Saturday, October 31, 2009

Urban sprawl no fun for kids, reports say

Vancouver Sun, October 28
Author: Laura Stone

Kids these days: they rarely walk anywhere. They don't ride bikes, they don't play outside -- not like they used to, anyway. But can we blame them?

Not according to two new studies released by the Vanier Institute of the Family, a charitable Ottawa-based organization.

The studies, released [October 27], chronicle a generation of Canadian youngsters reared primarily in spread-out communities outside the urban centre, where they can expect to be driven anywhere they want to go, even if it's just to a friend's house a few blocks away. The data are based both on literature and empirical research, conducted over the past year, Scott said.

Report is available at: Report

Reclaiming city streets for people

European Commission: Directorate-General for the Environment

One of the key issues affecting the quality of the environment and the quality of life in our towns and cities is road traffic. Heavy motor traffic means poor air quality, unacceptable levels of noise and a weakened sense of neighbourhood and local community. Traffic also gives rise to high costs for the economy through delays caused by congestion.

This new handbook sets out some case studies where road space has been reallocated for other uses. New, attractive and popular public areas can be created on sites that were once blocked by regular traffic jams. If these are properly planned, they need not result in road traffic chaos, contrary to what might be expected.

Alberta Centre for Active Living - Physical Activity Information Round-Up

The Alberta Centre for Active Living regularly receives physical activity information from various sources, including listservs, websites, personal contacts, and e-mails. These resources are useful for people who need evidence-based physical activity information for their work.

This latest bulletin features Active Transportation information.

US - Community Walkable Neighbourhoods Guide

A Resident’s Guide for Creating Safe and Walkable Communities includes information, ideas, success stories, and resources to help neighborhood residents learn about issues that affect walking conditions; find ways to address or prevent these problems; and promote pedestrian safety.

This Guide also contains fact sheets, worksheets, and sample materials that can be distributed or adapted to meet the needs of a community. The guide contains 5 major sections:

1. Chapter 1: How can I identify problems with walking conditions in my neighborhood?
2. Chapter 2: Who can help me make my neighborhood a safer place to walk?
3. Chapter 3: How can the safety of my neighborhood be improved?
4. Chapter 4: I need more information!
5. Resource Materials

[I may have already sent this out previously, but I think no-one will object to being reminded of it. Those new to the blog may bebefit from exploring the archived articles. There are links to many reports and studies on cycling and pedestrian issues. -MH]

Boomer demand spikes sales of two-wheelers designed for older riders

Many older bicyclists aren’t looking for sturdy mountain bikes designed for daredevils or racing styles for Lycra-clad hard bodies. Instead, they’re interests are piqued by the newer, more comfortable models broadly referred to as “lifestyle” bikes.

Lifestyle bikes boast features like padded seats for a soft ride; lower, U-shaped crossbars for trouble-free mounting; low gears for easy pedaling; and a sturdy, upright frame for balance. And some, like Rigg McAdams’ new $1,800 wheels, are power-assisted.

This interest has made such bikes the hottest category of two-wheeled transportation today. From an almost nonexistent market a decade ago, these lifestyle bikes now command a third of the 3.1 million bike sales anticipated in 2009.

Ottawa's cycling issues finally gaining needed speed

Ottawa Citizen, October 21
Author: Kelly Egan

It has taken ages, but cycling suddenly has momentum in Ottawa. The city of Ottawa talks a good game on cycling networks but, in truth, we are leagues behind the best cities in the world. Many people know this and many are not satisfied.

City plans to create seven areas that are vibrant, pedestrian friendly and transit supported

The [Kitchener-Waterloo] Record, October 22
Author: Terry Pender

In an effort to create a vibrant urban neighbourhood city officials have redrawn the land use map for an important stretch of King Street West.

“Over time it is envisioned that the Mixed Use Corridors will intensify with transit supported uses which are well integrated with surrounding neighbourhoods and provide a high quality public realm designed for people,” says a city document on designing buildings for the corridors.

Time to put the brakes on bicycling lanes

The [Saskatoon] Star Phoenix, October 7
Author: Les MacPherson

To better accommodate bicycles in the city is all very progressive, environmentally responsible, good for physical fitness, etc., etc., but I fear we are going too far.

Montrealers have no problem walking the walk

In Canada's second-largest city, jaywalking pedestrians feel that they always have the right of way.

Cyclists seeking safer routes and driver education

Yarmouth County Vangard, October 27
Author: Carla Allen

Biking promoters have a vision they’d like to see become reality. It doesn’t include having bottles thrown at cyclists by motorists or being crowded off the road by traffic – as some who attended a meeting at Meadowfields School described experiencing.

Skateboard Path May Become Permanent

The Daily Nexus (University of California, Santa Barabara), October 26
Author: Nate Schneider

If all goes well, the skateboard path that UCSB added this summer could be a permanent addition to campus.

The first of its kind at the university, the five-foot-wide skate path stretches several hundred feet between the Humanities and Social Sciences Building and Davidson Library. According to a survey conducted by the UCSB Skateboard Committee, a majority of skateboarding accidents now occur within the lane, which bodes well for pedestrians — but perhaps not the skaters.

FACE parents worry about new bike path

Parents with children at a downtown Montreal school near McGill University say they are upset they were not consulted on a new bike path being built in front of the building.

Construction on the new two-way bike path on University Street has jammed traffic in front of FACE School, making it difficult for parents to drop off and pick up their children, said Andrew Edwards, who has three girls at the arts institution.

Silver Birch Trail will not be paved

Wasaga Sun, October 20
Author: Trina Berlo

Council is switching gears on its active transportation strategy that included the paving of neighbourhood trails after a group of residents voiced their opposition.

"I think I can say safely on behalf of all councillors the paving of Silver Birch Trail won't happen," said Mayor Cal Patterson at a council meeting on Oct. 13.

Council chambers was full that night with the same people who attended a public meeting on Oct. 8, the same people who signed a petition that sparked the about-face.

National report praises city's bike lane

The [Charlottetown] Guardian, October 21

A national organization aimed at promoting the health of Canadians has recognized the City of Charlottetown’s new bike lane as an example of healthful urban planning.
Victoria Park’s designated bicycle lane was profiled in a recently released report by the Healthy Living Issue Group of the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network.

Proposed trail on agenda for two public meetings

Cape Breton Post, October 18

Councillors in Glace Bay and Dominion are encouraging residents to attend public meetings this week to discuss the possible conversion of the former Devco Rail Line between Gardiner Road and Brookside Street into a managed public trail.
District 5 Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger said although plans include for the trail to extend to Louisbourg, in their area it starts at the Gardiner Road and through to Brookside Street, Glace Bay.

After the meeting people in the buffer zone area will receive questionnaires from the CBRM Active Transportation Committee.

New York's transformation sends us a message

Vancouver Sun, October 20
Author: Pete McMartin

The solution was simple, but not simplistic. Broadway was the problem. Sadik-Khan, New York's transportation commissioner, decided to remove Broadway.

Times Square became a pedestrian haven, and all along Broadway, the city established linear esplanades and seating areas in what were once curbside car lanes. The New York public and tourist crowds embraced the changes, Sadik-Khan said, all of which were first discussed with and vetted by the local neighbourhood community boards. Times Square now attracts 356,000 pedestrians a day.

UK - Crap Cycle Lanes

As the title suggest, these pictures show some less than stellar examples of bike lanes in the United Kingdom. The Warrington Cycle Campaign's book of Crap Cycle Lanes is notorious among cyclists.

From amusing and pointless to downright dangerous lanes, the book catalogues 50 of the worst examples of cycle facilities in Britain. You know the sort: lanes with bollards in the middle of them, ones that last two metres, the type that end abruptly and spit you out into the middle of fast-flowing traffic.

Swedish Piano Stairs

Ok, this must be the most innovative idea that I have ever seen to encourage people to take the stairs rather than the escalator. - MH

Beijing’s Sustainable City Center

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) was recently awarded the contract to create a stunning new Central Business District in Beijing. The project will integrate into the existing downtown urban district and will improve transportation infrastructure while introducing energy-efficient buildings green public space.

Focusing on Neighborhood Traffic Safety - Lessons from Europe

Presented by: Greg Raisman, Traffic Safety Specialist, Portland Bureau of Transportation.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Keeping children safe: rethinking how we design our surroundings

Injury is the leading cause of death among children in North America, many of them traffic-related injuries that can be traced back to poor community design decisions, like locating a school on the wrong side of a busy street, says Dr. Andrew Howard in a paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Howard set out to look at pedestrian injuries because so much injury investigation in the past has focused on children inside the car, rather than those outside the car.

Injury accounts for about 40 per cent of childhood deaths in industrialized countries. The report says 371,000 boys and 289,000 girls worldwide died of injuries in 2002 — including more than 180,000 killed in traffic accidents, mainly as pedestrians.

As he looked from country to country, Howard noted that new North American communities are still fairly "car-centric," which is quite different from European cities and towns, where planning is around people who walk, public transit users and cyclists.

[An excellent article worth reading through to the end. - MH]

The Top 10 Facts on Bicycling and Walking in the United States

Although these are US statistics, they are helpful because, in most cases, equivalent Canadian numbers do not exist.

Health & Transport Action Plan - Grampian, Scotland

A new subscriber to the Active Transportation-Canada Listserv has provided a link to his community's Health & Transport Action Plan and is eager to share this information with other subscribers.

Mr. Geddes lives and works in the Grampian area of Scotland, where he is the Programme Support Officer for the plan. Should anyone have interest in learning more about Grampian's plans, please contact me (Michael Haynes) and I will provide Mr. Geddes e-mail address.

Newsletter: The Centre for Sustainable Transportation

This edition of the newsletter highlights the past Spring and Summer activities on the Centre, as well as local events in and around Winnipeg.

If you have any questions or want further information about any articles in this newsletter, feel free to contact us by email at or phone at (204) 988-7182.

Could this be the fittest generation?

Globe and Mail, October 7
Author: Hayley Mick

[O]n the eve of their golden years, could this be the most active generation of 50-year-olds Canada has ever seen?

Health experts are anticipating the definitive answer early next year, when Statistics Canada releases fitness data from a project called the Canadian Health Measures Survey, the most comprehensive study ever to look at fitness levels among Canadians of all ages.

Fast lane to safer cycling

Globe and Mail, July 7
Author: Albert Koehl

[An opinion article, but with some interesting suggestions about moving to the next stage. -MH]

Ontario planning law already puts a healthy emphasis on cycling, walking and transit. Both the Toronto region's growth plan and the Provincial Policy Statement, which is currently under review, require cities to consider the safety of cyclists. The growth plan directs cities to ensure that bicycle and pedestrian networks are integrated into transportation planning “to provide safe, comfortable travel for pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Unfortunately, the law has just enough ambiguity to allow a “business as usual” approach. By imposing minimum standards on cities - such as the requirement to install bike lanes on roads with specified cycling levels or when road redevelopments take place - the province will move the municipal debate about bike lanes from “if” to “how.”

Clarifying the Share the Road Project

The Haliburton County Echo, October 3
Author: Sue Shikaze

I’d like to take the opportunity to clarify the goals and intent of the recent Share the Road campaign.

This campaign was initiated as a result of recommendations made in the 2008 Cycling Master Plan for Haliburton County. When the Ontario Ministry of Transportation made funding available through its Transportation Demand Management program, the County of Haliburton, in partnership with the coalition, Communities in Action Committee, Health Unit and all four municipalities, made a successful application for the Share the Road project.

Newsletter: Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation

The Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation (TCAT) was formed in 2006 to give a unified voice to the many groups working for a better cycling and pedestrian environment in Toronto. The TCAT plan for active transportation emerged out of consultation with environmental, health and transportation groups from across Toronto. The result is a practical yet visionary plan for how Toronto City Council can make active transportation a central part of transportation planning.

The Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation (TCAT) works to create a better city for cycling and walking.

Newsletter: Biking

BikingToronto is not your typical Toronto cycling advocacy site. Many websites which advocate for more cycling facilites and funding in Toronto do so with an often negative slant. Not so with BikingToronto.

BikingToronto believes that for true change to happen (ie. getting more people on bikes), the positive events and initiatives must be celebrated. It's true that a negative spin could be put on everything that happens in Toronto regarding cycling, but that doesn't help anyone.

Completing Toronto's Streets

The Strand, October 15
Author: Sean MacKay

A city should design its roadways with equal consideration for the safety and needs of all who must use it, not giving any preferential treatment to those traveling in cars.

Here's a novel idea: walking to school

Comox Valley Echo, October 5

Students from École Puntledge Park Elementary will join millions of children in Canada and in many nations around the globe on Wednesday October 7 for International Walk to School Day, or IWALK.

Walking to school better in every way for kids

The, October 8
Author: Albert Koehl

Since Canadian kids are spending more time being driven around, they are spending less time being physically active. More than 50 per cent of kids get to school in motor vehicles, including buses. This helps explain why a quarter of kids are overweight and far more aren't getting the exercise they need.

City’s Swedish study tour set to lift off

Chronicle-Herald, October 8
Author: Michael Lightstone

Five [Halifax Regional Municipality] municipal staffers and a lone regional councillor will be in Sweden on a study tour of sustainability efforts going on in a progressive country with a global reputation for such endeavours. And bicycles are on the visitors’ itinerary.

Is it Safe to Let Your Kids Walk to School?

US News & World Report, October 9
Author: Nancy Shute

So why aren't more kids walking to school? Sadly enough, because it's considered a radical act at the moment. When I was growing up, the majority of children walked to school. In the rest of the world, it's a given. It's only here that we see a block or two walk as too dangerous:

My friend lives in Chappaqua, N.Y., and the children are not allowed off the bus unless a preapproved adult is waiting for them.

Children in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., are not allowed to ride their bikes to school even with parents.

Some places now think that the school bus stop is too far from some homes, and so they're having the bus stop at each house.

Bikes and the bad-for-business rap

As long as cities have been planning for bicycle traffic, business owners have complained that bike lanes, bike parking, and other bike-related facilities hurt their business. The thinking goes like this: Car access equals business success. Do anything to decrease that access — like remove car parking, narrow or remove car lanes for bikeways, or install traffic calming measures like medians or speed bumps — and the result is less business.

However, there are recent academic and real life examples that seem to prove that bike access is good for business.

Scots Government cycle tax idea abandoned, October 7
Author: Richard Peace

The idea of a 'road tax' on cyclists, floated by Scottish Government civil servants last month, appears to have been abandoned almost immediately.

Bike path to link coastline

JoongAng Daily, October 14
Author: Moon Gwang-lip

The 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) of coastline on the west, south and east of Korea will soon be covered by bike lanes, according to the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Plans are in place to build paths linking all three coastlines in South Korean territory beginning as early as next year, the ministry announced yesterday. A 12-member task force of ministry officials, private bicycle enthusiasts and traveling writers will set off today on a two-month field trip to scout the route of the bike lane, the ministry said.

Dutch move into fast lane with 'bicycle highways'

Bicycle highways are broad cycling paths without intersections which allow cyclists to quickly cover long distances. The ministry plans to double the number of such highways in the Netherlands over the cabinet period.

At present, the Netherlands has five bicycle highways, including two connecting Amsterdam with Utrecht and Breda with Etten-Leur. There are currently plans for a bicycle highway connecting The Hague with Leiden and Arnhem with Nijmegen.

For the Danes, city planning is all about the bike

Globe and Mail, October 13
Author: Gary Mason

When you think of rush hours in major world centres, you imagine cars inching along, going nowhere fast. But the morning and afternoon commute in Copenhagen is something else entirely. It is a spectacle involving tens of thousands of cyclists roaring down dedicated lanes in tight packs, past cars moving at half the speed, if at all.

Dubai building 6,000 bicycle parking spots

Arabian, October 17
Author: Elsa Baxter

Transport officials have announced plans for 6,000 bicycle parking spots across Dubai to encourage people to incorporate this healthier way to travel in their daily routine.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How to Get More Bicyclists on the Road

Scientific American, October 2009
Author: Linda Baker

Getting people out of cars and onto bicycles, a much more sustainable form of transportation, has long vexed environmentally conscious city planners. Although bike lanes painted on streets and automobile-free “greenways” have increased ridership over the past few years, the share of people relying on bikes for transportation is still less than 2 percent, based on various studies. An emerging body of research suggests that a superior strategy to increase pedal pushing could be had by asking the perennial question: What do women want?

Ontario expands e-bike rules

Ontario will continue to allow electric bikes on its roads after the end of a three-year pilot project, but the province is imposing a few new safety rules.

E-bikes will be allowed on most roads throughout the province, but will not be permitted on 400-series highways, expressways or other areas where bicycles are not allowed. Municipalities will be able to decide where e-bikes may be used on their streets, bike lanes and trails.

Transport Futures Conference, November 12-13

You are cordially invited to Transport Futures 2009, an exciting continuation of the road pricing dialogue initiated at our 2008 Forum. Two interactive workshops will focus on the public's perception of road pricing and how diverse stakeholders can discuss this complex issue in a meaningful way.

You won't want to miss these workshops if you work or have an interest in transportation policy/planning/engineering, goods movement, transit, cycling/walking, energy, climate change, infrastructure, asset management, agriculture, urban planning/development, tourism, engineering, law, health, social justice, taxation, business/trade, finance/economics, education, social marketing, politics and/or sustainability.

TDM Summit 2009 in Toronto, November 15-18

ACT Canada’s Summit 2009 is the premier event for Transportation Demand Management (TDM) professionals and practitioners in Canada, with three jam-packed days of discussion, innovation, networking and resource sharing. With the conference themed "To our Health, Wealth and Community," there will be an overarching focus on both personal and economic health and development. Develop your skills and knowledge in the TDM field, meet other professionals with similar roles and focus, learn and share best practices from across the country, and help shape strategy and direction for Canada's only national non-profit TDM organization.

Residents fight paving of trails

Wasaga Sun, Author: Trina Berlo

Mark Wolfe has circulated a petition against the paving of a trail that runs through the Silver Birch Estates subdivision, claiming the work will ruin the natural beauty of the trail and necessitate the removal of trees.

City seeks your input on Transportation Plan

Revelstoke Times Review, September 28
Author: Aaron Orlando

Do you want more public transit? Bike lanes? Safety improvements at dangerous intersections? More bike racks? More (or less) parking in the downtown area? A new bridge over the Illecillewaet or Columbia? Now is the time to provide your input.

The City of Revelstoke planning department will be putting together a transportation plan in the coming months that will guide transportation policy in the city over the next 20 years, and they want to hear your concerns and ideas.

City sets aside $20 million for new bike paths

The Manitoban, September 21
Author: Sarah Petz

“This is a huge step up for the active transportation program, not only because it boasts 37 different projects. They were 37 of the most important ones, and some of them will affect the University of Manitoba,” said Kevin Nixon, Active Transportation Coodinator for the City of Winnipeg Public Works Department.

Pelham walkability group to produce top 10 list

Welland Tribune, September 23

Bea Clark, chair of the Pelham Active Transportation Committee, said her group next month will put forward list of top 10 problem areas for walkers, cyclists and wheelchair users in Pelham.

Clark made a presentation to council Monday outlining the work of the committee over the past year. It included community outreach and education programs, such as providing information at Pelham Farmers' Market, Pelham Public Library, Canada Day and in neighbourhoods around the town.

Halton municipalities endorse Pedestrian Charter

The Georgetown Independent, September 17

The Halton Hills’ Pedestrian Charter was endorsed by Town Council this past June and aligns with the other municipalities in Halton region. Pedestrian Charters will be posted in a variety of locations throughout Halton Hills and can be found online:

The Charter encourages a walking culture in all parts of town. It speaks to a vision of a walkable community and addresses values related to safety, the environment, landuse planning and quality of life.

Do your share in cycling revolution

The Gazette (Montreal), September 21
Author: Michelle Lalonde

Montreal is experiencing a cycling revolution - a "vélo-rution" if you will - and no revolution is easy. Nobody has any overall numbers yet, but it is clear to anyone who travels Montreal's streets on a regular basis that the number of cyclists in this city has shot up over the past couple of years.

Ontario's largest skateboard park set to open, October 2
Author: Patty Winsa

The 6,500-square-metre facility is designed for street skateboarders, the kind who prefer downtown spaces where they can jump stairs or ride the edge of a bench on the metal underside of their boards.

The idea is to "give it the look and feel of an authentic street stop because street skating is so popular. It's the founding principle of our design," says Bill Gurney of LANDinc Sports, the company that designed the park in concert with Spectrum Skatepark Creations.

[But can they skateboard to the park on city sidewalks? - MH]

S.F. skateboarder vs. SFPD officer

San Fransisco Chronicle, September 30
Authro: Justin Berton

In the past two days, a video of a San Francisco police officer arresting a skateboarder named Zach Stow has gone viral, prompting an online controversy: Did Stow deserve to be handcuffed and arrested, and was the arresting officer out of line when he threatened to break Stow's arm "like a twig" if he resisted?

Read more:

[Another example of the results of attempts of municipalities to block a form of physical activity selected by young people for themselves. Note the officer's recitation of where skateboarding is not permitted. -MH]

Italy's New Bike Buying Incentive Scheme is Super Success

Under its EcoIncentive scheme the Italian government has allocated another 7.6 million euro to spur consumer purchases of bicycles, and just two hours after the start, already 2,000 bicycles were sold with a total government subsidy of 230,000 euro!

[In Canada we subsidize car purchases; in Italy, bicycles. - MH]

Sands Street Gets a Sassy, Center-Median Cycletrack, September 24
Author: Clarence Eckerson, Jr.

Chalk up more bikeway innovation to the folks at the NYC Department of Transportation. Now nearly complete, the Sands Street approach to the Manhattan Bridge is now safer and more enjoyable thanks to a first-of-its-kind in NYC: a center-median, two-way, protected bike path.

[There is an interesting video that accompanies this short article. - MH]

The future of Dubai Metro

Time Out Dubai, September 6

It is planned to have 1,300km of bicycle tracks by 2020, with a ‘major part of the bike network to be in place over the next three years’, says Abdulmohsin Ibrahim Younes, the RTA’s CEO of Strategy and Corporate Governance. Plus, he says the RTA is considering a free public bicycle service in the near future – like in Paris and Barcelona.