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.
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.
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.
Ontario already leads Canada in adoption of complete streets policies. Fully 84% of Ontarians live in a municipality where complete streets are either provincially mandated or have been adopted by local council. Sarnia is about to move up to that level of competing for families, talent and new business when their council moves to adopt a complete streets policy this month. As in other cities, the complete streets policy will ensure that public roads safely serve all members of the public – all ages, all abilities, all modes of transportation, for purpose and for pleasure.
Faced with complaints and concerns about neighbourhood speeding drivers and school zone problems like those in Brockville, here is one Ontario city’s innovative approach. Take this idea to your councilor.
Ontario is the provincial leader in moving to prioritize “complete streets” approaches to planning. Indeed, 84% of Ontarians now live in a municipality where complete streets are either provincially mandated or have been adopted as city policy. This reporter believes it won’t be long until all Ontario municipalities fall under the same requirements and road grants will be predicated upon the inclusion of complete streets design. Against this backdrop, there are many small cities who likely don’t have a clue what complete streets are all about. There’s lots of general information out there, along with many city guides (e.g. Toronto, Ottawa). The article highlighted here delves into some of the intricacies that go into approaching a complete streets design for a project. Read the article here.
The updated Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe was released on May 18, 2017 and comes into effect July 1, 2017. (View or download here.) Significant new policy statements embedded in the update require that all road projects for new and renovated facilities will follow complete streets guidelines, and that active transportation is prioritized over private automobiles. Continue reading “Ontario Becomes First “Complete Streets” Province”
“Small, rural communities have different realities than their urban counterparts, especially when it comes to active transportation. Most have limited financial resources, but extensive road infrastructure to maintain. Rural geography generally means large distances and low density. The prevailing attitudes regarding transportation may be quite focused on cars. Finally, most evidence on AT is urban based, leaving a gap in knowledge.”
An article describes the development of automated techniques to quantitatively analyze traffic conflicts. The emerging techniques will provide evidence leading to better street design. Read more here.
As described in this release from the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, the City of Toronto adopted a complete streets policy in 2014 and has now released it’s design guidelines document to support the program.
“The City of Toronto joins a number of other Canadian cities in publishing Complete Street Guidelines. Ajax, Halifax, Calgary, Ottawa, London, Edmonton, Waterloo, and York are some of the cities that are taking strides towards building more inclusive, multipurpose, and safe streets. ”
The document is available for download on the City of Toronto’s website here.
In this recent installment of a series of articles examining the evolving nature of Ottawa, Don Butler provides a thoughtful look at the evolving practice of upgrading streetscapes using complete streets approaches to better serve people and goods moving through neighbourhoods. Many in the rearguard of normative change find the evolution troubling, yet the results speak for themselves. Read more here.
You’ll soon hear discussion of “Neighbourhood Greenways” in Brockville. In design and function, they fit between off-road trails and complete streets, aimed at providing calm routes through low-traffic neighbourhoods, linking them to each other as well as to busier and more direct thoroughfares (spine/core routes) that need complete streets or protected bikeway treatment. Continue reading “Greenways Link Neighbourhoods”
The USA is on track this year to kill 38,000 people in auto collisions, rapidly overtaking the 35,000 deaths by gun. An analysis of US vs European factors, coupled with emerging trends in selected US cities, shows how a different design approach pays dividends by reducing drivers’ ability to cause harm. Cities that implement Vision Zero – assuming people will make mistakes and designing facilities that reduce the impact of those mistakes – coupled with complete streets, and protected facilities for those walking and cycling, are yielding big reductions in fatalities. Read more here.
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.
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.”
[To date, Vision Zero has been endorsed in Edmonton and Vancouver, with Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa circling closer and closer to adoption.]
This is a great summary piece that lists fifty different reasons why cities of all sizes need to pay more attention to design that puts people, community and walkability, and moving people in a way that creates interaction, ahead of moving cars. The list covers the gamut from physical and population physical and mental health, to social community, to economic factors. Read more here.
This article from the Sierra Club highlights the social and economic benefits found in neighbourhoods with higher walk scores. “People who could hoof it reported more trust and involvement, and are happier and healthier than those in less walkable neighborhoods.” As well, “A 2009 study by CEOs for Cities found that homes with an above-average Walk Score sold for up to $34,000 more than their no-sidewalk-in-sight counterparts.” That of course raises the issue of social equity. Should people have to pay more to live in a walkable neighbourhood, or should cities be designed to be put community first?
Read more (with links to research) here.
A new backgrounder from Complete Streets for Canada examines the need to apply complete streets approaches to rural areas. This adds to the impetus for, among other things, a “paved shoulders” policy which has an easy business case, yet whose benefits go much further than dollars. “With higher road mortality rates and poorer health outcomes than their urban counterparts, rural areas in particular can benefit from safer roadways that encourage walking, cycling and other forms of active transportation. Transportation equity is also critical, as those living without a vehicle in rural areas can face serious challenges of mobility in the absence of public transportation and safe walking and cycling routes. On a larger scale, a Complete Streets approach can have economic benefits, by enlivening a rural main street or historic downtown. ” Read more here.