban counterparts, rural areas in particular can benefit from safer roadways that encourage walking, cycling and other forms of active transportation.  Transportation equity is also critical, as those living without a vehicle in rural areas can face serious challenges of mobility in the absence of public transportation and safe walking and cycling routes.  On a larger scale, a Complete Streets approach can have economic benefits, by enlivening a rural main street or historic downtown. ” Read more here.

Smart Discussions About Road Safety For All

visionzeroThis article from Toronto applies to all communities.  The conversations around road safety – for all road users in the community, from 8 to 80, have a number of common elements. These are worth knowing and remembering, and quizzing your municipal Council about.  Ask them when we can adopt a Vision Zero program, for instance.  If they don’t know what any of these elements are, they’re not up to date with cities more progressive and attractive. Read more here.

Why Suburbia Is Literally Depressing

Suburgatory - from GoogleEarth
Suburgatory – from GoogleEarth

Here’s a fascinating essay on why people’s souls are dulled by typical suburban design. It also provides context to understand better why “complete street” treatment of urban corridors, with better sidewalks, bicycle facilities,  pedestrian crossings, crossing refuges and intersection bulb-outs, can make streets like Laurier Blvd more livable, inviting more walking and cycling, taming traffic, restoring their family-friendly face and social ambiance, and raising property values.  Read more here.

Streetside Spots Create Urban Oases In Ottawa

Photo by Joanne Chianello, CBC
Photo by Joanne Chianello, CBC

Even while Ottawa’s formal “complete streets” policy takes root and projects quickly ramp up, small projects with a tactical urbanism flair are sweeping neighbourhoods and BIA’s.  In the Quartier Vanier BIA, one of Ottawa’s approved “streetside spots” features a parking spot turned into a patio.  This is one of eleven for this year, out of twenty five the city was prepared to approve.

Quartier Vanier BIA’s steetside spot on Beechwood Avenue features a wooden patio arrangement designed by Carleton University architecture students, and has proven to be an instance hit as a neighbourhood social spot.  Read more here.

Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan Includes Walking And Cycling

Bicycle_Friendly_Community_Sign_02_1Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, released this morning, includes strong legislative and financial support for enhancing the walk and bike friendliness of communities across the province. Road projects must include these provisions. Along with the new mandate for communities in The Greenbelt that road projects be “complete street” based, we are rapidly moving into an era that will strongly favour communities having a current active transportation plan and a complete streets policy.  Continue reading “Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan Includes Walking And Cycling”

News: Ottawa PXO Plan Set To Launch

Three of four different styles of PXO
Three of four different styles of PXO

Big news from Ottawa where they’re about to start installing up to 60 pedestrian crossovers (PXOs) a year for the next three years.  Along with Ottawa’s complete streets policy and cycling plan rollout, this is clear indication of that city’s commitment to prioritizing people first.  Here in Brockville, we could start with public workshops toward generating a current comprehensive transportation plan.
Read more about Ottawa’s PXO plan here.