Here’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.
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.
In 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.”
Torontonian Warren Huska cycles 18km each way to work and had his share of close calls from irresponsible drivers. In a story now gone viral, he lit upon the idea of using a pool noodle to demarcate his road space, reminding others of his presence and of Ontario’s safe passing law. Similar devices and flags have been used for years, yet Warren’s story seems to have captured public attention, highlighting the need for everyone to pay attention to road safety. Read more here.
Original Toronto Star article here.
In a recent consultation in Toronto, Sweden’s manager of that country’s successful Vision Zero program highlighted the change in paradigm needed to improve road safety. A paradigm that accepts that people make mistakes, and that designs roads better to reduce the opportunity for and impact of those mistakes.
“You have to realize that you have young people, you have old people, you have all kinds of people. With a philosophy like Vision Zero, you take that for granted. Instead of starting to change them, you have to start to accommodate for them and design a system for humans.”
Recently, Edmonton recovered from a false start by removing a poorly designed bike lane from a street, much to the delight of anti-laners everywhere who could now point knowingly to how bike lanes were failing “everywhere”. At the time, that city said they’d come back with a better plan. And they did.
Last week Edmonton city council voted unanimously to follow Calgary’s successful lead and implement a downtown grid of protected bike lanes. The plan leans not only on Calgary’s success, but also the known factor that building bike lanes one segment at a time does little to spur the uptake needed, and that a fully-connected network delivers. The plan also relies on being able to modify the grid with experience, solving problems in real time, instead of putting years of planning into trying to address all potential concerns up front. This is truly a plan which leans on global best practices and aims to take Edmonton directly from “not have” to “front runner”. Read more here.
New Guide is the First-Ever
Worldwide Standard for D
esigning Safe, Sustainable
“The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the Global Designing Cities Initiative today unveiled the Global Street Design Guide, the first-ever worldwide standard for redesigning city streets to prioritize safety, pedestrians, transit and sustainable mobility for an urban century.
‘Street design is one of the single most powerful instruments available to city planners to combat traffic danger, a persistent global health crisis responsible for 1.25 million deaths annually. Street design is also the key to resolving larger issues of cities’ economic vitality, livability, and physical and social mobility. The Guide comes as urban populations increase around the world and amid a sea change in the number of cities designing, testing and implementing street transformations.”
Here’s another bit of research that explores the link between “well-being” and an urban environment that invests in and encourages walking, biking and transit. The investment leverage for active mobility, which encourages healthy choices, is significantly greater than the impact of health care spending. Read more here.
Line painting on King St W and Cty Rd 2, along with new signs, clearly show Brockville’s first bike lanes. Some stencil and line painting remains, yet the lanes are marked and in force. This segment is part of the Ontario Waterfront Trail, and the eastbound welcome to Brockville for some 3,000 or more cyclist tourists each season. It’s also a popular route for local commuters and recreational riders.
The original four lane configuration has been upgraded to two bike lanes, two motorized travel lanes, and a centre left turn lane. The road continues to provide significant excess capacity for measured volumes.
First proposed and approved by council in the 2009 Official Plan, further reinforced in planning rationale in 2012, and once again approved by council and Leeds Grenville public works in late 2015, they are finally a reality.
“Every $1,300 New York City invested in building bike lanes in 2015 provided benefits equivalent to one additional year of life at full health over the lifetime of all city residents, according to a new economic assessment.
“That’s a better return on investment than some direct health treatments, like dialysis, which costs $129,000 for one quality-adjusted life year, or QALY, said coauthor Dr. Babak Mohit of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York.” Read more here.