People On Bikes Greatly Outnumber Cyclists

New parking-protected bike lane on Toronto’s Bloor St just prior to completion.

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.

Growth Of Active Transportation Explained To Autophiles

Churchill Ave in Ottawa – an award winning complete streets project

“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.

NYC Adds To Case Studies Of Success

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 Introducing Tougher Penalties For Bad Driving

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”

When It’s Wise To Walk Your Wheels

A variety of signage, ranging from polite reminders to harsh prescriptions.

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.

Yet More MD Support For Bike Lanes

Parking protected bike lane on Sherbrook in Winnipeg

A new group, Doctors for Safe Cycling is adding their voice through a website and Facebook page, to the call for streets to be safe for all ages, all abilities. They join the Canadian Medical Association, long an advocate for active transportation (policy paper, 2009, pdf), and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

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.

NYC Adds To Cycling Safety Research

 

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.

See newsletter article here.
See the study here.

Road Safety: Water St Sharrows

Artwork by Bikeyface, www.bikeyface.com 

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.

Reference: MTO Drivers Handbook

Revitalizing Toronto’s Streets

In recent years cyclists and pedestrians have been clamouring for more space for themselves on Toronto’s streets. (RANDY RISLING / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)

“Cities are their streets. Great cities are those with great streets. Other things matter, of course — parks, buildings, transit — but it’s streets that bring a city to life, that make it a place people choose to live, visit, work, play . . .” Click through here to see a wonderful piece on how Toronto’s streets are coming alive as they’re reclaimed to put people first.

Update: Brockville’s 401 Corridor Crossing

Looking south on the east side of Ormond St from Bramshot – reconstruction of the trail through the park

(June 15, 2017) Construction is progressing quickly on the active transportation link through Brockville’s 401 corridor. As described in earlier documents and shown in the diagram below, the link is a joint project between the Brockville cycling advisory committee and the Brock Trail committee. The link consists of sidewalks converted to boulevard trails, a pedestrian crossover at Bramshot, and a widening and resurfacing of the old trail through the Ormond Street Park. Expect this trail segment to be completed and open for use within a few weeks.

Once this segment and the new trail segment from Laurier to Centennial are completed, we’ll have an off-road trail route all the way from the waterfront to the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area.

Sketch of the 401 corridor crossing project (click to enlarge)
Looking north on the west side of Ormond St towards the 401. This will be overlaid with asphalt.
Looking south on Ormond St towards the 401. This will be overlaid with asphalt.

Driverless vehicles vs people

A skateboarder rides next to an electric driverless bus in Lyon, France. Photograph: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty

An article in the Guardian prompts with the provocative headline, “Street wars 2035: can cyclists and driverless cars ever co-exist?” However, in a more measured tone the article goes on to explore the challenges of designing systems for driverless vehicles that allow them to coexist safely with the unpredictability of people moving more naturally – walking, cycling, skateboarding, running, or those using using mobility-assist devices.  Continue reading “Driverless vehicles vs people”

“Advisory Cycling Lanes” Starting To Appear

(click to enlarge)

Popular in Europe for some time now,”advisory cycling lanes” are starting to be used in cities across the USA and Canada. The first advisory cycling lanes have appeared in Ottawa and are under discussion in Kitchener as well.

Advisory cycling lanes are designed for low volume, low speed, narrow streets and provide much better guidance than sharrows.

Expect to see discussion of advisory cycling lanes in Brockville as the cycling network plan looks to address streets in the older sections of town. In particular, advisory cycling lanes would be a good facility to use on Water Street between Broad St and Home St.

for a full explanation of advisory cycling lanes see the City of Ottawa’s website here.

CAPE Supports National Cycling Strategy

CAPE, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, has provided an extensive article on their website outlining their endorsement of a national cycling strategy for the diverse and far-reaching benefits that a more bicycle friendly Canada would provide for all. Read more here.

“A National Cycling Strategy is the holy grail of public health; the public policy the serves many public health goals with one investment. It is an investment that will pay for itself many times over in health care savings alone.”

Towards a Bike-Friendly Canada: A National Cycling Strategy Overview

Crossing Laurier Ave in Ottawa – Photo: Hans Moor

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.”

Bike paths: Why cities should focus on quality, not quantity

In this column from the Montréal Gazette, columnist Andy Riga interviews Dale Bracewell, Vancouver transportation planner, on that city’s strategic approach to focus on building quality cycling infrastructure that serves All Ages & Abilities (AAA) rather than just putting in kilometres of facilities that do not encourage the widest diversity of people to get out and bike more often.

The key to encouraging riders from 8 to 80, rookies to hardcore, inexperienced to confident, is the containment of motorized vehicles so that cycling traffic is separated. See the photo above, from the city of Vancouver, for a typical spectrum of cycling facilities from least to most encouraging.

As Dale says, “We were having some success with cycling but we were really still serving the person who already was choosing to cycle. Now we’re designing for children, for seniors, for new people cycling, for bike-share users.
It really shifted the way we approach cycling infrastructure. We’re not delivering as many bike-lane kilometres as we’re used to or compared to cities like Montreal. Now, as best we can, we design for people to be able to ride with their kids, or for a senior who still cycles or wants to, and for a person new to cycling.”

For the complete article please read here.

 

Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit – Agenda

The agenda is set for the 4th Annual Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit to be held May 31st and June 1st in Carleton Place. Of note in the agenda, which is provided below, are an update on provincial funding programs for municipalities, the provincial cycling network, the provincial cycle tourism strategy, and a presentation by the lead investigator for the public health report prepared for Belleville which showed strong financial incentive for that city’s recent decision to approve further implementation of bike lanes. For registration, see here.

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