Brock Trail Update To FAO/Council

Bridge over Butlers Creek

At it’s regular monthly meeting today, Brockville’s “Finance Admin, Operations” standing committee received an update from John Taylor, chair of the Brock Trail committee, reviewing progress to date in completing the trail. While there is lots of work left to do, progress is significant, as anyone walking or rolling around town knows. Of special note, for every $1 spent by the city, the Brock Trail committee has raised an additional $2.46 from grants, donations, and in-kind. To date, expenditures total approximately $1.4million, the equivalent of 28 “jobs created” (a.k.a. “FTE-years”) as tallied by economic programs. The update is attached below.

2017 07 18 Brock Trail Update

An Active Transportation Strategy For Canada

WalkBikeRunRoll

The push is on for a national active transportation strategy. Currently, 21 million Canadians, or about 58%, live in a region where transportation and development projects and practices conform to policies guided by active transportation plans, cycling plans, walk/bike/age/youth-friendly plans, Vision Zero initiatives, or complete streets plans. In fact, government funding programs are starting to become contingent on those plans being in place and current.

Now is the time to bring our country under a consistent set of practices and guidelines, at the same time enfolding and bringing into the current century those municipalities who to date have ignored the mounting evidence on benefits, including the clear economic necessity of stepping up to compete on a level playing field. Follow the links for more information.

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.

Ontario Passes Legislation to Keep Kids Safe on Local Roads

 

From today’s announcement:
Ontario passed legislation today to protect the most vulnerable users of local roads, including children, seniors, pedestrians and cyclists.

The Safer School Zones Act gives municipalities more tools to fight speeding and dangerous driving in their communities, including:

  • Automated speed enforcement (ASE) technology, which will help catch speeders. Municipalities will have the option to use this technology in school zones and also in community safety zones on roads with speed limits below 80 km/h.
  • The ability to create zones with reduced speed limits to decrease the frequency and severity of pedestrian-vehicle collisions in urban areas.
  • A streamlined process for municipalities to participate in Ontario’s effective Red Light Camera program without the need for lengthy regulatory approval.

Municipalities, police boards and road safety advocates from across Ontario have asked for these tools to help keep roads safe, particularly in areas with children and seniors. With the passage of this new legislation, municipalities will now have the option to implement road safety measures in a way that makes sense in their local communities.

Ontario’s roads have consistently ranked among the safest in North America, and these new tools will help make communities even safer for all vulnerable road users.

Read the full announcement, with links to further information, here.

How Your Suburb Can Make You Healthier

photo from Momentum Mag

Communities across the continent are realizing the health, social, and economic benefits of designing neighbourhoods and cities, large and small, that encourage people to move themselves more often. This article explores the changes that are underway as paradigms continue to shift rapidly, and how different designs meet the needs of different types of activities. One compelling aspect of this article is the emphasis placed on the need for changes in thinking with respect to zoning, community design and political will. Read more here.

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.

Designing For Everyday Cycling

 

Herkimer bike lane
Barry Gray,The Hamilton Spectator

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.

Categorization of cyclists

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.”

 

Two Words For Better Cities: Pedestrians First!

Photo courtesy Brockville Tourism (by David Mackie)
Photo courtesy Brockville Tourism (by David Mackie)

Here’s a thorough exploration of making cities more livable, from the Knight Foundation, starting from the simple principle of “pedestrians first”.  The article explores several pillars: walkability, bikeability, public spaces and public transit – all key to building more vibrant communities. Read more here.

And here’s a FastCo article on the same report.

News: Active School Travel Continues to Decline

ASRS1As reported by Metrolinx in their quinquennial review of school travel habits, active travel to school continues to decline.  This bodes poorly for kids’ current and future physical and mental health, as well as their academic performance.  Read article here.

In Lanark, Leeds & Grenville, a partnership among UCDSB, the Health Unit and various police forces, school parent groups and communities is helping to grow momentum around active and safe routes to school.
Read more here.

Toward A More Age Friendly Brockville

IMG_1269cmpThere are various initiatives in Brockville that have a common goal of creating an environment that’s conducive to active, healthy living for all ages.  Groups supporting “youth friendly”, “age friendly”, “walk friendly”, “bike friendly” and “safe communities” are but a few of the many efforts underway.

The Age Friendly Brockville group just launched their website and an initial survey to gather input from the community. You can learn more at the website here (including the survey).

As an aside, seniors are the fastest growing segment amongst those choosing to cycle, for both purpose and for pleasure! That’s why our design target for the Brockville Cycling Network is those aged 8 to 80.