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.
Matt Pender’s piece in The Star, talking about the success of Toronto’s Bloor St bicycle facilities, reminds us once again that when we build cycling facilities that serve the majority, we’re not serving the already-committed minority who would call themselves cyclists. Rather, we are targeting the nearly two-thirds of people who occasionally ride a bike and will eagerly do so more often when they feel safe. Indeed, designing for the “everyday cyclist” always results in a large uptake of cycling activity. The growth is entirely from the cohort of “people who ride a bike”. This busts the myth of the few remaining anti-laners who proclaim, “We don’t need bike lanes; there are no cyclists on the street.” The evidence is clear. Build it and people will ride. Read Matt’s article here.
“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.
Ontario drivers who put others at risk, especially those walking or cycling, risk losing their privilege to drive, paying much steeper fines, facing jail time, and earning higher demerit points that come with years of higher insurance premiums. Of special note, convictions for distracted driving will incur escalating penalties up to a 30 day license suspension, $3,000 fine and 6 demerit points for 3rd conviction. Failing to stop at a pedestrian crosswalk, crossover or school crossing will earn you a $1,000 fine and four demerit points. Continue reading “Ontario Introducing Tougher Penalties For Bad Driving”
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.
One doesn’t need to spend much time cycling around Brockville anywhere near parked cars to quickly learn that most car drivers are pretty lazy when it comes to checking for oncoming traffic, including those on bikes, before opening their car door and potentially dooring someone.
Their are times when segments of our multi-use trails get quite busy and it’s wise to walk your wheels. There are also some places where wheels are not to be ridden at any time, for the safety of people of all ages, all abilities.
While the current sign in the Tunnel (upper left, above) suggests you can ride at walking speed, the Tunnel Committee and Cycling Advisory Committee agreed over a year ago that cycling in the tunnel would be restricted for a number of reasons:
People walking, especially families with young children, are distracted by the lights, paying attention to the tunnel walls, taking care to avoid tripping on the dark curb, and quite often, looking up!
Even when riding a bike at walking speed, maneuverability in the tunnel is quite limited; brushing a tire against the dark curb or a handlebar against the wall could easily lead to a fall and injury – for you and others.
The Tunnel is often busy and best enjoyed at a slow walk.
So please, when visiting the Tunnel, “Walk your Wheels”. That includes your bike, your unicycle, your scooter, and your skateboard.
There are a few other places where riding a bicycle is expressly prohibited as well, even if not signed. These include the sidewalks along King Street downtown, the Brock Trail walk around Blockhouse Island, and the Brock Trail boardwalk along the River in Hardy Park.
Visiting Downtown Brockville on an “open streets” day when King Street is blocked to vehicles? Walk your Wheels – riding through a crowd of meandering families begs calamity.
At all other times on the Brock Trail, generally accepted trail etiquette applies:
Those walking have the right-of-way
When on wheels, yield to those walking
Keep to the right so others can pass; yes, that includes when walking your dog
When walking your dog, shorten the leash when passing or being passed
When riding your bike, unicycle, scooter, blades or skateboard, ding your bell or call out to those you’re about to pass, e.g. “Passing on your left!”
when riding, keep speed slow – below 20 km/h, and slower when nearing people walking.
Please also note that none of the restrictions on wheels apply to those using mobility assistance devices.
Let’s act together to make sure our shared pathways remain attractive, comfortable and safe for those of all ages and all abilities.
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.
Just published by New York City’s Department of Transportation is a comprehensive study and analysis of 20 years worth of cycling data. Adding to and reinforcing similar studies in other large North American cities, this study confirms both the “safety in numbers” effect as well as the risk reductions of well-designed cycling infrastructure.
The telling metric is “KSI” – the number of cyclists killed or severely injured in traffic. In a nutshell, cycling numbers grew by 162% while KSI dropped by nearly half. Said another way, the rate of KSI/100 million trips dropped from 1,072 to 292, a decline of 73%. Notably, only 11% of KSI occur on roads with cycling facilities.
The lessons learned in NYC add to the body of evidence showing that:
the implementation of cycling facilities, especially protected facilities, dramatically reduces risks to those cycling.
the the reduction of risk is both real and, more importantly, perceived, which in turn encourages large growth in cycling from the “interested but concerned” cohort.
Higher numbers of people on bicycles induces a “safety in numbers” effect due to aggregate visibility and overall traffic calming.
Small cities simply don’t have the frequency of incidents and populations to do meaningful studies like this. Yet, we can learn from these lessons shown repeatedly in larger centres.
Still puzzled by the sharrows on Water Street in downtown Brockville?
The 200m short stretch between Home and Broad is narrow, signed at a max of 40 km/h, and part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail through town. The application of sharrows on the short stretch is a guide to those driving and cycling, about how to share the road safely and responsibly.
The illustration above, copyright and courtesy of Bikeyface, shows quite nicely what sharrows are all about. They are generally described in traffic manuals and consumer guides as a shared lane marking that:
Indicates that, as in the illustration above, the lane is too narrow to be shared side-by-side and single file is appropriate.
Reminds those driving that bicycles are vehicles on the road and entitled to use the whole lane when conditions warrant.
Reminds those cycling that on a narrow road, the safest position is to “take the lane”.
Those driving also need to keep in mind that when passing someone on a bike, a minimum of 1 m clearance is stipulated in the Highway Traffic Act. That means passing using the oncoming lane, only if it’s clear.
That very short stretch of Water Street has blind corners at Home, St. Andrew, Apple and Broad streets. Be a good neighbour, slow down and share the road responsibly.