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”.
Why does this matter to Brockville? Our City continues to struggle to become age friendly, youth friendly, walk friendly, and bicycle friendly, all components of an integrated set of lifestyle attractors as we compete to attract and retain talent, families, and new businesses. As a late starter and laggard in this competition we have the advantage of being able to observe and harvest the best practices from other places.
That includes Complete Streets and Vision Zero.
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.
As cities increasingly move to make streets safer for all users, intersections often remain as the last challenge to be addressed. Increasingly, “protected intersection” designs adapted from Europe are gaining favour. This article from the Toronto Star describes the design elements, with a link to an educational video. Read more here.
This post is aimed at those who have some familiarity with the design and use of cycling facilities in various configurations.
“Cycling planning and design has evolved since the publication of the current provincial cycling design guideline, OTM Book 18. WSP in association with Alta Planning + Design, Share the Road Cycling Coalition, True North Safety and Marnie Peters & Co has been retained by the Ontario Traffic Council to review and update the current OTM Book 18. This update will build upon lessons learned, integrate global best practices, enhance route and facility selection processes and explore innovative design solutions.
“We are looking for your input on what changes and additions should be included in the update to OTM Book 18: Cycling Facilities, and how these guidelines can be improved as a resource for practitioners, municipalities and advocates. “
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.
Here are two articles about walkable communities. The first article asks whether your municipality is demonstrably unfriendly for walking, featuring many instances reflecting what we find in Brockville (as in the picture above). Read first article here.
The second article is “The Complete Guide to Creating More Walkable Streets”. The guide offers a diverse array of approaches to planning and implementing more walk-friendly access for a large variety of common streetscape situations. The guide also has numerous links to more detailed case studies of each example. Read the second article here.
Brockville will be designing and approving an Active Transportation Plan this year. Stay tuned for the public workshops and be prepared to come out and collaborate in building a plan that will provide policy and guidance, leading Brockville to become a more walk-friendly 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.
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.
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.
Save the date: May 10 – 11. The 5th Annual Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit will be held in Brockville on these dates.
Thursday, May 10 will feature presentations, panelists and discussions revolving around how to create plans and projects and how to move them forward. This is of heightened interest this year, the first year of four for the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program in which many municipalities and townships throughout Eastern Ontario are receiving significant funding to help make our public roads more usable for all.
Tentatively, Friday, May 11 will be a morning session focused on cycle tourism – how our region can better gain from this fast-growing sector of the tourism economy.
The linked article from the NY Times describes a simple tweak used to modify the timing of signals and intersections such that those walking are less that risk from those driving and making turns.
The intervention is a reprogramming of signal timing such that the pedestrian walk signal is activated several seconds before the green light for drivers. This allows those walking to get a head start in the crosswalk making them more visible. The result is demonstrable less risk, especially from more aggressive drivers.
“The National Association of City Transportation Officials has highlighted the measure — called a “leading pedestrian interval” by traffic engineers and urban planners — as a best practice in its urban street design guide, saying that it is one of the ways that “effectively decrease crashes and save lives on our cities’ streets.””
This signal tweak is one that any city, large or small, can use with benefit.
And, yet again, this is a clear example of how small cities, late starters like Brockville especially, can gain by following best demonstrated practices in larger cities.
Faced with complaints and concerns about neighbourhood speeding drivers and school zone problems like those in Brockville, here is one Ontario city’s innovative approach. Take this idea to your councilor.
Still puzzled by the sharrows on Water Street in downtown Brockville?
The 200m short stretch between Home and Broad is narrow, signed at a max of 40 km/h, and part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail through town. The application of sharrows on the short stretch is a guide to those driving and cycling, about how to share the road safely and responsibly.
The illustration above, copyright and courtesy of Bikeyface, shows quite nicely what sharrows are all about. They are generally described in traffic manuals and consumer guides as a shared lane marking that:
Indicates that, as in the illustration above, the lane is too narrow to be shared side-by-side and single file is appropriate.
Reminds those driving that bicycles are vehicles on the road and entitled to use the whole lane when conditions warrant.
Reminds those cycling that on a narrow road, the safest position is to “take the lane”.
Those driving also need to keep in mind that when passing someone on a bike, a minimum of 1 m clearance is stipulated in the Highway Traffic Act. That means passing using the oncoming lane (when it’s clear of oncoming traffic, of course).
That very short stretch of Water Street has blind corners at Home, St. Andrew, Apple and Broad streets. Be a good neighbour, slow down and share the road responsibly.
Popular in Europe for some time now,”advisory cycling lanes” are starting to be used in cities across the USA and Canada. The first advisory cycling lanes have appeared in Ottawa and are under discussion in Kitchener as well.
Advisory cycling lanes are designed for low volume, low speed, narrow streets and provide much better guidance than sharrows.
Expect to see discussion of advisory cycling lanes in Brockville as the cycling network plan looks to address streets in the older sections of town. In particular, advisory cycling lanes would be a good facility to use on Water Street between Broad St and Home St.
for a full explanation of advisory cycling lanes see the City of Ottawa’s website here.
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.”
Communities across the continent are realizing the health, social, and economic benefits of designing neighbourhoods and cities, large and small, that encourage people to move themselves more often. This article explores the changes that are underway as paradigms continue to shift rapidly, and how different designs meet the needs of different types of activities. One compelling aspect of this article is the emphasis placed on the need for changes in thinking with respect to zoning, community design and political will. Read more here.
At the recent 9th annual Ontario Bike Summit in Toronto, both Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Eleanor McMahon, made announcements about province-wide cycling initiatives.
Minister Del Duca announced the release of Ontario’s provincial cycling network. The draft network, with a map of existing and proposed routes, is open for comment on the Ministry’s website. He noted that over 8,000 km of trails and bike lanes already exist in Ontario. This plan, which has gone through an initial design and round of public workshops, will combine existing and new routes into one network spanning the province, linking municipalities and points of interest, and bolstering the rapidly growing cycle-tourism sector.
(April 19) In regional news, Kingston has achieved yet another milestone in its vision to build “A Smart and Livable 21st Century City”, with an emphasis on active transportation as the guiding theme for all municipal projects. Kingston adds a Bronze designation as a Walk-Friendly Community to its previously awarded Bronze designation as as Bicycle Friendly Community. Kingston is cited for its engagement and encouragement of residents, province-leading participation rates in the annual commuter challenge, and an evidence-based approach to upgrading public facilities. Read more about Kingston’s achievement here.