“People continually underestimate the number of cyclists using a given street, mainly because they are quiet, and don’t take up a lot of space,” claims the Eco-Counter’s North American Director, Jean-François Rheault. See how cycling traffic numbers are climbing in response to safer infrastructure like protected bike lanes. Vancouver one of the fastest growing cycling cities in the world
Around Ontario and further afield, mayors are responding to widespread residents’ calls for trails and safer roads for active mobility. They’re also acknowledging the economic competitive necessity. The result has been an increasing groundswell of activity in trails, cycling facilities, education and encouragement. As of May 2015, there were 28 Bicycle Friendly Communities that 60% of Ontarians call home.
“Many people believe that active transport modes (walking, cycling, and their variants, also called non-motorized or human-powered transport) have less right to use public roads than motorists, based on assumptions that non-motorized travel is less important than motorized travel, and active mode users pay less than their fair share of roadway costs. This report investigates these assumptions. It finds that active modes have legal rights to use public roads, that non-motorized travel plays unique and important roles in an efficient and equitable transport system, that motorists often benefit from pedestrian and cycling improvements, that motor vehicle use imposes external costs on active travel which creates demand for separated facilities, and because active modes impose
minimal roadway costs and pay general taxes that finance about half of roadway expenses they overpay their fair share of roadway costs.”
(Whose Road Is It, 2013, Victoria Transport Policy Institute) Download the report…
Using a mobile device for texting and talking is quickly becoming the leading factor in injuries incurred while walking, according to a recently published study using data from 2005 to 2010. While the article reveals some approaches that are novel and almost funny but for the injury-prone nature of the behaviour, they suggest that as with other things, role modelling is needed. Parents – teaching kids to “look both ways” is just the beginning! Read more here
“We found that significant infrastructure investment is needed to overcome this dampening effect of fears about cycling safety; that high quality changes to main roads and local streets are the best place to start for cities with low cycling and high car use; and that these investments can have benefits an order of magnitude greater than the costs if you get them right,” Read more
Much research has been done for the health and learning benefits of walking or cycling to school. It’s also shown that a significant “rush hour” traffic load is comprised of people driving kids to school, most often very short distances. Yet recently published research delves into the question of how harmful vehicle emissions are for young minds.
“Walkability is achieved at the scale of the neighborhood” the author of this article says, writing about many ways that neighbourhoods (and small cities!) can become more walkable, encouraging more people to walk more often. The benefits are diverse, including mental and physical health, social “community” and economic boost. Read more
Winnipeg, a city with much harsher winters than Brockville, recently added to the growing number of cities large and small that have seen positive response to cycling infrastructure. Like many cities setting down the path to a healthier community, many scoffed at the concept of latent demand. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.
“There’s no debating whether recruiting and retaining young talent is essential for communities to thrive in today’s knowledge-based economy. Studies suggest that the most successful cities and economic regions in the 21st century will be those that attract and retain young college graduates and are places they want to locate.”
“Growing evidence suggests that young people choose where they want to live largely on the lifestyle and amenities of those communities, and that they gravitate toward more walkable, bike-able and transit-friendly communities where lifestyles are less dependent on driving.”
In a move calculated to help reach their goal of 20% of all trips by bike by 2030, Portland has adopted a policy that protected bike lanes are the new default. The policy applies to all cycling facilities for all streets with an average daily traffic count of 3,000 motor vehicles or more.
In a prepared statement reported in the R&T today, opponents of the city’s cycling plan said, “We believe that bike paths off road are the way to go. That way, everyone will be safe.” The proposed plan would do just that – by turning a mostly-unused parking lane of Laurier into a protected bike lane which is separated from and fenced “off road” to cars. The opponents would seem to be acknowledging the evidence from across North America that protected bike lanes significantly reduce risk for those cycling, calm traffic, reduce risk for those driving, and encourage big uptakes in cycling activity.
Recently, someone has claimed that cities in Canada are taking out bike lanes! What’s the story there? Well, apart from cherry-picking incidents out of context, a review of the Canadian scene reveals that cycling infrastructure is growing in leaps and bounds on a net basis.
A common question about the protected bike lanes on Laurier Blvd is what will happen to the turning lanes at the intersection with Windsor Dr. Some are assuming that turning lanes would disappear, which is not correct. Laurier’s current configuration is actually quite accommodating – it’s a road that’s paved four lanes wide, but only has two travel lanes, making lots of room at intersections.
What happens to cycling facilities and the Brock Trail in the winter is a really good question!
Currently, the City has a priority/triage approach that relegates sidewalks and the Trail to a low priority. Generally, they’re cleared once work crews are available after higher priority corridors are addressed.
A reasonable question often asked is whether there are benefits from cycling infrastructure to anyone other than those few currently riding bikes.
While there are a number of well-demonstrated benefits, let’s focus this on Laurier Blvd. Laurier is an “urban corridor” in transportation parlance, yet it didn’t start out that way. In the beginning it wasn’t connected to either California or Stewart – it was a family-friendly neighbourhood residential street. Today, it carries neighbourhood traffic, through traffic between Stewart and California and emergency response traffic from the firehall, and is described by some as a “NASCAR” track. Continue reading “FAQ: What are the benefits for those who choose not to cycle?”