Brockville’s First Bike Lanes

New bike lanes on King St W and Cty Rd 2 in Brockville (Oct 10, 2016)
New bike lanes on King St W and Cty Rd 2 in Brockville (Oct 10, 2016)

Line painting on King St W and Cty Rd 2, along with new signs, clearly show Brockville’s first bike lanes.  Some stencil and line painting remains, yet the lanes are marked and in force. This segment is part of the Ontario Waterfront Trail, and the eastbound welcome to Brockville for some 3,000 or more cyclist tourists each season.  It’s also a popular route for local commuters and recreational riders.

The original four lane configuration has been upgraded to two bike lanes, two motorized travel lanes, and a centre left turn lane. The road continues to provide significant excess capacity for measured volumes.

First proposed and approved by council in the 2009 Official Plan, further reinforced in planning rationale in 2012, and once again approved by council and Leeds Grenville public works in late 2015, they are finally a reality.

Ramping Up For The Big Jump

BigJump“For years now, cities around the US have been realizing that with simple investments, bicycles become a practical part of life in a great city. One piece at a time, cities have been learning how to make that happen. Leading cities are now working to fit it all together. They want to connect stand-alone projects into safe and convenient networks and see the Big Jump in physical activity, economic investment and neighbourhood connectivity that follows. It’s about connecting the dots, linking together protected bike lanes, quiet side streets and separate pathways, helping people get to where they want to go – jobs, education, transit, recreation.”

Cities are now applying to be one of ten selected by People For Bikes for help with Big Jump integration projects. Of note, 20% of the letters of intent to date are from cities of less than 50,000 population.  Learn more here, and view the promo video here.

Political Leadership On Active Transportation

Road-Diet-Illustration_SMALL_NoText
Before and after – New St, Burlington ON

New Street in Burlington is an urban collector with a traffic load more than double that measured on Laurier Blvd or King St W in Brockville. New St is currently configured as four lanes – two in each direction.  A pilot project underway will see New St put on a “road diet” and upgraded to two lanes plus a centre left turn lane, plus a buffered bike lane on each side.  The reconfiguration is not expected to cause material slowdowns on the road, which will remain below capacity in its new configuration. Of note, Mayor Rick Goldring has taken to social media in defense of the project, providing answers to all the questions arising. This is a good read for those still in the 1970’s paradigm for road design and usage.  Read here.  For a more detailed look at the project, which has lots of learnings for Brockville, see here.

Safe Infrastructure Benefits Replicated In London

Strava Heat Map of Central London Cycling Activity
Strava Heat Map of Central London Cycling Activity

The latest annual Attitudes to Cycling Report by Transport for London adds to the large and ever-growing body of evidence that implementation of safe infrastructure for cycling draws a massive uptake in cycling activity from among those self-identifying at “interested by cautious”. This article provides highlights and also a link to the study’s report.
Read here.

Bike Friendly Places Spawn Social Cycling Groups

Group-cycling-on-the-SeawallNumerous case studies highlight the rapid and large uptake in cycling activity following implementation of decent (largely protected) cycling networks in cities large and small.  What isn’t as well documented is that the uptake in cycling for purpose and for pleasure then spawns the growth of quite diverse social cycling groups. People find each other and gather as “birds of a feather” to create groups of similar interests and goals, ranging from fun to training, adding to the social capital of the community, with concomitant health and social benefits. This article in the Vancouver Sun describes this scene in that bike-friendly city.
Read here.

Study Confirms Benefits Of Active Mobility

LogoStudies have long confirmed the positive benefits of moderate daily exercise – a walk, bike ride, swim or similar – related to general health in management of mood, cholesterol, weight and so on.  A recently published two-decades long longitudinal study now reports that, “The study supports a hypothesis that physical activity has a direct relationship with cognition, over and above any influence on weight and cholesterol.” Simply said, “participants who did some form of movement every day were less likely to suffer memory loss in their 60s and 70s, compared to their sedentary peers.” There is it, Brockville! Active mobility matters! And directly contributing to that, a city that is more walk and bike friendly matters!  Read more here.

Building Bike Lanes Slows Climate Change

Two-way parking protected bike lane in Montreal. Photo by Karen and MomentumMag
Two-way parking protected bike lane in Montreal. Photo by Karen and MomentumMag

The causal linkage of cycling infrastructure with increased cycling modal share has been well researched and proven in several case studies.  That linkage has now been extended to quantify the long-assumed reduction in GHG emissions that contribute to climate change.  The Canadian-based research examined over ten years of data from Montreal, reaffirmed the positive link between cycling infrastructure and modal share uptake, and went on to quantify the GHG reductions resulting from modal switch from autos to bikes. Bottom line? Building bike infrastructure results in cycling uptake and a quantifiable reduction in motorized modal share, contributing (among other things) to slowing climate change.  Read more here.

Bike Design For Overweight Riders

Photo - "Fat Guy Across America"
Photo – “Fat Guy Across America”

Cycling, like swimming, as a generally non-load bearing form of aerobic exercise, is ideal for the 1/3+ of the population struggling with obesity. In one focus group session with 60 bariatric surgery patients, when asked how many remember having fun riding bikes as kids, nearly all hands went up. When asked if they’d consider riding again to lose weight if it were safe and comfortable, all those hands went back up.  A not-insignificant part of the “safe and comfortable” challenge is the “safe” aspect, and much attention is being given to education and cycling infrastructure. However, safe and comfortable bikes for heavier riders are hard to come by.  Here’s an article on the quest to solve that challenge. One aspect not addressed though is the obvious advantage of pedelecs, or power-assisted e-bikes.  Read more here.

Moving Beyond Vehicular Cycling

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s a thoughtful exploration of how Europe and Montreal managed to pull so far ahead of North America in encouraging far more people to cycle for pleasure and for purpose.  In fact, about 30 years ahead.  Vehicular cycling is a necessary skill set when cycling, yet is shown over and over to be wholly insufficient in encouraging people to cycle. The article also nicely counters the anti-laners’ stance of “just share the road”. Read here.

Ontario By Bike! June e-Newsletter

Great Waterfront Trail Adventure 2014 - credit: Erika Jacobs
Great Waterfront Trail Adventure 2014 – credit: Erika Jacobs

Ontario By Bike! is the leading organization in the province for cycling tourism, the most rapidly growing tourism sector. Cycle tourism ranges the gamut from single day or weekend adventures to multi-week tours, complete with culinary delights, cultural attractions and like-minded company. Their regular e-newsletter provides an update on highlights and developments.  Sign up for a free e-subscription or read the most recent newsletter 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.

The Right To Wind In Your Hair

CYA__LogoWhat a wonderful development and program…

“We are all heading on the same path that our grandparents were on. It is an inevitable journey of life. Cycling Without Age reminds us of that relationship with our elders and on our five guiding principles that we abide by.”

“It starts with the simple act of generosity. Give our time to them when they gave us their care and time. There are a lot of stories to be shared through storytelling from our elders, but also from us. They want to listen to us too and through this bridge we form relationships. We take our time, and the act of cycling slowly helps us take in the experience and appreciate it. Without age is the principle of how life does not end at a given age, but instead we can embrace what each generation has to offer through something as simple as cycling.”
Read more at their website.

Building Community Through Bike Friendly Planning

Bicycle_Friendly_Community_Sign_02_1This linked article from Toronto’s dandyhorse magazine  takes a closer look at five Bicycle Friendly Communities featured at the recent Ontario Bike Summit. The article provides a good summary of how commitment to the “5E’s” (Engineering, Encouragement, Education, Enforcement and Evaluation/planning), along with good political will, has enriched the communities.  Read the article here.

Healthy Kids Community Grant Funds “Brock Trail Adventure Club”

HealthyKids1Grade 5/6 children in Brockville are exploring the Brock Trail in active ways thanks to a grant from the Healthy Kids Community Challenge Leeds and Grenville Community Project Fund.

This project provides children (grade 5/6) theHealthyKids2
opportunity to explore the expanded Brock Trail system through an after school program. Facilitated by the Brockville Police Service, the Brock Trail Adventure Club will run two nights a week, serving a different school each week. Sessions will include an educational component on outdoor and trail safety as well as an opportunity to explore the Brock Trail through a variety of activities such as biking, scavenger hunts, and compass use.

This project is a collaboration amongst the Brockville Police Service, Brock Trail Committee, Brockville Cycling Advisory Committee and Kinsmen Club of Brockville.  Read more.