Once Again, Build It And They Will Ride

New parking-protected bike lane on Toronto's Bloor St just prior to completion.
New parking-protected bike lane on Toronto’s Bloor St,  just prior to completion.

Early unofficial statistics point to Toronto’s latest protected bike lane joining others across North America in a 100% success rate.  Everywhere, without fail, roads upgraded to provide safe passage for those choosing to cycle see overnight growth in ridership.

Research everywhere is consistent – roughly 60% of people say they’d cycle more if they felt safe.  Case studies are consistent too – when protected facilities are built, more people choose to ride.

“Prior to the lanes’ installation, the city counted 3,571 daily riders along Bloor. But on Monday, cycling advocacy group Bells on Bloor says they spotted 6,099 bikes over 24 hours.

“That’s an increase of nearly 75 per cent.

“During the morning rush hour, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m, the group counted 660 bikes and 1,105 cars, meaning cyclists represented 37 per cent of all traffic.”

See article here.

Hamilton Joins Other Cities In Adopting Parking-Protected Bike Lanes

Parking Protected Bike Lane (NACTO)
Parking Protected Bike Lane (NACTO)

As this article relates, Hamilton’s parking protected bike lanes are here to stay, joining Toronto’s recent implementation along Bloor St downtown, Winnipeg (in 2014), Vancouver and many other cities across N. A. The older approach of sandwiching a bike lane between moving traffic and a line of parked cars proved to be excessively risky – when an inattentive motorist opens a door into traffic without looking, a person approaching on a bike has nowhere to go but into the moving traffic. The simple expedient of putting the bike lane between the parking lane and the curb solves the problem, as described in the design documents from the NACTO – the National Association of Transportation Officials. This is a design that will work well on Laurier Blvd in Brockville.

Political Leadership On Active Transportation

Before and after – New St, Burlington ON

New Street in Burlington is an urban collector with a traffic load more than double that measured on Laurier Blvd or King St W in Brockville. New St is currently configured as four lanes – two in each direction.  A pilot project underway will see New St put on a “road diet” and upgraded to two lanes plus a centre left turn lane, plus a buffered bike lane on each side.  The reconfiguration is not expected to cause material slowdowns on the road, which will remain below capacity in its new configuration. Of note, Mayor Rick Goldring has taken to social media in defense of the project, providing answers to all the questions arising. This is a good read for those still in the 1970’s paradigm for road design and usage.  Read here.  For a more detailed look at the project, which has lots of learnings for Brockville, see here.

Motorists Prefer Bike Lanes Be Protected

Parking protected bike lane on Sherbrook in Winnipeg
Parking protected bike lane on Sherbrook in Winnipeg

This article in Momentum Mag highlights the findings of a survey out of San Francisco that mirrors findings by the Green Lane Project in several other American cities. The key finding is that those driving prefer roads with bike lanes, preferably protected bike lanes, simply because all traffic is more orderly. Read here.

King St West Update

IMG_2501DxO2 In Brockville’s SW corner, King St W from Rivers Ave to the City limits at the Country Club is milled and storm drains and utility covers are reset. Repaving will start soon. Expect the reconfigured, renovated and upgraded entry to the City to be complete within a few weeks. It’ll be more welcoming and friendly to all with a reconfiguration of lanes that will benefit those using the sidewalks, or cycling or driving. This will be augmented with similar treatment from the Counties that will extend the lane configuration from the City limits out to Grants Creek.  Brockville’s first bike lanes are almost a reality!  Details previously posted here.

Building Bike Lanes Slows Climate Change

Two-way parking protected bike lane in Montreal. Photo by Karen and MomentumMag
Two-way parking protected bike lane in Montreal. Photo by Karen and MomentumMag

The causal linkage of cycling infrastructure with increased cycling modal share has been well researched and proven in several case studies.  That linkage has now been extended to quantify the long-assumed reduction in GHG emissions that contribute to climate change.  The Canadian-based research examined over ten years of data from Montreal, reaffirmed the positive link between cycling infrastructure and modal share uptake, and went on to quantify the GHG reductions resulting from modal switch from autos to bikes. Bottom line? Building bike infrastructure results in cycling uptake and a quantifiable reduction in motorized modal share, contributing (among other things) to slowing climate change.  Read more here.

Learning From Others – Toronto’s Roncesvalles Lanes

Martin Reis Roncy 2
Photo of Roncesvalles by Martin Reis

This article provides some lessons learned about implementing bike lanes in Toronto.  Those of us in cities a generation behind can watch, listen and learn, avoiding those mistakes and using current best practices.  The article’s summary is especially helpful in setting the stage for infrastructure that works, at the same time further debunking the vehicular cycling approach:

Albert Koehl, a founder of Bells on Bloor and environmental lawyer, says “We should think of separated bike lanes as part of a broader set of safety measures,” that include lower speed limits, narrower traffic lanes, a Vulnerable Road User Law, speed cameras, improved pedestrian crossings and public education programs. 

“Better road safety requires a change in approach that means taking speed and space away from automobiles,” Koehl says. 

Toronto, he argues, should stop pretending that roads can safely be shared by cyclists, pedestrians and cars. 

“The traditional attitude of ‘why can’t we all just get along’ simply serves and perpetuates the dangerous status quo,” Koehl says. 

Read the Now Toronto article here.


Winnipeg Joins The 21st Century With Naysayers Kicking And Screaming

Parking protected bike lane on Sherbrook in Winnipeg
Parking protected bike lane on Sherbrook in Winnipeg

A wonderful opinion piece in the Winnipeg Free Press offers some thoughts on that city’s progress in introducing protected bike lanes. The writer captures the backlash from the inevitable anti-laners quite well:
“Change is often slow in Winnipeg, but it is occurring. Wholesale opposition to making Winnipeg streets safer for all users will sound more shrill and intellectually hollow over time, and will soon be clung to by a small number of citizens who are staunchly anti-cycling as a matter of quixotic principle.”
Read article here.

Belleville Opens First Bike Lanes In Cycling Plan

Yeomans-St-Bike-Lanes-1-Jun-16-compressedWith plans for more over the next couple of years, Belleville opened a 1.6km stretch of upgraded Yeomans Street, complete with bike lanes. Belleville, population 50,000, shares geographic similarities with Brockville – it’s located on a waterfront and split by both major rail lines and the 401. However, Belleville’s city council has decided to move the city into the 21st century by creating a plan for active transportation and getting on with building the facilities people want and need. Read more.

Bikes Are Good For Retail Businesses

photo from Momentum Mag
photo from Momentum Mag

When it comes to on-road bicycle facilities through retail business districts displacing some parking, some retailers cry doom and gloom – at least until their sales go up!  Ask retailers in the Wellington West area in Ottawa – Ontario’s first Bicycle Friendly Business District.  They’re happy. Ask retailers in Vancouver, who now vie to have their block the next to get bike lanes.
When it comes to stalling tactics and the inevitable call for “study the economic impact”, well, “they’ve been done. And done. And done again. And they all reach a similar conclusion: replacing on-street parking with a bike lane has little to no impact on local business, and in some cases might even increase business.”  Have a look at this compendium of studies and remember the results when it’s Brockville’s turn to consider bike lanes along King St downtown! Read more.

News: Toronto Approves Protected Bike Lanes On Bloor

TorontoBloor“It reflects and shows that our city has moved past the debates and divisions of old and demonstrates that bike lanes are a win-win for everybody,” Councillor Joe Cressy, following the vote.  With majority support from local councillors, retailers, business owners and residents, project moves ahead. The design features a buffered and parking protected bike lane on one side, and a buffered bike lane on the other side.
Read more.

Kelowna Plans Protected Two-Way Bike Lane Along Major Route

(Concept image from Kelowna's planning site)
(Concept image from Kelowna’s planning site)

For those who are interested in staying abreast of developments we could learn from, check out Kelowna’s plan to install a protected two-way bike lane along a busy urban corridor very similar to Laurier Blvd in most respects. As Brockville falls further behind, great examples from other cities become easier and easier to find. On Kelowna’s page, also check out the fact sheet and displayboards linked there.  Read more.

News: Victoria BC Moving To Adopt AAA Cycling Facilities

Parking Protected Bike Lane (NACTO)
Parking Protected Bike Lane (NACTO)

Victoria BC is the most recent Canadian city to be moving to an All Ages and Abilities (“AAA”) cycling network, incorporating protected bike lane designs shown by Canadian and US research to significantly reduce risk to those cycling while at the same time unleashing latent demand.
In addition to the health and environmental benefits, “building bicycle infrastructure creates better equity and social justice. This is because safe bicycle networks give people across all socio-economic levels a genuine alternative to the costly private automobile.” Read more.

News: Toronto’s Bloor Street Ready To Join The Cycling Age

A long time in the making, support for bike lanes on Toronto’s Bloor St. now appears strong and consistent across all stakeholders.

“Never before have we had so many people – and not just the usual suspects – take up the cause,” said Cycle Toronto director Jared Kolb. “We’ve got strong political leadership locally, strong business support, residents and residents’ associations and a growing amount of data that backs up the argument in an unbiased, scientific way.”  Read more.

Fail Fast & Fail Forward – Trial Installations Can Pave the Way

LaurierTrialAs Janette Sadik-Khan showed us in NYC, a lot can be accomplished with a few planters and some road paint in a short trial that either generates some lessons learned, or becomes a permanent fixture.  More cities are adopting this approach, which would hold promise for a few key routes in Brockville.  Bike lanes could be added to Laurier with nothing more than paint as a trial for those choosing to cycle as well as a way of calming traffic.  Read more here.

Rightsizing Streets

“The needs of our communities evolve over time, and our street design should, too. That’s the idea behind ‘rightsizing streets’ – reconfiguring the layout of our streets to better serve the people who use them, whether they’re commuters driving, shoppers walking, or children bicycling. Across the country, communities large and small are achieving impressive safety, mobility, and community outcomes by implementing such reconfigurations.” Read more.

News: Bicycle Lanes Challenged

An article in today’s paper recounts a filled-beyond-capacity meeting of Brockville’s Finance/Admin/Operations standing committee at which opponents had a chance to speak against a proposal to provide safe passage on Laurier Blvd for people wishing to ride bikes for purpose or for pleasure.  Much misinformation persists, yet only good can eventually come from public dialogue.  Read article on Recorder Times website.

Comments received on support petition

IbikeIvoteIn signing the petition to City Council in support of the cycling plan, to date over 200 have provided a comment as to why. Here they are, with names withheld for privacy. Those signing the petition did so of their own free will – without in-your-face bullying or intimidation.  These comments from the usually-silent majority speak to a healthier, more equitable, more active Brockville.  Continue reading “Comments received on support petition”