Improvements to the western terminus of the St. Lawrence Recreational Trail along the 1000 Islands Parkway corridor are close to being completed. As reported here in May 2017, the original routing of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail between the Gananoque town limits and the start of the Rec Trail required those hiking or biking to take an risky route across multiple lanes of high-speed Parkway traffic.
The updated and improved routing connects the shared-use pathway’s previous end location all the way to County Road #2. (See diagram above, pictures below.)
Work on the trail bed and paving was completed just before last winter, painting has recently been completed, and signage updates were scheduled to be done this week.
The second phase of this work to be completed by MTO includes bike lanes along County Road #2 to the “Gates of Gananoque”, a curb cut at the crossing and signal lights on #2, some trailhead parking and washroom. With luck, some of this work will get started this fall.
Also under development by MTO are plans for the eastern terminus of the Trail at Brockmere Cliff Road. This will involve a formalized crossing of the Parkway, a new trail segment along the SE side of the Parkway, and a new trailhead incorporating vehicle parking and washroom.
This summer the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure bike tour will provide an opportunity for a brief opening ceremony for the new facilities at the #2 end of the Trail. Stay tuned for details.
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.”
If you will be walking, cycling, or driving on Québec roads, be aware that a number of updates have recently been enacted in the Highway Safety Code. The changes to road use regulations and accompanying fines and demerit points are fairly extensive. This article in the Montréal Gazette summarizes the changes, while all the detail can be found on the provincial website.
Two years ago, based on growing weight of evidence, Portland declared that by default all new bike lanes would be protected, that is, physically separated from motorized traffic, whenever possible. (Read here)
The evidence continues to mount not just in Portland but across North America that physically separating modes of transportation materially improves safety for all road users and provides a significant incentive for growth in cycling numbers. Portland’s response is to move to make protected bike lanes the standard and has identified more than 450 miles of city roads for upgrades. Read more here.
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.
MTO recently completed a major update and republished the Ontario Cycling Skills guide. It now provides a complete and current summary of how to ride and operate a bike and how to safely navigate Ontario’s roads. The pdf can be downloaded here.
“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.
“The evidence for why we should actively transport ourselves in the city is mounting, but there are some technicalities to work out. You want to get yourself around under your own steam, but where do you start? It can seem a bit daunting to change habits and possibly routes. Thankfully, we live in an era with lots of tools at our fingertips that can help us out.” And with that, a blogger from Calgary explains how she adopted more active ways of getting around the city with her kids and integrated that activity into everyday life. Read more here.
For a more complete how-to as you plan your transition to having more fun every day by walking and biking, check out Vélo Québec’s “ABC’s of Active Transportation“.
The latest newsletter from Green Communities Canada on Active School Travel highlights funding for community projects, an updated website, and updates on bike to school week, a seminar on air pollution hazards around drop-off zones, and more. Check out the newsletter here, where you can also subscribe for updates.
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.
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.
It’s Spring, and with Spring comes the annual round of Bike Summits to rejuvenate and re-stoke our interest in working for public roads that better serve the needs of the general public.
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.
A pedestrian crossover (PXO) is a signed and sometimes signal-lighted crossing of a road at a location that does not have a traffic light or stop sign to regulate through traffic flow. (MTO reference)
For those driving or cycling: When you see a pedestrian with intent to cross, which may be indicated by flashing lights, come to a complete stop. Remain stopped while people are in the PXO. You may proceed when the person walking has left the road.
For those walking: Press the beg button to activate the lights. Stand facing the crossing, optionally with arm pointing to cross the road. Wait for vehicular traffic to stop, then cross the road.
For those cycling along the trail: Get off your bike. See above “for those walking”. Riding across a crossover or crosswalk is illegal.
More PXO’s have been approved by Council and will be installed along the Trail at crossings on Henry St, St Paul St, Cedar St, Laurier Blvd at Bridlewood, Centennial Rd, and Perth St, with more to come in following years.
The two existing crossovers and those listed above are part of projects initiated and driven by the Brock Trail committee and cycling advisory committee working together. In 2018, the City will be undertaking an Active Transportation Plan which will then be approved and adopted by Council. The public workshops that will be part of the development of the plan will be the opportunity to come out and help identify the many other locations across the city where crosswalks and crossovers are needed.
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.
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.
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.