Leeds-Grenville Moves Ahead With Paved Shoulders

(April 4, 2017) In a unanimous vote today, the Committee of the Whole of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville passed the following motion:

THAT the Committee of the Whole recommends consideration of paved shoulders in its award of the 2017 County Road 2 contract for the reconstruction of part of the road between Johnstown and Cardinal; and

THAT staff prepare a full financial analysis of paved shoulders in the upcoming update of the Counties’ Asset Management Plan. 

If followed through, this would bring Leeds Grenville on par with jurisdictions regionally and further afield who have recognized the cost savings and myriad other benefits of paving shoulders on rural roads.

The report that CAO Andy Brown prepared for the Committee lays out the full rationale for the recommendation. An extract of the agenda package, with that report, is attached.

LeedsGrenvilleCmteWhole20170404

In a related motion, the Committee endorsed a call on the province to commit further funding to the Ontario Municipal Cycling Infrastructure Program. Details are in the agenda package above.

Making AT Work In Small, Rural Communities

Temporary “pop-up” traffic calming demonstration – Haliburton Communities In Action Committee

“Small, rural communities have different realities than their urban counterparts, especially when it comes to active transportation. Most have limited financial resources, but extensive road infrastructure to maintain. Rural geography generally means large distances and low density. The prevailing attitudes regarding transportation may be quite focused on cars. Finally, most evidence on AT is urban based, leaving a gap in knowledge.”

Continue reading “Making AT Work In Small, Rural Communities”

In Pursuit Of Paved Shoulders

Here’s an article in the local Gananoque Reporter which fairly summarizes the current quest for our county to implement a paved shoulders policy, accepting the established body of evidence on cost savings and safety gains for all road users.
Read the article here
. (link corrected Jan 19/17)
Read more posts about paved shoulders here.

Uptake In Cycling Benefits Local Economies

tdl327cIt’s well established that increases in cycling modal share create a multiplier effect in population health improvements and reduced health care costs. Yet the economic effects don’t seem to be as well accepted, despite quinquennial study updates in places like Québec, published by MTQ and Vélo Québec.  It’s good to see other studies from other regions add to that evidence.  Here, BBC Research reports on Colorado, where cycling events and tourism add $1.6 billion annually to the state economy. That’s why Bike Friendly Business Areas and paved shoulders are so important in the larger economic picture. Read more here.

QuebecEconomicBenefits

Lanark County Paved Shoulders Rolling Smoothly

shouldersLanark County reports that two years into their paved shoulders policy they’ve already covered 27% of their roads and they’re on track for $600,000 in annual maintenance savings and a 16 year payback on the capital costs. This good news does not include the deeper societal savings from reduced motor vehicle crashes – savings in insurance, emergency response, health care, lost wages and yes, lives.  Nor does it include the benefits of a safer environment for those walking and cycling.
Read more here.

News: SW Ontario Shares in Provincial Cycling Grants

CWATSLondon, Chatham-Kent, Kingsville, Windsor, LaSalle and Tecumseh are each receiving $325,000 toward cycling projects in their municipalities.  Facilities planned run the gamut from paved shoulders on rural roads to bike lanes to shared-use trails.  Of note, several of the projects close gaps in Essex County’s “County Wide Active Transportation System”. This is a network that’s proving to be an economic boost to the entire county through a collection of routes and facilities that connects communities across their rural landscape.
Read more in the Ontario announcement or this article in the Windsor Star.

Paving Shoulders Helps Everyone

shouldersA recent article in the Brockville Recorder and Times highlighted the renewed and repeated call for paving shoulders on county roads.  Let’s use this opportunity to shed some light on why this is a good idea.

First of all, it saves taxpayers money.  Yes, perhaps counter-intuitive, given that it costs more to upgrade a road to include paved shoulders, especially when culverts, drainage ditches and rock cuts are considered. However, the surrounding counties – Lennox-Addington, Stormont-Dundas and Lanark – all have paved shoulders policies. Many other jurisdictions in North America do as well. Their experience is that the reduced operational costs pay back the increased capital costs over 8 – 10 years.  The operational savings come from reduced need to regrade gravel shoulders a few times a year, rebuild gravel shoulders when eroded or damaged by winter snow clearing activity, improved drainage and longer lifespan of the asphalt road edges when vehicle run-off is eliminated, especially on the inner radius of curves.

The savings are accelerated when considering that the capital costs of road works are usually shared with the provincial or federal governments, reducing the local taxpayers’ direct burden to 50% in many cases. Add to this the fact that all the savings are operational – 100% covered by local taxpayers in the county budget.

We could end the business case there. Paving shoulders saves taxpayers money over the long run. End of story.  Not so fast!  There are other savings too.

Statistics from jurisdictions with paved shoulders show that single vehicle “off the edge” crashes are reduced anywhere from 9% to 40% (this latter from Florida).  Every year in Leeds-Grenville we read about a handful of single vehicle crashes in which the motorist drove off the edge of the road and couldn’t recover, often going on to hit a tree or a utility pole.   Paved shoulders provide some recovery room, leading to crash reductions.  This saves lives.  This also saves the costs associated with those collisions: emergency response, trauma and longer term health care, insurance, lost wages and funerals. Some articles suggest that for higher-risk roads, this aspect of paved shoulders alone provides a monetary business case.

Almost as a side benefit, not costing shoulders2anything at all when the above is considered, paved shoulders support active mobility.  Many country residents use county road shoulders for walking – walking their dogs, walking for exercise.  Paving shoulders provides sure footing and a place to walk.  Paved shoulders also provide riding space for people riding bikes out of the travel lane.  This latter point is especially important given the growth of cycle tourism through this region.  The Ontario Waterfront Trail route follows County Road 2, and it’s one of the least bicycle friendly stretches of Trail in the network’s 1,600 km.

In November 2011, county staff were directed to develop a paved shoulders policy for consideration by council.  That never happened.  Let’s renew the call for a common sense policy that saves money and lives, and that supports active mobility which in turn generates economic benefit in tourism and improved health.