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 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.
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!
Active School Travel, a.k.a. Active & Safe Routes to School, is ramping up in Ontario with a provincial injection of funds and resources. Some places, like Ottawa, have made good progress. In Brockville, the understanding and desire is in place at UCDSB, as are some small beginnings. With provincial co-ordination, hopefully local action will regain momentum. This Ottawa newsletter provides a good overview.
“Are Bike Lanes Good for Traffic?” is the title, yet the article is really a wide-ranging description of the progress being made everywhere as public roads are transformed to be safer for moving people regardless of choice of transportation. It was published in autotrader.ca and serves to both illuminate and describe the variety of approaches, designs, and social factors brought into play as roads built first for cars are now reshaped to serve moving people. Read the article here.
Those of us who live in slow-starter small cities rely on the larger cities and their deeper resources to figure out what works really well and what doesn’t, and to measure and publish their results. Cities like Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and others have all got great stories to tell. In this short article, New York City’s Department of Transportation summarizes the results of a multi-year investment in cycling facilities, revealing some stunning yet not surprising numbers over a five-year period, including a 50% increase in regular cyclists and an 80% increase in cycle commuting.
Read the article here, or download the report PDF here.
In Lanark County the Council of Smiths Falls is making an important first step toward joining Mississippi Mills as a bike friendly community. Town council has approved an initial priority list of cycling infrastructure projects as part of an application for provincial OMCCP funding. Read more here.
At its next meeting on July 13th, it’s expected that the City’s cycling advisory committee will pass motions endorsing Brockville’s application to participate in the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program, and recommending development of a cycling master plan for the City.
Edmonton is the most recent of several major Canadian cities to realize the benefits of implementing a cycling network all at once in a defined area. Well, that new network is set to open. Along with that their city website provides a full guide (pdf) for all street users, including safety tips for those cycling, or walking, or driving around the new facilities. Continue reading “News: Edmonton’s Bike Network Opens”
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.”
(May 29, 2017) The “Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program” (OMCCP) was announced today, deepening the province’s commitment to making it easier for commuters and families to get around by bike. In this year’s tranche of the multi-year program, the province is investing $50 million from its carbon market to fund this and other new initiatives that support commuter cycling infrastructure. The OMCCP will provide eligible municipalities with funding to build more bike lanes and other cycling infrastructure, or enhance existing infrastructure. This investment will help promote safety for cyclists and make cycling more comfortable and appealing for daily commutes and other frequent trips.
Of note for Brockville:
Only municipalities with a current cycling plan are eligible. Brockville does not have a current transportation plan, active transportation plan, or cycling plan. These were committed in the Official Plan, yet motions to move them forward have been defeated more than once at Council.
OMCC program funding may be used to develop a cycling plan, with up to 80% of the cost covered.
OMCC program funding may be used to develop cycling facilities, with up to 80% of the cost covered.
Program applications are open June 5th, with a deadline of August 18th.
This program is a follow-on to the Ontario Municipal Cycling Infrastructure Program under which Brockville is receiving $325,000 for projects currently underway. (Read here)
See the Ontario announcement here.
See OMCCP details here.
“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.
A recent editorial in KingstonRegion.com outlines the process and plans for Bath Rd in Kingston, one of this region’s Bicycle Friendly Communities (which also include Belleville, Cornwall, Ottawa and Mississippi Mills). As the editorial notes, “…cutting one lane from the diet of motorists will not only extend Kingston’s waterfront cycling trail but make this west-end section of Bath Road safer for all users. ‘There’s too much speeding, too many collisions, totally inhospitable to pedestrians and all but the most experienced cyclists.’” Read the editorial here.
As reported previously here, Belleville is a recent recipient of Share The Road’s “Bicycle Friendly Community” designation. This city of 49,000, divided like Brockville by the 401 and railroads, has a city council that understands and supports the economic business case for making the city more walk and bike friendly. The cycling facilities in their active transportation plan are being implemented at a quick pace. An article in the Intelligencer describes the current activity underway and the support that the plan is receiving. Also of note is the environmental study conducted for the city by their regional Health Unit. Among other things it is one of the few studies that has used the World Health Organization’s economic modelling to quantify and monetize the health benefits of small numbers of increased cyclists and activity in a small city.
Read the Intelligencer article here.
The Health Unit’s study can be found here (pdf).
The Brockville cycling advisory committee, at its regular meeting in City Hall on Thursday May 10th at 5 p.m., will review the outcome of discussions for a holistic view of the cycling network that best fits Brockville’s neighbourhoods north of the 401. For background, please see the Brockville FAQs postings, including the report (pdf) unanimously approved by City Council in December 2015, and a revised work plan for the northern part of the cycling network later adopted by the committee.
As a gentle reminder, the cycling advisory committee is a formal Committee of Council that was established by unanimous vote of Council late in 2010. The committee’s terms of reference mandate that it advise Council and staff on ways to fulfill the commitments Council has made to residents through the Official Plan and other programs.
A brief history and context as well as a full discussion of the north-end cycling network is provided in the PDF document below, which is part of the agenda package for next week’s meeting. Anyone wishing to help support the committee in moving this forward is invited to attend the meeting, or contact them [this author will pass along messages].
Save the date! The 4th annual Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summary will take place in Carleton Place on May 31st and June 1st. This annual event is a great place to learn about what’s happening in active transportation across the province and here in our region. Of special note this year is the number of significant provincial announcements including the provincial cycling network, the provincial cycle tourism strategy, a five-year commitment of provincial funding for cycling infrastructure and more.
Perhaps you’re a downtown business person, who wants to discover the economic potential of pedestrian and cycle friendly communities? Or a town planner, or staff person, wanting to learn best practice techniques for building a healthier town? Maybe you’re a resident that wants to be able to get around your community more easily and safely, on foot or on a bike. Come learn about simple concepts that make towns healthier, more vibrant, and stronger economically.
See here for more details including the agenda as it gets finalized.
It’s most evident at public meetings, where typically only the polarized show up. On one end of the spectrum are the few who are “confident cyclists”, content to tackle any street anytime. While no more than 1% of even a bike friendly community, their voices are generally ignored as those of a fringe element.
On the other end of the spectrum, public meetings are often overwhelmed with those opposed who come with strident arguments and misinformation showing their street is better left untouched, as unsafe as they might claim it is. Intimidation tactics are often used to push people to sign petitions. Municipal councillors are deluged with phone calls and email that’s downright nasty in tone and content. Sometimes, outright deceit is used, for example, meeting with the fire chief and learning that bike lanes pose no problem for emergency response, and then running ads and soliciting petition signatures based on the assertion that bike lanes will slow emergency response and cost lives.
The risk of course is that municipal councils be swayed by these vocal minorities, avoiding conflict, under-serving the majority of residents, and leaving the community languishing in the rearguard of economic progress.
In between those poles, however, lie the majority of the population who are “interested, but concerned”. Research repeatedly shows that this group will rarely attend a public meeting, wants to have the choice to ride a bike more for everyday getting around, or for recreation, and will shy away from having to mix with motorized traffic.
Being informed by this evidence from many municipal studies, the Brockville cycling advisory committee adopted as one of its design principle:
Everyday Cycling – The segment of the population targeted by the network is first and foremost the “everyday” cyclist – those people who would like to bike recreationally to start, perhaps with friends and family, and then venture to use their bike for everyday trips around town for appointments, work, school, shopping and visiting. Research shows this group is eager yet cautious – reluctant to mix with motorized traffic – and holds the greatest latent demand. Safety for all ages, all abilities is considered. The network will also serve, but is not specifically designed for, those comfortable with and skilled at mixing with traffic on Brockville’s busier roads.
Following the research and case studies, is an article posted on Planetizen by public engagement strategist Dave Biggs of MetroQuest, “The Wisdom of Engaging Nervous Cyclists“. He outlines the extensive outreach that Toronto did to engage people in that largely silent and less heard middle group. The results were outstanding and unequivocal, leading to design and plans much further reaching than might otherwise have happened.
“It was clear to the City of Toronto that engaging less confident cyclists that make up 60% of the population, yet seldom come to community meetings, might be the key to dramatic mode shifts in the city.”
And summarizing the results, “It’s useful to note that without careful consideration to the voices of the less confident cyclists, the results of the community engagement would have pointed to infrastructure suited to the 1% of the population who are already confident cyclists since they are highly engaged. Naturally it’s important to meet the needs of confident cyclists. By also accommodating those on the fence, planners can open up a massive opportunity for change.”
And an analogy worth keeping in mind, “A city without separated bike lanes and off-street cycling paths may be like a swimming pool with no shallow end. It’s fine for confident swimmers but intimidating for novices.”