As more cities try to improve walkability–from car-free “superblocks” in Barcelona to heat-protected walkways in Dubai–a new report outlines the reasons behind the shift, the actions that cities can take to move away from a car-centric world, and why walkability matters. Read more here.
All of the summits draw elected representatives, professionals, advocates and other interested parties from public works, transportation, planning, consulting, economic development, education, tourism, recreation and other disciplines together.
Here’s a quick guide with links to pages where you can learn more:
– The 10th Annual Ontario Bike Summit will be held in Toronto April 16-18.
– The National Bike Summit will be held in Ottawa May 28-29.
– The 5th Annual Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit will be held this year right here in Brockville, at the Memorial Centre, May 10-11.
The linked article nicely summarizes the individual and population health benefits accruing from introducing even moderate amounts of cycling into everyday travel. On a population basis, it’s no surprise that every $1 invested in cycling facilities that encourage more people to ride more often results in health care cost reductions of $3 – $20 per annum down the road.
Read more here.
A good article summarizing factors behind the continued and accelerating growth of cycling. https://www.ecowatch.com/bicycling-soar-popularity-2515406297.html
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, in her just-released report, calls for better design and delivery of supports and infrastructure for active mobility in our built environment as one key and immediately actionable way to stem the growing twin scourges of obesity and inactivity. These are gateway conditions leading to diseases that sap quality of life, raise health care costs, and drain economic productivity.
The municipal leaders in this video understand the health and social benefits of parks and trails, as well as their direct contribution to economic development – attracting and retaining businesses, talent and families.
Do your councilors understand? Ask them!
City parks are increasingly being viewed as critical community infrastructure – the lungs of the community. Shared-use trails running through and connecting them are the circulatory system. Together, they provide life – the social, health and transportation means to a more vital city.
Do your councilors understand this? Ask them! The municipal leaders in this video certainly do!
Andre Picards’ opinion piece in the Globe and Mail summarizes quite nicely several years of research and case studies on the economic and health benefits of designing cities to be more walkable. His short and insightful piece summarizes our current state well: “Walking has to become a lever for social change, big and small – for everything from healthier neighbourhoods to a more sustainable planet – and walkability needs to be imbued into the DNA of urban planning.”
Read the article here.
Eight national health organizations are calling on the federal government to develop and implement an active transportation strategy for Canada, citing research that links moderate amounts of exercise woven into the activities of daily living with significant reductions in the instance and severity of several chronic diseases and their associated healthcare costs.
Read the article here.
One of the best ways to help your kids be healthier is to be active with them. And one of the easiest ways for anyone to get more active is to weave activity into everyday activities like, say, biking to school. It’s well established that kids who walk, run, ride, or roll to school arrive more refreshed and ready to learn, and that translates to improved performance. It’s also well-established that kids of parents who engage with them in activities are more likely to be active on their own and develop a more active lifestyle. With all that in mind, if you’re interested in learning how to gear up for that school journey with your kids by bike this article provides some great tips. Read more here.
A new group, Doctors for Safe Cycling is adding their voice through a website and Facebook page, to the call for streets to be safe for all ages, all abilities. They join the Canadian Medical Association, long an advocate for active transportation (policy paper, 2009, pdf), and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
As Doctors for Safe Cycling point out in this recent article in the Toronto Star, “Cycling is very effective in promoting good physical and mental health, and it’s infrastructure like protected lanes that makes widespread bike use possible.”
StatsCan reports that fully 41% of Canadians over the age of 12 are at least occasional cyclists now, and cites the evidence that, “The health benefits of physical activity, including cycling, are widely recognized. In an era when nearly a third of children and youth and just under two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, cycling for leisure or transport is a valuable form of exercise. Cycling is also good for the environment ― commuting by bicycle helps to alleviate road congestion and noise pollution and reduces emissions.”
It’s time for Brockville to join the 21st century and work to become bicycle friendly. There will always be naysayers and NIMBYs who fight to keep streets unsafe, children at risk and property values depressed, but it’s time to move ahead and create a better Brockville.
Two recent articles on walk-friendly communities made recent note. The first is a CBC piece on Sudbury’s progress toward becoming walk-friendly, with development on several fronts. As Sudbury’s active transportation coordinator says, “We know younger generations are driving less, and there’s more interest in living a sustainable lifestyle. So I do believe it’s to the city’s benefit to invest in cycling and walking, to attract people to come here, live here, work here and start families here.” Read that article here.
A second article, from Public Health Ontario, highlights a recently published study that investigated the health benefits of integrating walking into everyday activity. This isn’t the first study in this area and it won’t be the last as the evidence continues to mount that designing walkability into our urban landscape results in healthier lifestyles. Of course, that in turn reduces future healthcare costs. “In this age group [30-44], people in the most walkable neighbourhoods averaged almost 15 minutes per day more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity than people in the least walkable neighbourhoods.” Read that article here.
“Cities are their streets. Great cities are those with great streets. Other things matter, of course — parks, buildings, transit — but it’s streets that bring a city to life, that make it a place people choose to live, visit, work, play . . .” Click through here to see a wonderful piece on how Toronto’s streets are coming alive as they’re reclaimed to put people first.
As the invention of the bicycle passes its 200th anniversary, this article reflects on the climate change of that time which partially spurred the development as a practical means of transport. In today’s world, transportation paradigms are changing as fast as the climate, with the humble bicycle playing an an integral role. Read more here.
CAPE, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, has provided an extensive article on their website outlining their endorsement of a national cycling strategy for the diverse and far-reaching benefits that a more bicycle friendly Canada would provide for all. Read more here.
“A National Cycling Strategy is the holy grail of public health; the public policy the serves many public health goals with one investment. It is an investment that will pay for itself many times over in health care savings alone.”
In our community of Brockville, like most cities, especially post-industrial centres struggling to rebuild, we have a socio-demographic cohort of those living with low income. These are the “invisible cyclists”, those for whom walking and cycling is a necessity rather than a choice. For various reasons they often don’t have an opportunity to participate in surveys, attend public information sessions, or have their voices heard in forums discussing better choices in safely getting around town for work, school, shopping and appointments.
Invisible cyclists don’t travel in packs, wearing brightly coloured Lycra outfits. They likely aren’t seen leisurely cruising the Brock Trail either. Rather, they are to be found at dusk or dawn, often on a cast-off bike, headed to or from work. Or coming home from shopping, or a few bags of groceries hung from the handlebars. Easy transportation and the ability to carry packages is an often overlooked yet simple factor in food equity.
One of the considerations in designing a network of cycling routes is that it be safe, convenient, and easily navigable by those of All Ages & Abilities. A cycling network that includes as key destinations workplaces, grocery stores, pharmacies, schools and so on helps to serve invisible cyclists.
Designing for “everyday cycling”, one of the design principles of Brockville’s nascent network, is an important aspect of supporting social equity that must not be overlooked.
Other cycling-related approaches which address social inequity around basic transportation could include installing a small bike share with four or five bikes at Community Hub locations, providing an easier way to get to and from the grocery store than walking. Another common approach is supporting the establishment and operation of a bike repair co-op or a “bicycle recycle” shop.
For a great article on invisible bikers, read here.
For a deeper, evidence-based exploration of how social equity factors into the benefits and challenges of active transportation, see this paper (pdf) from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.
The agenda is set for the 4th Annual Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit to be held May 31st and June 1st in Carleton Place. Of note in the agenda, which is provided below, are an update on provincial funding programs for municipalities, the provincial cycling network, the provincial cycle tourism strategy, and a presentation by the lead investigator for the public health report prepared for Belleville which showed strong financial incentive for that city’s recent decision to approve further implementation of bike lanes. For registration, see here.EOATS2017
Belleville city council has approved the next round of bike lanes to be installed, citing safety and encouragement of everday cycling, along with health benefits that will offset millions in healthcare costs over the next decade.
This blog reported recently on Belleville’s coming moves, as well as the report prepared by their regional health unit which used the World Health Organization’s model to monetize the health benefits. That study found that, “every dollar invested in related infrastructure for biking and walking could result in more than $2.78 to $5.56 in health benefits.”
Belleville is a city similar to Brockville, divided by Highway 401, the major rail lines and water courses. They also have some residents who went on record saying their street, Bridge Street, is too dangerous and they wanted to keep it that way, similar to a few residents on Laurier Blvd. in Brockville. However, “City staff indicated the street is wide enough for the lanes. Council voted unanimously for the project which will go ahead this year along with lanes on Adam Street and College Street East.”
What is notable in the reporting of the council meeting is the strong support from councillors to moving Belleville forward as a community in which public roads are safer for all, and their understanding that this is necessary for the future health and vitality of their city. As an example is Councillor Mitch Panciuk’s comment, “It is inexcusable that it took until 2016 for the city to have its first cycling lane and we have a long way to catch up.”
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.
From Cycling Industry News:
“A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health has concluded that physical separation from motor traffic is “crucial” to reducing the higher than average cyclist injury rates seen across the U.S.”
“In an leading editorial to sit alongside the deeper study, the authors write: ‘bicycle infrastructure can indeed help improve cycling safety and increase cycling levels. That is clearly demonstrated by decades of evidence from Europe, by the 10 US cities listed in Table 1 (below), and by the article on Boston by Pedroso et al. However, the type and quality of bicycle infrastructure matter as well. It is crucial to provide physical separation from fast-moving, high-volume motor vehicle traffic and better intersection design to avoid conflicts between cyclists and motor vehicles. More and better bicycle infrastructure and safer cycling would encourage Americans to make more of their daily trips by bicycle and, thus, help raise the currently low physical activity levels of the US population.'” Read the article here.