Monday, May 31, 2010

Walk this way

At one point or another, we've all had to pound the pavement - but don't look at it as a chore. Rather, it can be a new way to explore cities across Canada.

Pairing up with, WestJet's in-flight magazine, up!, looked at the 10 Most Walkable Cities in Canada in its May 2010 issue.

Open street festivals held in Sydney, Glace Bay

A pair of open street festivals were held in both Sydney and Glace Bay Saturday to promote the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s active transportation plan, which launched this month.

Walking the walk in Toronto: Granatstein

The battle of the bike. The war on the car. The fight for our streets. It’s a compelling storyline of the 2010 Toronto election. One thing is very clear. Toronto is not a bike city. Toronto is a transit city — with 1.5 million riders a day. Toronto is a car city.

UK - cycling Digest


Trail friendly plans for Dufferin

The county has teamed up with Headwaters Communities in Action (HCIA) to make it easier for Dufferin’s hikers, bikers and walkers to travel around the area.

The municipality and community group — in consultation with other local groups, residents and municipalities — have created the Dufferin County Active Transportation and Trails Master Plan.

Cyclist's video showcases dangerous drivers

A frustrated St. John's man taped a camera to his helmet for a year to capture proof of how dangerous the city's streets can be for cyclists.

"I decided to get a helmet cam because too many cars were running me off the road, and I never have a witness," said Luke Rae.

Cape Breton Regional Municipality to launch Active Transportation Plan this week

The CBRM initiated its Active Transportation (AT) Plan in the fall of 2007, after recognizing a growing awareness on auto-dependent lifestyles that affect both the environment and individual health.

With the assistance of an AT committee and input from stakeholder consultations, a vision to improve the health of CBRM citizens was made by creating opportunities to connect communities through walking, rolling and cycling in a manner that will sustain social, economic and environmental benefits.

On a pink bicycle in Amsterdam

Very cute video.

Easy riders: On bikes, we can go our own way

MORE THAN a thousand bicycles are jammed onto the ferry as it pulls into the Bainbridge Island dock on this unseasonably warm winter day. Nervous as racehorses at the gate, the cyclists champ and stir next to their bikes, lightly touching their handlebars as cleats click out a steady beat on the deck.

Study: Portland businesses believe in bike parking benefits

A preliminary study of Portland's on-street bike parking corrals shows they've got widespread support from nearby business owners. The report also found that business owners perceive one out of every four of their customers arrive by bike.

Thunder Bay has two seasons – Winter and Construction

The City of Thunder Bay’s Active Transportation Plan will see the first dedicated bike lanes along Court Street between Fort William Road and Gibson Street operational this month. New parking restrictions will be in effect in some areas from May 1 to Nov.14. Watch for signage and new pavement markings. Future work on the Active Transportation Plan includes dedicated bike lanes on Walsh Street from James Street to Syndicate Avenue and on Syndicate Avenue from Brock Street to Walsh Street. Shared bike lanes are planned for the entire length of Fassina Street and along John Street from Junot to Algonquin Avenue.

"Stroll" proves Toronto is as much a walking city as Paris

Most people don’t think of Toronto as a great walking city like New York, Paris or London. Torontonians, Mr. Micallef says, are trained to be underwhelmed by their own city. He aims to wake them up. The way he sees it, psychogeography – the psychological reaction to geography – simply means “getting excited about place, paying attention to the places we go, just starting to think about these places we might pass through but that we take for granted.”

Health Impact Assessment of Congestion Pricing Policy in San Francisco, California

Health impact assessment (HIA) is a process whereby the health impacts of a proposed policy or program are systematically evaluated and summarized to inform decision-making. The objective of this project is to conduct an HIA of a proposed congestion pricing policy, which will charge drivers in specific areas or roadways during heavy traffic periods, in downtown San Francisco, CA. Assessment of baseline community health conditions and forecasting of potential health impacts will include Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Forecasting methods will be used to study impacts on future pedestrian conditions, active transportation, vehicle collisions, air pollution, and other health related factors.

Fredericton - Sharing the road with cyclists

Share the Road is not just a suggestion, it's the law. The New Brunswick Motor Vehicle Act Section 176 states: "Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this Act, except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application."

Australia - Cycle Network Program

The Queensland Government allocated A$556 million (in the South East Queensland Infrastructure Plan and Program 2007-2026) to be distributed over 20 years to develop a regional cycle network in south east Queensland. The main objective is to develop facilities that will encourage more sustainable transport modes, such as cycling, walking and the use of public transport.

Canadians Choose Driving Over Sex and Candy

The driving paradox: more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of Canadians know their driving has a negative environmental impact, but they are not likely to give up their vehicles even when they could easily use other forms of transportation (75 per cent). In fact, Canadians are more willing to give up their cell phones, TVs, Internet access, coffee, junk food, credit cards and for some, even sex, before they set aside their car keys.

Video - People, Parklets, and Pavement to Parks (plus Mojo Bicycle Café)

Taking the PARK(ing) Day concept to a more permanent, logical level, the Parklets Program has begun experimenting with trial spaces allowing businesses to convert parking spaces into outdoor public spaces and cafes. The first was installed in March outside the Mojo Bicycle Café on Divisdero Street where two parking spaces were reallocated to people-space; now cafe tables & chairs, benches, bike parking, and plants sit over a raised platform over the asphalt. If all goes well thru the evaluation period, the idea is to eventually turn the process into a regular permitting process that business groups and communities can apply for. It looks good: owners of Mojo say business is up 30% and they have had to hire more staff.

Fatalities put police focus on bike safety

A spate of fatalities has added a sense of urgency to the annual bicycle safety program being conducted by Montreal police.

Four cyclists have been killed and four more seriously injured in a series of accidents that began Friday.

Police said they will be increasing their presence on bike paths and at intersections often used by cyclists to make sure that they are respecting the rules of the road.

Mountain bikers take matters into own hands

The volunteers were building what will eventually be a beginner-level trail by cutting away any brush, weeds, roots and adding dirt. City crews had already gone in and cut a path through the north-east corner of the park.

White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President

In February, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let's Move! campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. As part of this effort, President Barack Obama established the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to develop and implement an interagency plan that details a coordinated strategy, identifies key benchmarks, and outlines an action plan to end the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. The action plan defines the goal of ending childhood obesity in a generation as returning to a childhood obesity rate of just 5 percent by 2030, which was the rate before childhood obesity first began to rise in the late 1970s. In total, the report presents a series of 70 specific recommendations, many of which can be implemented right away.

Video - Vancouver Adds Cycletrack to Burrard Bridge

It's been 15 years since Vancouver residents started petitioning for a bike lane on one of the bridges that connects to downtown. In the summer of 2009, the city implemented a test lane on the historic Burrard Bridge and almost immediately cycling was up 30%.

Cycling advocates and wheeled commuters explain the advantages to having a protected bicycle path. Recent reports seem to show most are happy with the implementation and residents favor continuing the trial by a margin of 2 to 1.

Vancouver driven to reallocate road space

Thirteen years ago, Vancouver set an explicit policy of not creating any more road space for cars – a policy that has earned it admiring attention abroad and some alarm at home that it was going to strangle itself economically.

Vancouver - Bike lobby still gripping city hall's handlebars

The social engineers at city hall, Mayor Gregor Robertson and Coun. Geoff Meggs among them, who have the hubris to believe they know better than regular citizens about how they should live their lives, had expected the figure would be 10 per cent by now. They're shocked and frustrated it is not, especially given all their efforts to promote cycling through the construction of bike lanes and their constant and frustrating erosion of the city's streets system.

Given that more than 96 per cent of residents -- voters, we might remind council -- haven't embraced cycling, you'd think they'd understand that a more democratic approach would be to halt further transfers of road space to bicycles from buses, trucks, cars and other motor vehicles, who already spend too much time idling in traffic thanks to our inefficient roads.

Cycling in New York: Innovative Policies at the Urban Frontier

New paper from John Pucher, Rutgers University

Urban Velo

Newsletter - Urban Velo

Nine habits of highly vital cities

Dan Buettner has spent the last seven years travelling the world's "Blue Zones," unusual places where people live longer than normal and remain relatively healthy and happy in their old age.

Known Blue Zones include a mountainous area of Sardinia, the island of Okinawa, the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, Icaria, Greece, and, surprisingly, a city in California. What is it about these places that support longer life? Buettner found nine things people who live in Blue Zones have in common.

Terms, mind-sets must be changed to encourage and enable more walking in cities

The time has come to acknowledge that walking will be an indispensable component of 21st-century transportation. Today's plans for urban and suburban growth envision walkways as a vital part of multi-modal transportation networks. Walking is great exercise and beneficial to health. Unlike cars, buses, trams and trains, walking consumes no fossil-fuel energy and leaves no carbon footprint. Equally important, walking can be a positive aesthetic experience.

The term "transit-oriented development" (TOD) paints an incomplete picture of state-of-the-art planning and urban design. The terminology should change, along with our mind-set. We should talk about and advocate multi-modal-transportation-oriented development.

Fort Erie - Council welcomes idea of active transportation committee

There are many other ways of getting to where you need to go, without using a motorized vehicle.

And on Monday night, town council unanimously supported the idea of forming a committee to promote "active transportation" in the community. This term refers to cycling, cross-country skiing, in-line skating and other means of self-propelled travel.

Montreal - Plateau to close 10 to 15 streets

Projet Montréal has unleashed another volley in its battle with cars in the Plateau.

Mayor Luc Ferrandez announced the borough will close off one of the Plateau's north-south streets to cars, and next year dig it up to expand a local park.

The move is a first step toward undoing decades of urban planning that favoured cars over people, Ferrandez said yesterday.

UK - Campaigners form human pedestrian crossing

Traffic was stopped by a human pedestrian crossing protest outside of a Derby primary school as part of a road safety campaign.

Council to begin work on new 10-year cycling plan for Vancouver

Recommendations for a new Vancouver Cycling Program Master Plan going to council later this week will not only add 55 kilometres of new, safer bike lanes and bike routes over the next two years, says Mayor Gregor Robertson, “they will lay the groundwork for a green transformation of the city’s pedestrian and cycle network.”

When work is completed, the city’s current 415-kilometre bike route network – already one of the best in North America – will have grown by 122 kilometres since 2008.

The report, scheduled to come to council on [May 5], will initiate the planning process for a new 10-year Cycling Program Master Plan for Vancouver. The report also includes recommendations for immediate investments in the City’s bike network for 2010 and 2011, with funding to:

- begin work and consultations on separated bike lanes outside of the downtown core;

- make spot improvements to existing bikeways to address safety and capacity concerns;

- implement the long-awaited Comox–Helmcken Greenway project to connect the Seawall, the West End and downtown to the Central Valley Greenway, which ends in New Westminster;

- implement the North Arm Trail Greenway, generally along 59th Avenue from West Boulevard to Vivian;

- create a new cross-town bikeway along 45th Avenue from Balaclava to Nanaimo;

- improve cycling connections to the Canada Line Bridge, which carries cycle traffic over the Fraser River to Richmond; and

- make improvements to on-street bicycle parking

The total investment in these projects will be about $25 million, or the equivalent of 30% of the $85 million streets and roads budget for the same period.

Getting on board at school

Get a high school credit to build skateboards? Sick.

Earn another learning how to sell those boards? Awesome.

Hill Park Secondary School is offering a two-credit skateboarding entrepreneurship class to engage teens who might love skateboarding, but not necessarily like school.

Toronto - City to cut idling limit to 1 minute

Toronto has moved to toughen its idling bylaw, slapping motorists with a $125 ticket if they are caught with engines running for more than a minute in what the city's medical officer of health acknowledges stems from efforts ''to shift people out of cars.''

Edmonton - Walkable City study proposes ways to encourage less driving

The city wants to get more people out of their cars and on their feet, walking to catch buses and the LRT and using "active transportation" to get around, says a report going to city councillors this week.

The report, called Walk Edmonton: Steps to a Walkable City, outlines ways the city could encourage walking. That includes better designing new neighbourhoods, building wide and smooth sidewalks with curb ramps, crosswalks and bus stop connections, running public-education campaigns, removing more snow from sidewalks, and building more densely developed neighbourhoods full of businesses and attractions that would give pedestrians reason to travel on foot.

Wider bicycle paths, fewer cars

The new city administration wants Amsterdam to remain Europe’s number 1 bicycle city. The area within the A10 ring road will have reduced car traffic and there will be more bicycle stands, waiting time indicators and green waves for cyclists. In addition, there a ‘moped policy’ will be developed. These measures have been announced in the coalition agreement presented last week by PvdA, GroenLinks and VVD.

"We will have to close some car lanes"

Some streets for cars in Ottawa's core may have to be converted into exclusive bike routes before cycling can become a popular form of commuting, the National Capital Commission's chief executive said Thursday.

Volkswagen's Folding Electric Bike

Volkswagen revealed this folding electric bike at Auto China 2010. It's called bik.e (pronunciation unclear) and it looks like there are actually plans to market this thing.

The specs: It's got a 12.5 mile range, a top speed of 12.5 mph, and can fold down to the size of a spare tire. No word on the cost or the charging time.

Winnipeg - Expanding the availability of, safety for, and access to a variety of transportation options and integrating health-enhancing choices into transportation policy has the potential to save lives by preventing chronic diseases, reducing and preventing motor-vehicle-related injury and deaths, improving environmental health, while stimulating economic development, and ensuring access for all people.

As part of its 2010 Active Transportation Stimulus program, the city recently announced a summer construction frenzy that will include four bikeway developments at Grosvenor Avenue, Harrow Street, Nassau Street and Fleet/Warsaw.

In the case of the Grosvenor Bikeway, several mini traffic circles will be placed along the route to help calm traffic in River Heights.

Not be confused with roundabouts, the traffic circles will effectively replace stop signs for a smoother ride.

CDC Transportation Recommendations

Motor vehicle travel has become safer over time, but motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for people ages 1–34. Improving the safety and efficiency of motor vehicles and their occupants is critical to improving transportation policy and the public’s health. Transportation policies are needed to improve the safety of motor vehicles and their occupants to prevent crashes, and advances in medical care are needed to increase the survivability of victims of crashes that do occur.

Expanding the availability of, safety for, and access to a variety of transportation options and integrating health-enhancing choices into transportation policy has the potential to save lives by preventing chronic diseases, reducing and preventing motor-vehicle-related injury and deaths, improving environmental health, while stimulating economic development, and ensuring access for all people.

With this goal in mind, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified transportation policies that can have profound positive impact on health. CDC supports strategies that can provide a balanced portfolio of transportation choices that supports health and reduces health care costs.

Petit-Rocher students stay active

There will be gym class every day for students in Petit-Rocher, N.B. "They have 50 minutes of phys ed per day," said Sylvain Godin, principal at Domaine Étudiant.


Ottawa City Council's recommendations for a study on sgregated bike lanes.

FASTthinkers Newsletter

FASTthinkers is the newsletter of Urbanthinkers and it's for - and from - people supporting children & youths to Facilitate Active School Travel.

Toronto - City’s bike plan switches gears

A 2009 Ipsos Reid cycling poll for the city supports his position. It suggests safer cycling routes could help transform up to 44 per cent of Toronto’s recreational cyclists into utilitarian pedallers.

A blueprint for the city’s active transportation priorities over the next two years, Changing Gears lists connecting bikeway trails and completing downtown bikeways as the top two priorities. It will be used as the basis for a review of the 2001 Bike Plan by city staff after this fall’s election.

Bike lane barriers considered for downtown Ottawa

City council is expected to consider on Wednesday the pilot project to create a segregated cycling lane. Public input and consultations would follow, after which a decision would be made about location. City officials said one option is to have barriers span a few blocks along Somerset.