Towards a Bike-Friendly Canada: A National Cycling Strategy Overview

Crossing Laurier Ave in Ottawa – Photo: Hans Moor

Many municipalities and a few provinces across Canada have made solid gains towards making cycling on public roads is a safe and convenient choice for getting around. Progress is also being made towards a national cycling strategy that would provide both opportunities and consistency in guidelines and funding. Canada Bikes is the national nonprofit organization leading this charge. Working with stakeholder organizations across the country, they have developed a primer called  Towards a Bike-Friendly Canada: A National Cycling Strategy Overview (pdf). That and more is on the Canada Bikes website.

“The document is inspired by long-established frameworks already in place in the most advanced and successful bike-friendly countries in the world. We hope you find it helpful in describing what a national cycling strategy could do for Canada and for all of us.”

Ontario Passes Legislation to Keep Kids Safe on Local Roads

 

From today’s announcement:
Ontario passed legislation today to protect the most vulnerable users of local roads, including children, seniors, pedestrians and cyclists.

The Safer School Zones Act gives municipalities more tools to fight speeding and dangerous driving in their communities, including:

  • Automated speed enforcement (ASE) technology, which will help catch speeders. Municipalities will have the option to use this technology in school zones and also in community safety zones on roads with speed limits below 80 km/h.
  • The ability to create zones with reduced speed limits to decrease the frequency and severity of pedestrian-vehicle collisions in urban areas.
  • A streamlined process for municipalities to participate in Ontario’s effective Red Light Camera program without the need for lengthy regulatory approval.

Municipalities, police boards and road safety advocates from across Ontario have asked for these tools to help keep roads safe, particularly in areas with children and seniors. With the passage of this new legislation, municipalities will now have the option to implement road safety measures in a way that makes sense in their local communities.

Ontario’s roads have consistently ranked among the safest in North America, and these new tools will help make communities even safer for all vulnerable road users.

Read the full announcement, with links to further information, here.

Evidence Says We’re All Scofflaws

“According to a certain perspective that seems to hold sway among local newspaper columnists [and writers of letters to editors], bicyclists are reckless daredevils who flout the road rules that everyone else faithfully upholds. But the results of a massive survey published in the Journal of Transport and Land Use point to a different conclusion — everyone breaks traffic laws, and there’s nothing extraordinary about how people behave on bikes.”

This isn’t the first research effort to reach this conclusion, and it likely won’t be the last.

Read the article here, and download the study here (pdf).

Cornwall Gains Bicycle-Friendly Community Designation

Photo: Bill Kingston, Newswatch Group, 2016

Cornwall is the latest Ontario municipality to gain a Bicycle Friendly Community accreditation. Cornwall, along with Cambridge, Collingwood, Temiskaming Shores and Whitby, join 31 other Bike Friendly Communities that are home to nearly 2/3 of Ontarians. Cornwall’s bronze designation recognizes that city’s progress on the “Five E’s”: Engineering, Encouragement, Education, Enforcement and Evaluation/planning.
Read more in the Newswatch article here.

The Bicycle Friendly Community program was launched in Ontario in 2010 by the Share The Road Cycling Coalition, adapted from a similar program run by the Washington-based League of American Bicyclists. The primary program sponsor is the Canadian Automobile Association, and Trek Bicycles is also a sponsor.

Awards are granted after a rigorous application process, judged by a team of industry experts.

In this latest round, Kingston, London and Markham renewed their bronze designation, and Belleville, Essex, Midland and Norfolk County received an honourable mention.

Where’s Brockville? Our city received an honourable mention in 2013 and will apply again when sufficient progress has occurred.

Hamilton Prepares To Learn Licensing Lessons

Conceptual illustration, Pulaski Bridge protected cycle track (Image Credit: Brownstoner Queens)
Conceptual illustration, Claremont protected cycle track (Image Credit: Brownstoner Queens)

As reported many times, the notion of licensing bicycles seldom gains traction. Despite that, most cities have a councilor or two who don’t pay attention to what happens in other cities, or perhaps simply look for a convenient soapbox. From the report in The Hamilton Spectator, we’re about to see a couple of councilors there learn the lesson too.
Read more here.

Road Carnage Finally Getting Attention

practice-area-pedestrian-accidents-2 We live in a strange world in which road fatalities are normalized, expected and have been a socially acceptable price to pay for unfettered impatience. Finally, society is coming around to the notion that it’s not acceptable, and cities are starting to embrace Vision Zero.  This editorial in the Globe and Mail hits the nail squarely on the head.  Read more here.

A Lasting Legacy Of Licensing Losses

cyclingcrowdAcross the land, as active transportation gains steadily restore publicly-funded roads to safer use by the general public, regardless of mode of movement chosen at any given time, someone, somewhere, is asking why licences aren’t required, either for bikes or those who ride them. Over decades, a lasting legacy of articles and council decisions have honed the responses to a simple set.  Many cities do offer bike registration for theft recovery (Brockville being one, thanks to the Kinsmen Club), and some cities have bicycle licensing statutes that are largely ignored by all. However, they are the exception.  Continue reading “A Lasting Legacy Of Licensing Losses”

Licensing Notion Is A Repeating Distraction

bikelicenseThe notion of licensing bikes has surfaced once again, this time in Toronto.  Some cities, like Toronto and Winnipeg, used to do this and abandoned the practice due to high costs and lack of tangible benefits. Still, every year the notion surfaces in a few cities, usually from back-seat politicians eager to make a mark yet not eager to do any homework first. As a preemptive play to dissuade any local thinking in this direction, here’s a helpful summary of why this idea is or should be a non-starter, from Cycle Toronto.  Read more here.

New Road Safety Rules In Force In Quebec Too

1mNew road rules are now in effect in Quebec as of July 1st, mirroring Ontario’s recent updates.  This includes both the 1m passing law as well as dooring penalties.  For those who ride and/or drive in Ontario and Quebec (and Nova Scotia), be aware that there’s a 1m minimum for passing clearance.  This means a person driving must either change lanes to pass, crossing the centre line if necessary when the opposing way is clear, or wait behind a person cycling until able to pass.  When driving, also remember that on roads too narrow to share side by side, a person cycling is entitled and encouraged to take the whole lane for safety.  Read about Quebec’s update 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.

Enforcement Of One Metre Passing Law Begins In Ottawa

Photo: CBC Ottawa
Photo: CBC Ottawa

As this CBC story relates, misunderstanding of road rules continues to proliferate and some people remain staunchly in an entitled state of mind. Online reactions show clearly that bullying, harassment and intimidation, long outlawed and rendered socially unacceptable in the workplace and schoolyard, are rife on the road and online. Add in CBC’s persistent penchant for fueling foment, and nobody seems served well by this approach to the conversation. Read CBC article here.

Continue reading “Enforcement Of One Metre Passing Law Begins In Ottawa”

Tougher Penalties Proposed For Those Whose Careless Driving Kills Those Walking And Cycling

Photo from Pedal Magazine
Photo from Pedal Magazine

Kudos to Burlington MPP and Share The Road founder Eleanor McMahon, whose bill to amend the HTA received all-party unanimous support in passing second reading in the legislature this past week.

The amendment, if adopted, would significantly increase the penalty for those whose careless driving results in the death of a vulnerable road user.

Eleanor McMahon MPP news release here.
CBC report here.
Toronto Star report here.

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.

News: Sudbury Adopts New PXO Standards

Three of four different styles of PXO
Three of four different styles of PXO (Source: MTO)

News from Sudbury where repeated calls for safer pedestrian crossings (PXO’s) is being met by plans that will see 17 new PXO’s installed, all using variations of the new designs legitimized last year by MTO in Bill 31. This is something Brockville needs too – along King St, along Water St, and at all Brock Trail road crossings.  Read Sudbury article.
See here for MTO descriptions of crossovers and new laws.

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.

News: Waterloo Region Removes Two-Abreast Cycling Prohibition

IMG_1175cThe Region of Waterloo becomes the latest municipality to remove a local by-law provision prohibiting cycling two abreast.  The Region is one of a handful that, like Brockville, has such a provision running counter to the HTA, common sense and prevailing practices.  Continue reading “News: Waterloo Region Removes Two-Abreast Cycling Prohibition”