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”.
“Parents who fear that kids in organized sport spend less time on just-for-fun activities can take heart in a new study by researchers at McMaster University and the University of Toronto.
“Not only did the study find those kids embraced free play, it found they generally engaged in more physical activity on their own than those who were not in organized sport.
“Lead author John Cairney, a professor at U of T’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, says the findings debunk commonly held fears that structured sport comes at the expense of free play.
“He suspects that’s because children who are naturally inclined to enjoy organized sport are simply active kids.
“But he says it could also be because organized sport teaches the fundamental motor, psychological and social skills that kids need for unsupervised activities such as a pickup game of basketball or playing tag after school.
“The study followed 2,278 children from Grades 4 to 8. Researchers also looked at whether age, sex and socio-economic status played a role.”
While we’ve posted several articles on walkability and its benefits (most recently for example here, here, and here), it remains difficult for many to describe just what a more walk-friendly community would look like and feel like. Here’s an article that describes walkability in terms of safety/risk, distances, convenience, and comfort. In addition to obvious risk mitigation measures like additional formal pedestrian crossings in Brockville, the article reasonably describes the sort of consideration that would go into the formulation of an active transportation plan for our city.
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.
Active Brockville encourages all forms of active living, from incorporating active modes of transportation into everyday living, to active recreational and competitive pursuits. An open water swimming area at St. Lawrence Park is currently in the proposal stage. This would be an area suitable for open water training or recreational swimming, protected from motorized boat traffic. If you are interested in seeing the draft proposal, helping to develop it further, or helping to champion this initiative, please send a “comment” with your email address (your email information will not be exposed) and I’ll be in touch. …alan
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
Two years ago, based on growing weight of evidence, Portland declared that by default all new bike lanes would be protected, that is, physically separated from motorized traffic, whenever possible. (Read here)
The evidence continues to mount not just in Portland but across North America that physically separating modes of transportation materially improves safety for all road users and provides a significant incentive for growth in cycling numbers. Portland’s response is to move to make protected bike lanes the standard and has identified more than 450 miles of city roads for upgrades. Read more 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 Lake Huron North Channel extension of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail network is ready for you to explore!
“Stretching 380 km from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie, the trail travels along quiet back roads and paths as it traverses some of the most spectacular landscapes in Ontario, serving up rocky shorelines, picturesque Mennonite and Amish farmsteads, rushing waterfalls, gently flowing rivers, sandy beaches, and thick forests. Twenty-six communities and First Nations dot its length, offering opportunities to stop, rest, and explore. Stay the night in a lakeside cottage, partake in some locally caught smoked fish, or enjoy a refreshing end-of-the-day local brew.”
“The Townships of Leeds and the Thousand Islands, Front of Yonge and the Town of Gananoque are partnering to host the third annual 1000 Islands Parkway Challenge.
Participants can run, walk, wheel or cycle from Brown’s Bay, Mallorytown Landing or Fox Run to the Rockport Recreation Hall where they can then enjoy refreshments and watch the prize presentation.”
This is a family-fun event for all ages, all abilities. Read more here.
In Brockville, our Brock Trail provides opportunities for a leisurely walk or roll in a green space, away from the noise and smell of the roads. Community trails like the Brock Trail also offer the opportunity to connect with friends and neighbours, and meet new friends. “Hike with Mike” is an opportunity created to encourage just that, on June 16 at 9 AM, starting at the trailhead beside Westminster Public School. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Trail to downtown, where you can tour the Tunnel or visit the Farmers Market for a well-earned snack. For details, on the attached poster.
Also in planning, are some leisurely, family-friendly “slow rides” along the trail. On your bike, you will be able to meet up with the group at various times and places along the Trail, starting at Laurier Blvd and ending downtown at the Farmers Market, once again for that well-earned snack. Stay tuned for more info.
Thanks to a new partnership between Green Communities Canada and Cycle Toronto, the annual Bike to School Week campaign has now expanded from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) to all Ontario schools. Read more here, and be sure to ask at your school how you can help bring this important program to your community.
“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.
If you’re wanting to get back on a bike to relive the fun you had as a kid or perhaps get around town more easily and cheaply, yet you’re worried about doing so because maybe you’re out of shape, carrying more weight than you’d like to admit, or perhaps just getting older and worried about distance and hills, then a “pedelec” e-bike might be just the ticket. A “pedelec” looks and rides like a regular bike, yet you can dial in a variable amount of boost from an electric motor to help with hills, headwinds, or heavy loads. Read more here.
“The evidence for why we should actively transport ourselves in the city is mounting, but there are some technicalities to work out. You want to get yourself around under your own steam, but where do you start? It can seem a bit daunting to change habits and possibly routes. Thankfully, we live in an era with lots of tools at our fingertips that can help us out.” And with that, a blogger from Calgary explains how she adopted more active ways of getting around the city with her kids and integrated that activity into everyday life. Read more here.
For a more complete how-to as you plan your transition to having more fun every day by walking and biking, check out Vélo Québec’s “ABC’s of Active Transportation“.
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.