How Much Excess Parking Capacity Is Needed?

Typical parking supply and demand on Laurier Blvd.

It’s somewhat absurd to complain about free street parking being reduced from an oversupply of 20x maximum observed demand down to 10x. Yet that’s the core of the anti-laners’ grievance on Laurier Blvd.     Continue reading “How Much Excess Parking Capacity Is Needed?”

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.

Serving “invisible cyclists” too

In our community of Brockville, like most cities, especially post-industrial centres struggling to rebuild, we have a socio-demographic cohort of those living with low income. These are the “invisible cyclists”, those for whom walking and cycling is a necessity rather than a choice. For various reasons they often don’t have an opportunity to participate in surveys, attend public information sessions, or have their voices heard in forums discussing better choices in safely getting around town for work, school, shopping and appointments.

Invisible cyclists don’t travel in packs, wearing brightly coloured Lycra outfits. They likely aren’t seen leisurely cruising the Brock Trail either. Rather, they are to be found at dusk or dawn, often on a cast-off bike, headed to or from work. Or coming home from shopping, or a few bags of groceries hung from the handlebars. Easy transportation and the ability to carry packages is an often overlooked yet simple factor in food equity.

One of the considerations in designing a network of cycling routes is that it be safe, convenient, and easily navigable by those of All Ages & Abilities. A cycling network that includes as key destinations workplaces, grocery stores, pharmacies, schools and so on helps to serve invisible cyclists.

Designing for “everyday cycling”, one of the design principles of Brockville’s nascent network, is an important aspect of supporting social equity that must not be overlooked.

Other cycling-related approaches which address social inequity around basic transportation could include installing a small bike share with four or five bikes at Community Hub locations, providing an easier way to get to and from the grocery store than walking. Another common approach is supporting the establishment and operation of a bike repair co-op or a “bicycle recycle” shop.

For a great article on invisible bikers, read here.
For a deeper, evidence-based exploration of how social equity factors into the benefits and challenges of active transportation, see this paper (pdf) from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

Our Unsustainable Automobile-Centric Economy Is Cracking

Stuck “in” traffic? You are traffic!

An insightful academic piece published by the World Economic Forum explores the failing economy of our automobile centric lifestyle. The average private automobile in Canada costs $9,000 per year to own and operate and sits idle 95% of the time, and in Brockville carries 1.1 people on average. Our infatuation with automobiles kills people at the same time as it is killing our planet, and the author contends we are on the cusp of massive changes.

Continue reading “Our Unsustainable Automobile-Centric Economy Is Cracking”

Bike Friendly Communities More Age Friendly

An article published by the AARP under their “Livable Communities – Great Places for All Ages” banner enumerates ten ways that bicycle friendly communities are good for everyone. Yes, even those who may never get on a bike. While this may be yet another great summary of the ever-mounting evidence in support of the social, health and economic benefits, it goes a step further by linking the benefits to making a city more age friendly. Brockville, a city that to date has failed to be designated as bike friendly, walk friendly, age friendly or youth friendly could use some of this common sense. Read the article here.

Brockville Moves Closer To North-End Cycling Network

Click to enlarge

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].

BCAC CycleNet Discussion Paper, May 2017

Rx For Active Mobility

Herkimer bike lane. Barry Gray, The Hamilton Spectator

This article from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment describes their toolkit: “Prescribing Active Travel for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet: A Toolkit for Health Professionals – to help health professionals become advocates of active transportation and transit with their patients and in their communities. The toolkit is designed with five stand-alone modules so people can focus on the ones of most interest to them. Module 1 describes the health, environmental and social benefits of active travel. Module 2 provides strategies to motivate patients to use active travel. Module 3 explains the links between active transportation and community design. Module 4, designed for health professionals in southern Ontario, focuses on Ontario’s Growth Plan and how it impacts active travel. Module 5 provides strategies for promoting change in one’s community.”
Read the article and download the toolkit here.

Evidence Says We’re All Scofflaws

“According to a certain perspective that seems to hold sway among local newspaper columnists [and writers of letters to editors], bicyclists are reckless daredevils who flout the road rules that everyone else faithfully upholds. But the results of a massive survey published in the Journal of Transport and Land Use point to a different conclusion — everyone breaks traffic laws, and there’s nothing extraordinary about how people behave on bikes.”

This isn’t the first research effort to reach this conclusion, and it likely won’t be the last.

Read the article here, and download the study here (pdf).

Making AT Work In Small, Rural Communities

Temporary “pop-up” traffic calming demonstration – Haliburton Communities In Action Committee

“Small, rural communities have different realities than their urban counterparts, especially when it comes to active transportation. Most have limited financial resources, but extensive road infrastructure to maintain. Rural geography generally means large distances and low density. The prevailing attitudes regarding transportation may be quite focused on cars. Finally, most evidence on AT is urban based, leaving a gap in knowledge.”

Continue reading “Making AT Work In Small, Rural Communities”

Hamilton Prepares To Learn Licensing Lessons

Conceptual illustration, Pulaski Bridge protected cycle track (Image Credit: Brownstoner Queens)
Conceptual illustration, Claremont protected cycle track (Image Credit: Brownstoner Queens)

As reported many times, the notion of licensing bicycles seldom gains traction. Despite that, most cities have a councilor or two who don’t pay attention to what happens in other cities, or perhaps simply look for a convenient soapbox. From the report in The Hamilton Spectator, we’re about to see a couple of councilors there learn the lesson too.
Read more here.

A Lasting Legacy Of Licensing Losses

cyclingcrowdAcross the land, as active transportation gains steadily restore publicly-funded roads to safer use by the general public, regardless of mode of movement chosen at any given time, someone, somewhere, is asking why licences aren’t required, either for bikes or those who ride them. Over decades, a lasting legacy of articles and council decisions have honed the responses to a simple set.  Many cities do offer bike registration for theft recovery (Brockville being one, thanks to the Kinsmen Club), and some cities have bicycle licensing statutes that are largely ignored by all. However, they are the exception.  Continue reading “A Lasting Legacy Of Licensing Losses”

More On The “Free Rider” Myth

sdotHere’s an interesting article in MomentumMag, a Canadian publication, by Elly Blue, an American author, drawing on Canadian, US and European research (road funding is pretty much the same everwhere), that helps illuminate who really pays for roads.  It turns out, no surprise, that we all pay for the public roads that move people and goods – primarily through property and income taxes. It also turns out, no surprise again for this well-documented topic, that every kilometer traveled on foot or by bike or transit has a net economic and social benefit, while every kilometer driven has a net economic and social cost. While we all benefit from a safe network of public roads, those who only drive pay far less than they consume.

Next time you’re confronted by someone claiming that “cyclists need to pay their fair share”, show them this (or any number of academic studies), and ask them for their supporting evidence.
Read article here.

Building Social Equity Through Active Mobility

Commuters in Portland OR, Rick Bowmer AP/Photo
Commuters in Portland OR, Rick Bowmer AP/Photo

Across the USA, “a new generation of advocates is pushing for diversity and inclusion to sit at the front of the [bicycling] movement and make social equity the primary goal.”  In Canada too, there’s a building wave of support for active mobility – walking, biking and transit – to provide safe and affordable transportation choices for those of all abilities – including ability to afford transportation. Remember, those living within constrained means pay property taxes too, and thus subsidize those who can afford to own and operate private vehicles. Read article here.

Funding Of Public Roads – Debunking The Myths

fullcostaccountingIn a followup to an earlier post highlighting just one of many studies examining the funding of public roads and the relative economic efficacy of different road uses, here’s a recent one that explains in simpler language.  While the article describes Toronto’s budgeting process, it’s the same anywhere in Canada (similar article here from Calgary).

On top of that, such reports often fail to do a “full cost accounting”, factoring in health and other societal costs. When this is done, the picture looks like that above, from this Vancouver report.

“So next time someone makes a point about how freeloading cyclists need to start paying for the roads they use, perhaps it’s worth mentioning to him or her that as a cyclist everyone shares in the costs already, and we can instead focus on what moves the most people efficiently.”

Fifty Shades Of Walkability Benefits

reasons-why-cities-should-fight-for-more-walkable-streets
Photo: Flickr user Loren Kerns

This is a great summary piece that lists fifty different reasons why cities of all sizes need to pay more attention to design that puts people, community and walkability, and moving people in a way that creates interaction, ahead of moving cars. The list covers the gamut from physical and population physical and mental health, to social community, to economic factors. Read more here.

Complete Streets Approaches For Rural Areas

shouldersA new backgrounder from Complete Streets for Canada examines the need to apply complete streets approaches to rural areas. This adds to the impetus for, among other things, a “paved shoulders” policy which has an easy business case, yet whose benefits go much further than dollars. “With higher road mortality rates and poorer health outcomes than their urban counterparts, rural areas in particular can benefit from safer roadways that encourage walking, cycling and other forms of active transportation.  Transportation equity is also critical, as those living without a vehicle in rural areas can face serious challenges of mobility in the absence of public transportation and safe walking and cycling routes.  On a larger scale, a Complete Streets approach can have economic benefits, by enlivening a rural main street or historic downtown. ” Read more here.

Driving responsibly…

BIKEPEDSAFE3-CHN-102314-HLL.JPG“Rather than contribute to a society where walking and biking around the city can feel like dodging bullets, or where children can’t walk to the neighbor’s house without an adult, be part of the solution. Drive safely, and encourage your friends to do the same. If you don’t, well, you might just kill someone.”  

The paradigm has irrevocably shifted from motorists being rulers of public roads, to an era in which Vision Zero is gaining ground, reverse onus is gaining precedence in civil suits, and speed limits are being reduced to favour more vulnerable road users in residential areas of many larger cities. Against this sea change, several articles have delivered blunt messages to those exhibiting more aggressive road behaviour.  This article is one of the more politely worded ones. Read article here.

[And for those of you whose blood pressure is rising, face is turning red, and are blurting, “But, But, But….”, read this too.]

 

Licensing Notion Is A Repeating Distraction

bikelicenseThe notion of licensing bikes has surfaced once again, this time in Toronto.  Some cities, like Toronto and Winnipeg, used to do this and abandoned the practice due to high costs and lack of tangible benefits. Still, every year the notion surfaces in a few cities, usually from back-seat politicians eager to make a mark yet not eager to do any homework first. As a preemptive play to dissuade any local thinking in this direction, here’s a helpful summary of why this idea is or should be a non-starter, from Cycle Toronto.  Read more here.

Is Ottawa Really Bike Friendly?

Vehicular assault and failure to yield, a.k.a. "right hook" underway on Laurier St in Ottawa.
Vehicular assault and failure to yield, a.k.a. “right hook” underway on Laurier St in Ottawa.

An interesting opinion piece by Ottawa Citizen columnist David Reevely asks whether that city is doing enough, fast enough, to be called bicycle friendly.  He points to that city’s current budget for cycling facilities as inadequate, especially when compared to other big cities.  Of course, from where we sit in Brockville, the anti-lanerville of Eastern Ontario, what Mr. Reevely calls inadequate we would call a nice problem to have. Read here.

The Real Cost Of Free Parking

freeparkingThis article from the Washington Post is yet another that explains how there is no such thing as “free parking”. In downtown Brockville, the complimentary parking is paid for by DBIA members who then recover the cost as part of their overhead expenses, that is, in prices charged for goods and services.  At big box stores, free parking has a cost that’s recovered from prices of groceries, hardware, clothing and so on.  This is yet another way that automobile-centricity in urban design and execution introduces social inequities. The solution?  Decouple the cost and charge for parking everywhere. Read more here.