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”.
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A new survey by EKOS reveals that Torontonians of all ages, urban and suburban, support protected bike lanes. Toronto now mirrors other cities large and small who are further along the active transportation journey. Initial cycling infrastructure projects often meet strident resistance from those whose worldview is threatened, as they did in Toronto. However, when the infrastructure is well designed and implemented, widespread public support invariably climbs quickly (and the world does not go apocalyptic). This survey measures how fast that has happened.
When EKOS asked about protected bike lanes, which separate cyclists from cars using curbs, posts or planters, the results were emphatic — 82 per cent in favour. No matter where they live, and irrespective of age or income, most residents support bike lane construction. The findings are consistent with a 2017 Angus Reid survey that found 80 per cent of Torontonians support a “safe network of bicycle lanes.”
The new poll puts clichés to rest. This is not just a young person’s issue; EKOS found bike lanes enjoy the backing of 79 per cent of those 55 years and older. It’s not an issue only for people with modest means; 85 per cent of residents with annual income of $120,000 or more endorse the lanes. Perhaps most significant, 75 per cent of those whose main mode of transport is the automobile support bike lanes.
There is no doubt at all that when Brockville drags itself past the car-centric paradigm into the current age of active transportation enlightenment, similar perspectives will prevail.
While we’ve posted several articles on walkability and its benefits (most recently for example here, here, and here), it remains difficult for many to describe just what a more walk-friendly community would look like and feel like. Here’s an article that describes walkability in terms of safety/risk, distances, convenience, and comfort. In addition to obvious risk mitigation measures like additional formal pedestrian crossings in Brockville, the article reasonably describes the sort of consideration that would go into the formulation of an active transportation plan for our city.
“More than 80 per cent of Toronto residents support building protected bike lanes, a new poll finds. The support is highest among those living in the core, with nearly nine in 10 people in the former pre-amalgamation city of Toronto wanting the lanes. But the trend was also visible in the suburbs, including Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York, with more than 70 per cent of respondents expressing support in every region of the city, according to the survey results provided exclusively to CBC Toronto.”
“The random survey of 800 Toronto residents, conducted by Ekos Research Associates earlier this month, also found more than 75 per cent of people who primarily drive to get around the city are also supporters of protected bike lanes”
The survey results are incredibly positive and show even stronger support than surveys done over the last couple of years.
It’s finally sinking in. Despite labels like “pedestrians”, “cyclists”, and “drivers”, more understand that we’re all just people – friends, neighbours, family, all ages and all abilities – trying to move around safely regardless of choice of mode of transportation at any given time.
So let’s listen up and learn, and help each other get home safely.
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 growing popularity of e-bikes is no surprise, given their ability to provide an easy alternative to the car for short trips and to help those wanting to get back on a bike but perhaps not having ridden since they were kids. (Read more here.)
In Ontario however, one of our stumbling blocks has been the omnibus classification of “e-bike” that encompasses both heavier scooter/moped styles as well as the more bicycle-like pedelec style. The common classification for two distinct styles is causing confusion as municipalities try to figure out which vehicles are appropriate to use on various facilities. Clarification is coming – MTO has committed to review and update the classifications as part of Action Plan 2.0 of the Ontario Cycling Strategy. For more information, see Share the Road’s article here.
The Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands is working in partnership with Gananoque to complete a Joint Recreation Master Plan. This Plan will guide recreational services over the next ten years and will include a needs assessment to support the future direction of parks, trails, recreation and leisure services. It will also include a series of recommendations and policy guidelines around the delivery of programs, events, facilities and services.
If you’re a program participant, a volunteer helping to make recreation and leisure services possible, or a community champion helping to promote and support programs, then this is an opportunity to help shape the future.
Community consultation sessions are scheduled at the Seeley’s Bay Community Hall on June 6, and again at the Lou Jeffries Recreation Arena in Gananoque in June 13.
If you are unable to attend, you will still have the opportunity to make sure that your voice is heard. Online and print surveys will be launched June 6 and will be available on the website until the end of the month.
The Canadian Automobile Association has long been a promoter of cycling through their education programs and services, recognizing that the majority of their members don’t just drive – they also choose to ride bikes, both for purpose and for pleasure. In a recently published report, CAA provides an integrated set of approaches to address urban auto traffic congestion, putting investments in active transportation as an important component.
“building segregated bike lanes that makes cycling commuters feel safe and secure can be a relatively low-cost way to reduce urban congestion. Policymakers should also consider better integrating bike sharing with transit systems as a true “last mile” solution.”
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.
Turning a long history of commitments into action, Brockville Council voted 5-3 to develop a long-awaited active transportation plan for the city. While most of the media attention has been focused on the much-loved Brock Trail, meaningful long term impact will largely stem from the process to develop and adopt the cycling components of the plan.
This vote is one step today, for the Brockville we want tomorrow.
The Township of Leeds & Thousand Islands is in the final stages of a major update to their Official Plan, including a commitment to further develop active transportation opportunities (see pp 159-160 of draft update here), development of an active transportation plan has started. For those interested, the first round of public workshops is coming on May 19. See the notice attached below.
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The long-overdue development of an active transportation plan for Brockville, first committed a decade ago in the Official Plan, finally gets underway. At this evening’s Finance Admin and Operations committee meeting (City Hall, 4:30 PM), an operations staff report outlining the results of the bid process will be presented and the committee will be asked to approve moving ahead with the selected bidder. That approval will then move forward in the FAO consent agenda to full Council on Tuesday, May 22.
Come out and show the committee and Council that you support moving ahead to develop, approve and then adopt an active transportation plan for the City. It’s also a great opportunity, with a municipal election coming in November, to listen to councilors comments and see who are supportive of Brockville’s residents gaining the health, social, environmental, and economic benefits of becoming a healthier, more active place to live, work, grow, and play.
Ontario already leads Canada in adoption of complete streets policies. Fully 84% of Ontarians live in a municipality where complete streets are either provincially mandated or have been adopted by local council. Sarnia is about to move up to that level of competing for families, talent and new business when their council moves to adopt a complete streets policy this month. As in other cities, the complete streets policy will ensure that public roads safely serve all members of the public – all ages, all abilities, all modes of transportation, for purpose and for pleasure.
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.
For those who like to follow what’s happening in the leading, larger cities for practices that can be applied in places that are smaller and/or lagging way behind, there’s always lots to learn from Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montréal. Vancouver’s journey has perhaps been the most successful across a broad set of measures. Fully 50% of trips in the City of Vancouver are made by bike, on foot, or by transit. A few notable highlights are captured in the images and you can read more here.
In his paper, “Mobility and Innovation: the New Transportation Paradigm”, Todd Litman, founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, explores the economic, social and health imperatives behind the radical shifts in transportation policy and practices sweeping the developed world.
Recognizing that the major transportation innovations of the last few decades don’t help us get to places faster but instead more cheaply, more conveniently, and more safely, the author then notes that, “The human experience is increasingly urban. Cities are, by definition, places where many people and activities locate close together. This proximity facilitates positive interactions, both planned (accessing shops, services, jobs and entertainment) and unplanned (encountering old friends while walking on the street or riding in a bus, or seeing interesting products in a store window). As a result, urban living tends to increase our productivity and creativity, a phenomenon known as economies of agglomeration.”
That very process of agglomeration however, traditionally built around the automobile, spawns challenges of congestion, cost, pollution and declining health. The author then fully explores the dynamics of the new transportation and planning paradigms that have taken hold over the last decade, more focused on putting people first, and allowing people to move and interact conveniently, comfortably, and safely.
It’s a fascinating “big picture” read which you can find here.
A new survey by Nanos Research for Share the Road adds to the trend in earlier robust research showing continued and strong public support for improving cycling in Ontario. The majority agree that getting more people riding bikes benefits everyone, that public funding should be used to improve cycling infrastructure, that investments in cycling are important for public health, and more.
One note of interest in this survey is the support for cycling’s impact on social equity, with the majority strongly or somewhat agreeing with the statement, “Cycling isn’t just about recreation, it’s about equality. For many individuals transportation costs are a major financial burden. If someone’s only or best way to get to work or go shopping is a bike, they should have the option to ride their bike and ride it in safety. That’s a good reason for the provincial government to promote cycling in Ontario.”
Of no surprise is the continued finding that roughly half of those surveyed thought negatively about the behaviour of those driving, and half of those surveyed thought negatively about the behaviour of those cycling. This aligns with other research showing that those cycling and those driving float the law in about equal numbers.
The full presentation and report makes for interesting reading and adds to the body of evidence showing general public support to improve cycling in the province. To download this previous research report, click here (pdf).
Methodology: Nanos conducted an online survey of 1,004 Ontarians, 18 years of age or older, between April 5th and 10th, 2018. The results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender using the latest Census information and the sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Ontario. The research was commissioned by Share the Road Cycling Coalition and was conducted by Nanos.
Last week the province launched a new round of cycling initiatives, “Action Plan 2.0”, to extend, deepen and diversify the progress made under “Action Plan 1.0”.
The plan is based on Ontario’s cycling strategy delivered in 2013, “#CycleON“, reconfirming and extending the delivery of facilities, programs and services that encourage more people to get on bikes more often, for purpose and for pleasure.
Read the provincial announcement here.
Learn more about cycling in Ontario and download the cycling strategy, Action Plan 1.0, and Action Plan 2.0 documents here.
Of note, the Plan will cover cycling and walking as well as other forms of active transportation, will take into consideration work already done for the Official Plan, and since then by the Brock Trail and cycling advisory committees. The plan will include consideration for things like pedestrian crosswalks and crossovers, staged implementation, completion of the Brock Trail, and more.
Public engagement opportunities and development of the plan will include open public workshops at the design stage as well as an opportunity to review the proposed plans. It’s expected that the workshops will be open and welcoming to all members of the public, to work together to identify and prioritize opportunities to help build a community that better supports choices for healthy activity, both for purpose and for pleasure.