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.
Here are two articles about walkable communities. The first article asks whether your municipality is demonstrably unfriendly for walking, featuring many instances reflecting what we find in Brockville (as in the picture above). Read first article here.
The second article is “The Complete Guide to Creating More Walkable Streets”. The guide offers a diverse array of approaches to planning and implementing more walk-friendly access for a large variety of common streetscape situations. The guide also has numerous links to more detailed case studies of each example. Read the second article here.
Brockville will be designing and approving an Active Transportation Plan this year. Stay tuned for the public workshops and be prepared to come out and collaborate in building a plan that will provide policy and guidance, leading Brockville to become a more walk-friendly community.
For those who like to follow what’s happening in the leading, larger cities for practices that can be applied in places that are smaller and/or lagging way behind, there’s always lots to learn from Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montréal. Vancouver’s journey has perhaps been the most successful across a broad set of measures. Fully 50% of trips in the City of Vancouver are made by bike, on foot, or by transit. A few notable highlights are captured in the images and you can read more here.
Planning is well underway to develop a province-wide cycling network to connect communities and destinations across Ontario. With input from stakeholders, communities, and the public, an initial network of primary cycling routes across the province has been identified.
Learn more about this project here.
The plan is based on Ontario’s cycling strategy delivered in 2013, “#CycleON“, reconfirming and extending the delivery of facilities, programs and services that encourage more people to get on bikes more often, for purpose and for pleasure.
Thursday, May 10 will feature presentations, panelists and discussions revolving around how to create plans and projects and how to move them forward. This is of heightened interest this year, the first year of four for the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program in which many municipalities and townships throughout Eastern Ontario are receiving significant funding to help make our public roads more usable for all.
Tentatively, Friday, May 11 will be a morning session focused on cycle tourism – how our region can better gain from this fast-growing sector of the tourism economy.
For information on past year’s Summits, and to see the agenda for this year as it firms up, please see: http://healthyllg.org/active_transportation.html
Brockville’s official plan, like any other, declares that public roads exist to move people and goods.
A current and comprehensive transportation plan, which Brockville does not have, would then go on to stipulate the relative priority given to different modes of transportation and then go into some detail on the current and future transportation network of the city. Cities usually define the modal priorities as pedestrians, then cyclists, then transit, with private automobiles last.
The linked article describes how the city of London England has greatly improved the overall efficiency of their transportation system by designing and implementing roadways that match their priorities. This includes designated bicycle highways as well as facilities on shared roads. When people are offered choices they perceived to be viable as well as safe then more rational outcomes result.
In London, the result is a system in which cycling proves to be five times more efficient than driving, without even considering the associated health and environmental benefits.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, in her just-released report, calls for better design and delivery of supports and infrastructure for active mobility in our built environment as one key and immediately actionable way to stem the growing twin scourges of obesity and inactivity. These are gateway conditions leading to diseases that sap quality of life, raise health care costs, and drain economic productivity.
City parks are increasingly being viewed as critical community infrastructure – the lungs of the community. Shared-use trails running through and connecting them are the circulatory system. Together, they provide life – the social, health and transportation means to a more vital city.
Do your councilors understand this? Ask them! The municipal leaders in this video certainly do!
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.
A generation ago, Vision Zero was launched as a systems-based approach to reducing traffic harm. The vision is simple – zero fatalities. The means are more complex – recognizing that people make mistakes that cause harm, and designing roads and traffic environments that minimize risk when mistakes are made. Vision Zero has been adopted as policy in leading European countries and many N.A. cities.
Sweden is now “Moving Beyond Zero” on the principle that eliminating harm is good, yet encouraging healthier behaviours and lifestyles is even better.
Matt Pender’s piece in The Star, talking about the success of Toronto’s Bloor St bicycle facilities, reminds us once again that when we build cycling facilities that serve the majority, we’re not serving the already-committed minority who would call themselves cyclists. Rather, we are targeting the nearly two-thirds of people who occasionally ride a bike and will eagerly do so more often when they feel safe. Indeed, designing for the “everyday cyclist” always results in a large uptake of cycling activity. The growth is entirely from the cohort of “people who ride a bike”. This busts the myth of the few remaining anti-laners who proclaim, “We don’t need bike lanes; there are no cyclists on the street.” The evidence is clear. Build it and people will ride. Read Matt’s article here.
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.
“Are Bike Lanes Good for Traffic?” is the title, yet the article is really a wide-ranging description of the progress being made everywhere as public roads are transformed to be safer for moving people regardless of choice of transportation. It was published in autotrader.ca and serves to both illuminate and describe the variety of approaches, designs, and social factors brought into play as roads built first for cars are now reshaped to serve moving people. Read the article here.
Much has been written about the need to design cycling facilities that serve the majority of people, those who are “interested yet concerned”. This cohort represents the majority, those who are quite willing to use a bicycle more often for everyday activities, yet are dissuaded by safety concerns. Designing to this cohort’s needs led to the adoption of protected lanes as the default wherever possible. And indeed, the largest uptakes in cycling activity occur with the implementation of protected lanes.
In Ontario, survey results have yielded the same outcomes and MTO has embedded the findings as part of their design guidelines in the Ontario Traffic Manual (OTM Book 18 – Cycling Facilities). Available here (large PDF download).
For those interested in the survey research, analysis and case studies underpinning all this see this article from Alta Planning + Design:
“Understanding the ‘Four Types of Cyclists’”.
Edmonton is the most recent of several major Canadian cities to realize the benefits of implementing a cycling network all at once in a defined area. Well, that new network is set to open. Along with that their city website provides a full guide (pdf) for all street users, including safety tips for those cycling, or walking, or driving around the new facilities. Continue reading “News: Edmonton’s Bike Network Opens”
Great idea: Rethinking parking – From coast to coast and in middle America, more sensible parking policies are taking hold and may be the quickest path to urban revitalization.
CNU’s “Public Square” editor Robert Steuteville interviewed Donald Shoup, UCLA professor and author of The High Cost of Free Parking, and Jeffrey Tumlin, director of strategy for Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, transportation planners and engineers, on how new ways of thinking about parking are transforming the American landscape.
This wide-ranging interview describes how required provisions for automobile parking have shaped urban areas, especially downtowns, in ways that discourage and defeat walkability. Many examples serve to illustrate this quickly disappearing paradigm. The interviewees also highlight the rapidly increasing number of municipalities that are removing minimum parking requirements from zoning bylaws, and the upsurge in urban revitalization that follows.
In Canada, some cities are following suit in removing parking minimums, most notably around transit hubs. A discussion about removing parking minimums from developments around the downtown and waterfront area in Brockville could be of local benefit especially if coupled with a parking garage that would provide the convenience of “park once then walk”.
Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is a US nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago and Washington.
“The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) helps create vibrant and walkable cities, towns, and neighborhoods where people have diverse choices for how they live, work, shop, and get around. People want to live in well-designed places that are unique and authentic. CNU’s mission is to help build those places.”
In this column from the Montréal Gazette, columnist Andy Riga interviews Dale Bracewell, Vancouver transportation planner, on that city’s strategic approach to focus on building quality cycling infrastructure that serves All Ages & Abilities (AAA) rather than just putting in kilometres of facilities that do not encourage the widest diversity of people to get out and bike more often.
The key to encouraging riders from 8 to 80, rookies to hardcore, inexperienced to confident, is the containment of motorized vehicles so that cycling traffic is separated. See the photo above, from the city of Vancouver, for a typical spectrum of cycling facilities from least to most encouraging.
As Dale says, “We were having some success with cycling but we were really still serving the person who already was choosing to cycle. Now we’re designing for children, for seniors, for new people cycling, for bike-share users.
It really shifted the way we approach cycling infrastructure. We’re not delivering as many bike-lane kilometres as we’re used to or compared to cities like Montreal. Now, as best we can, we design for people to be able to ride with their kids, or for a senior who still cycles or wants to, and for a person new to cycling.”
For the complete article please read here.
Communities across the continent are realizing the health, social, and economic benefits of designing neighbourhoods and cities, large and small, that encourage people to move themselves more often. This article explores the changes that are underway as paradigms continue to shift rapidly, and how different designs meet the needs of different types of activities. One compelling aspect of this article is the emphasis placed on the need for changes in thinking with respect to zoning, community design and political will. Read more here.