The Social Determinants Of Exercise

In Brockville we have committed volunteer groups  and committees of council, and we have an activity-hungry populace. Yet as long as we have a city council with a passive-aggressive stance on becoming walk-friendly and bike-friendly (and age-friendly and youth-friendly), we will make little progress.

“If we want healthier communities, we must make it easier for individuals to feel good about physical activity in the context of their own lives. We are more likely to walk to services in our community if we have food security and appropriate shoes. We are more likely to attempt a new activity if we have the literacy and information centre to understand it better. We are more likely bike to work if we feel safe and comfortable in accessing our route. We are more likely to comply with exercises when values and promotions of our community support this.

“The evidence shows us behaviour stems from the social, the economic and the political, much more so than from the personal.”

Read this article about the social determinants of exercise.

The Push For Lower Residential Speed Limits Gains Traction

“residential streets are where families go for walks, where neighbours greet and chat with each other, and where kids ride their bikes to school and play games. If these are indeed legitimate uses for streets, its time that we recognize this, by humanizing the speed of vehicle movement along these roadways.”

Read about the trends and understand the rationale through this article.

Productive Ways To Engage In Building A Better Community

Getting a Response From Local Leaders

This post is for anyone who might feel at times that voting doesn’t matter or that there isn’t much you can do to influence how things happen in your community. There is a myriad of ways of getting involved in making a difference. This article from Strongtowns nicely enumerates a range of approaches. Of note, the author also points out three commonly-seen approaches that do not work and only serve to drive negativity.
Read the article here.

A Dozen Good Reasons For Developing An Active Transportation Plan

Facilitated workshops educate, inform, and build community consensus.

A dozen weeks ago Brockville City Council voted to turn a long history of unfulfilled promises into a commitment to develop an active transportation plan. That initiated a contract with MTO to receive $183,000 of funding for cycling projects on the condition that the city develop and approve an active transportation plan. The city also entered into a $60,000 contract with an engineering consulting firm to lead the development of that plan, with $48,000 of the cost coming from the provincial grant and $12,000 of city capital earmarked for the cycling advisory committee’s projects.

There were many good reasons for undertaking this approach, all discussed at that council meeting. One of the factors was the opportunity to tap a subsequent three years of provincial cycling funding, an opportunity killed by the incoming provincial government. At a recent meeting of the Finance, Administration & Operations standing committee, committee members overrode Council’s decision by asking that a hold be put on the process of developing the active transportation plan.

As a reminder to council candidates for the upcoming municipal election, there are many good reasons for developing and implementing an active transportation plan. While the benefits of becoming more bike and walk friendly are widely understood, accepted and in evidence everywhere, the benefits of going through the process of developing the plan are often overlooked. With that in mind, here’s a brief summary of “A Dozen Good Reasons For Developing An Active Transportation Plan”.

A Dozen Good Reasons For Completing An Active Transportation Plan - 2018

Discover L & A Ride

Gather some friends, hop on your bikes and enjoy the “2018 Discover L & A Ride” on Saturday, September 22. The 58 km route begins and ends at MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Company in the village of Bath. The picturesque route leads you along quiet paved roads that overlook the water’s edge and authentic Eastern Ontario landscapes.

You’ll hear live music, tour historic sites, sample local wine and cider, and enjoy an ice-cold glass of craft beer at the end of the ride. It’s going to be an unforgettable day of cycling in Lennox & Addington!  Register now at the event website here.

The County of Lennox & Addington was the first county in Eastern Ontario to adopt a pave shoulders policy for all county roads over a decade ago. The objective was safer roads for all, development of the cycle tourism sector to draw visitors north from the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, and to save taxpayers money through road maintenance operational savings. Success on all counts!

For more information on cycling routes in L & A County, visit their website here.

Bike Helmet – Helping When Least Expected

A fair number of adults don’t think a bike helmet is needed when going for a “leisurely ride down the path”. You might want to rethink that. The owner of the helmet pictured here was enjoying a leisurely ride on a paved waterfront trail in Burlington when he was caught in a sudden rain shower. Swerving to avoid a branch felled by a gust, his front tire skidded out and he went down hard. Injuries included broken bones, big bruises, and road rash. Yet the helmet did its job by absorbing the impact, as evidenced by the bashed outer shell and big cracks in the foam liner. Potentially catastrophic head injury was avoided.

Helmets are easy to replace;  your head is not – wear your helmet. Always!

Building the Cycling City – The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality

Book launch in Ottawa, August 29th.

“Around the world, countries marvel at the Netherland’s impressive cycling culture and infrastructure while an insidious “that would never work here” attitude prevents real change from happening. But the Dutch overcame many of the same challenges as other car-clogged countries, and their story is an important model for moving the rest of the world toward a more human-scale, bike-friendly future.”
Continue reading “Building the Cycling City – The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality”

Support For Protected Bike Lanes Soars In Toronto

A new survey by EKOS reveals that Torontonians of all ages, urban and suburban, support protected bike lanes. Toronto now mirrors other cities large and small who are further along the active transportation journey. Initial cycling infrastructure projects often meet strident resistance from those whose worldview is threatened, as they did in Toronto. However, when the infrastructure is well designed and implemented, widespread public support invariably climbs quickly (and the world does not go apocalyptic). This survey measures how fast that has happened.

When EKOS asked about protected bike lanes, which separate cyclists from cars using curbs, posts or planters, the results were emphatic — 82 per cent in favour. No matter where they live, and irrespective of age or income, most residents support bike lane construction. The findings are consistent with a 2017 Angus Reid survey that found 80 per cent of Torontonians support a “safe network of bicycle lanes.”

The new poll puts clichés to rest. This is not just a young person’s issue; EKOS found bike lanes enjoy the backing of 79 per cent of those 55 years and older. It’s not an issue only for people with modest means; 85 per cent of residents with annual income of $120,000 or more endorse the lanes. Perhaps most significant, 75 per cent of those whose main mode of transport is the automobile support bike lanes.

There is no doubt at all that when Brockville drags itself past the car-centric paradigm into the current age of active transportation enlightenment, similar perspectives will prevail.

Read the article in the Toronto Star here.

The Art Of The Stroll

Here’s a beautifully written essay on “the art of the stroll”.

Walking is a slow and porous experience. The words we use to describe it—meandering, sauntering, strolling—have their own leisurely and gentle cadence and suggest a sort of unhurried enjoyment. But to walk is also to be vulnerable: it forces us into physical interaction with surrounding streets, homes, and people. This can delay us, annoy us, even put us in danger. But it connects us to community in a way that cars never can.

Read the essay here.

Organized Sport Predisposes Kids To Free Play

“Parents who fear that kids in organized sport spend less time on just-for-fun activities can take heart in a new study by researchers at McMaster University and the University of Toronto.

“Not only did the study find those kids embraced free play, it found they generally engaged in more physical activity on their own than those who were not in organized sport.

“Lead author John Cairney, a professor at U of T’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, says the findings debunk commonly held fears that structured sport comes at the expense of free play.

“He suspects that’s because children who are naturally inclined to enjoy organized sport are simply active kids.

“But he says it could also be because organized sport teaches the fundamental motor, psychological and social skills that kids need for unsupervised activities such as a pickup game of basketball or playing tag after school.

“The study followed 2,278 children from Grades 4 to 8. Researchers also looked at whether age, sex and socio-economic status played a role.”

Read the article here.  Retrieve the study here.

Cycling Is The Healthiest Way To Get Around

A recent article in treehugger.com describes and links to two recently published massive studies that once again confirm and add to the body of evidence that cycling is the healthiest way to get around and that investing in ways to encourage and allow more people to make the choice to ride a bike more often yields a large payback to society.

Continue reading “Cycling Is The Healthiest Way To Get Around”

What Makes A Place Walk-Friendly?

Photo courtesy Brockville Tourism (by David Mackie)

While we’ve posted several articles on walkability and its benefits (most recently for example here, here, and here), it remains difficult for many to describe just what a more walk-friendly community would look like and feel like. Here’s an article that describes walkability in terms of safety/risk, distances, convenience, and comfort. In addition to obvious risk mitigation measures like additional formal pedestrian crossings in Brockville, the article reasonably describes the sort of consideration that would go into the formulation of an active transportation plan for our city.

Read more here.

Torontonians Overwhelmingly Support Cycling Facilities

“More than 80 per cent of Toronto residents support building protected bike lanes, a new poll finds. The support is highest among those living in the core, with nearly nine in 10 people in the former pre-amalgamation city of Toronto wanting the lanes. But the trend was also visible in the suburbs, including Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York, with more than 70 per cent of respondents expressing support in every region of the city, according to the survey results provided exclusively to CBC Toronto.”

“The random survey of 800 Toronto residents, conducted by Ekos Research Associates earlier this month, also found more than 75 per cent of people who primarily drive to get around the city are also supporters of protected bike lanes”

The survey results are incredibly positive and show even stronger support than surveys done over the last couple of years.

It’s finally sinking in. Despite labels like “pedestrians”, “cyclists”, and “drivers”, more understand that we’re all just people – friends, neighbours, family, all ages and all abilities – trying to move around safely regardless of choice of mode of transportation at any given time.

So let’s listen up and learn, and help each other get home safely.

Read the CBC article here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/bike-lane-poll-toronto-1.4766745

Vision Zero Successes In NYC

On Macombs Rd in the Bronx, redesign led to 41% fewer crashes with injuries. (Photo: NYC Dept of Transportation)

Large cities across North America are trying to come to grips with the rising tide of injuries and fatalities of vulnerable road users. In Toronto, from a health perspective, it can be described as an epidemic, worse than SARS.. New York City however stands as an example of steadily and successfully moving towards Vision Zero.  This past year, 2017, was the fourth consecutive year of declining traffic fatalities, with the fewest New Yorkers lost to traffic collisions since 1910.   As Haley Easto reports in an article from the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, the lessons from New York City are clear and straightforward to adopt in Toronto or any other city.

Why does this matter to Brockville? Our City continues to struggle to become age friendly, youth friendly, walk friendly, and bicycle friendly, all components of an integrated set of lifestyle attractors as we compete to attract and retain talent, families, and new businesses. As a late starter and laggard in this competition we have the advantage of being able to observe and harvest the best practices from other places.
That includes Complete Streets and Vision Zero.

Read the article on lessons from NYC here.

 

Sudbury Joins The Complete Street Crowd

Cover image – Toronto Centre For Active Transportation

With Sudbury adopting a “complete streets” policy, residents join the 85% of Ontarians who live in a municipality where complete streets are either provincially mandated or have been adopted by local Council. As in other cities with a complete streets approach, public roads are designed and reconfigured to safely serve all members of the public – all ages, all abilities, all modes of transportation, for purpose or for pleasure.

Brockville is not a complete streets community – in fact it’s instructive to ask a candidate for Council if they know what a complete street is.
Read more about Sudbury here.
Learn more about complete streets here.

Proposal For Open Water Swimming Area

Active Brockville encourages all forms of active living, from incorporating active modes of transportation into everyday living, to active recreational and competitive pursuits. An open water swimming area at St. Lawrence Park is currently in the proposal stage. This would be an area suitable for open water training or recreational swimming, protected from motorized boat traffic. If you are interested in seeing the draft proposal, helping to develop it further, or helping to champion this initiative, please send a “comment” with your email address (your email information will not be exposed) and I’ll be in touch.   …alan

Protected Intersections Gaining Attention

As cities increasingly move to make streets safer for all users, intersections often remain as the last challenge to be addressed. Increasingly, “protected intersection” designs adapted from Europe are gaining favour. This article from the Toronto Star describes the design elements, with a link to an educational video. Read more here.

Improved Western Terminus Of St. Lawrence Rec Trail Nears Completion

Click to enlarge

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.)

New western end of St. Lawrence Rec Trail along 1000 Islands Parkway corridor – photos by Paul Scott

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.