Thursday, December 30, 2010

Contact List Deleted

One of the problems with being an "older adult", is that I am occasionally befuddled by technology that is new to me. Such was the case this week, when I finally acquired a Blackberry. Hesitantly, as "older adults" often do, I played with the various functions, trying to learn how they operated without causing lights to flash, bells to ring, and whatever subsequent disaster this signified.

Well, if only lights had sounded, I might have slowed down before I deleted almost the entire e-mail list for the "Active Transportation-Canada" listserv.

Yes, while going through my e-mail options on my phone I noticed that the address book was packed with almost 1,000 names, both from my personal and my professional account. "How cluttered, " I thought. "I will never be e-mailing all these people from my Blackberry." So I deleted them, one by one, thinking that it was from my handheld device only. As you by now understand, it was not.

So, the AT-Canada list has considerably shrunken - to fewer than 25 addresses from nearly 600. If you are readig this, and wish to receive periodic (once or twice a month) updates on the posting of new articles, please send an e-mail to me at I wish to know your first and last names, your city of residence (and country, if not Canada), and, of course, your e-mail address.

Thank you, and Happy New Year.

The New Class Warfare over Bicycles

In Vancouver the pro-car crowd criticizes the Hornby bike lane by claiming to stand up for small business.

In Toronto, after being sworn in as new mayor, Rob Ford declares an end to the "war on cars." He plans to block a light-rail line and to abolish a $60 vehicle registration fee. Don Cherry congratulates him for rising up against the "elite" and slams "bike-riding pinkos" who supposedly once ran the city.

In Montréal a new political party that won office a year ago in the Plateau Mont-Royal borough begins to widen sidewalks, add bike paths and close some streets to traffic. For doing so, critics accuse them of engaging in class warfare.

[Excellent article, well worth reading in full. If you enjoy this, you might also enjoy: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar -MH]

Don Cherry is nothing but a phoney

There he is in Toronna, old Sour Grapes himself, invited to the inauguration of that Chris Farley reincarnation Rob Ford, decked out in a jacket of Liberace pink, dripping sarcasm and hatred with all his soul. "Put that in your pipe and smoke it, ya left-wing kooks," Don Cherry bellows, among other sweet nothings to issue from the loudest mouth in Canada.

The lingo is a half-century old and mostly American, left over from political battles now in the history books. "Pinkos." "Tree huggers." "Left-wing kooks." But the hatred, and the ugliness it fosters, is very much alive. The problem is not so much what Cherry says (we're accustomed to the bile he spews every time he opens his mouth), it's where he says it.

Like his appearance at the coronation of Ford, whose first act as mayor was to flush down the toilet the $130 million Toronto has already spent to modernize and upgrade its transit system. Public transit, in the eyes of Ford and Cherry, is for bike-riding sissies, like the minimum-wage, blue-collar workers who rely on a transit system to get to work.

[Read more by clicking the title, the link to the full article. -MH]

Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation Year in Review

2010 was a busy and productive year for TCAT. Read all about it in their "year-in-review" article on their Website.

More bicycling means safer streets

In July [the New Urban Network] published an article on a surprising trend in New York City — as bicycle use skyrockets, bicycle accidents are dropping. When many bicyclists are on the road, cycling safety improves substantially. This observation is consistent with data from other countries. Cycling is far safer in countries where bicycles are used more often — such as the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark (see graph at bottom right).

Now comes data from Portland, Oregon, that suggests encouraging bicycle use leads to greater traffic safety in general. Check out the attached graphs [available with full article: click on title]. The one at top right shows the trend in bicycle use versus crashes in Portland. The bicycle use is counted across four major bridges connecting to downtown (these increases have also been documented in other parts of the city). Bicycle trips have more than tripled since 1991.

Montreal - More people cycling, thanks to bike paths

Bicycle use has increased by as much as 40 per cent since 2008 in areas of Montreal where the city has invested in bike paths or lanes, according to a new McGill University study.

Cycling as transportation option is on a roll in D.C.

Drivers in the District could be sharing the roadways with more cyclists as the city expands its network of dedicated bicycle lanes and increases the number of bikes available in a regional program. Dedicated lanes were designed to protect the riders and to increase the number of people who consider bicycling as a mode of transportation, Sebastian said. "This is not bicycling for the sake of bicycling," he said. "We view bicycling as part of our transportation system, like the Circulator [bus service] and Metrorail. We want to give people an alternative."

Newsletter - European Greenways Info

With news of trail openings and events from across Europe, this newsletter might be of some general interest. -MH

Snowshoes perfect for stomping through snowy woods

Why stay indoors because of a little snow?

Website - Green Exercise

Interesting Website with a newly published research study and book: Nature and Culture: Rebuilding Lost Connections, Edited by Sarah Pilgrim and Jules Pretty. July 2010. Earthscan, London.

Bracebridge ON - Town shuffles committee structure

Last week, council voted to dissolve several existing committees, streamline others and draw up terms of reference for several new ones. Among the new additions, staff was requested to create terms of reference for advisory committees on active transportation, community recognition and the environment. Council also decided to pursue the creation of a facilities working group that will initiate planning on the replacement of the existing arena.

Walking in a city of cars

Although [Winnipeg] has been making strides in accommodating pedestrians and cyclists through traffic-calming barriers, active transportation paths and other measures, those who rely on two legs to get around still face formidable challenges in the age of four wheels. In the last 10 days alone, three people on foot have been killed and three injured in collisions with automobiles.

More than 4,000 Canadian pedestrians, including 166 in Manitoba, were killed crossing a street between 1992 and 2001, according to Transport Canada. Another 142,515 were injured, including 5,726 in Manitoba. Most, if not all, were preventable.

Editorial: Bixi is a gamble worth taking

The incredible popularity of Bixi in Montreal and cities around the world seems to have taken its backers by surprise. A year and a half after the bicycle-hire program was launched here, more than 14,000 of the sturdy bikes are in service on three continents.

What's ahead for Toronto's transit system?

The Transit City plan, with light rail at its core, was put on hold as the new decision makers crafted a new one. While Toronto prepares for 2011, the only thing certain about its transit future is that a new vision is being crafted that will take it underground.

Israel - New Cycle Path Inaugurated in Alon HaGalil

KKL-JNF has added a new single-track route to the Alon HaGalil cycle path in northern Israel. The new section, which is 11 kilometers long, forms part of a 43-kilometer system of cycling trails that includes both challenging single tracks for experienced riders and family routes for beginners.

The Jezreel Valley Regional Council, the Kishon Drainage Authority and the Alon HaGalil All-Terrain Center all partnered KKL-JNF in this project. The entire route was constructed by physical labor alone, in order to minimize damage to the surrounding landscape. Local residents and youngsters, recruits from the nearby army base, Bedouin soldier-teachers and the children of KKL-JNF staff members all helped the KKL-JNF professionals to construct the path.

[New bicycle paths are being constructed everywhere in the world. -MH]

Dutch Dealers Make Big Bucks with e-Bikes

Electric bicycles are now the biggest money-maker for dealers in the Netherlands. In the first six months of 2010 e-Bikes turned into the number one sales segment money-wise. Overall sales of electric bikes stood at 37.6% of the total turnover at dealers in the Netherlands.

Pelham to promote active transportation

The town’s General Committee approved adding the development of an Active Transportation Master Plan to the town’s 2011 capital budget at its Monday-night meeting. The plan will aim to improve and promote conditions for safe walking and cycling in the town. Specifically the plan will focus on providing a town-wide pedestrian and cycling network, mapping of routes, identification af suggested infrastructure improvements and strategies, policies and programs encouraging active transportation.

Study - Examining Walkability and Social Capital as Indicators of Quality of Life at the Municipal and Neighborhood Scales

While the health and environmental implications of walkable communities are being extensively studied, the social benefits have not been investigated as broadly. Through a case study approach this article argues that the generation and maintenance of social capital is another important component of quality of life that may be facilitated by living in a walkable community.

Montreal - City Puts $104 Million on line to back BIXI Business

The city of Montreal has maintained that taxpayers will never pay a cent for Bixi. But if the bicycle-sharing service flops, the city could be on the hook for as much as $104 million after it agreed to guarantee the network’s loans and credit lines last week.

But city executive committee member Manon Barbe says it’s worth the risk, because Bixi has proven very popular locally, and its international sales are boosting Montreal’s reputation and will eventually finance the service’s growth in Montreal. “It’s a great Montreal success story – 30,000 members, 3.3 million trips taken (locally) last year. Everybody wants it in their neighbourhood,” said Barbe, who is responsible for transportation.

[How does this compare with what your city has "put on the line' for cycling? -MH]

Ireland - Local authorities required to promote travel by bicycle

Local authorities are to be required to include specific policies in their development plans to encourage travel by bicycle and to enable the creation of safe and efficient networks of cycle routes, especially in urban areas.

Minister of State for transport CiarĂ¡n Cuffe has designated the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009-2020 to be related to proper planning and sustainable development under the Planning Acts. The policy requires that all local authority development plans must seek to minimise travel distances and create high-quality cycle and pedestrian networks.

[With the exception of Quebec, have we seen anything at all similar in Canada? -MH]

US - Active Transportation Strategy: Preparing for the 112th Congress

This document summarizes Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s sense of the federal policy-making context facing active transportation proponents as the 112th Congress convenes in January 2011. [They] provide some initial thoughts on next steps and the role of state-and community-based partners to facilitate [their] own thinking and planning.

[Canadian advocates might learn something from the advocacy approach demonstrated by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in this document. -MH]

Upcoming Conference - Transport Futures Mobility Pricing Conference

Taking place in Toronto on Thursday, February 3rd, the conference will expand our road pricing focus to include three other major mobility fees: parking fees, gas taxes and transit fares.

International research and experience has demonstrated that transport-based user fees can be set by government in order to modify driver behavior, raise earmarked revenue for transportation infrastructure and assist in making bureaucracies more efficient, transparent and accountable to the public.

Study - Criterion distances and correlates of active transportation to school in Belgian older adolescents

Abstract of a study conducted among school-age children in Flanders in Belgium to determine what an appropriate distance is for promoting Active Transportation.

Very brief reference, but the article title, authors, and journal are mentioned if you wish more detail.

Video - History of Cycle Paths in the Netherlands

An interesting five minute video that gives some background on the Dutch history of bike trail development.

City wins provincial Walkability Award of Excellence

The City of Brantford has earned itself bragging rights for yet another walkability-related distinction: the Ontario Walkability Award of Excellence! This award celebrates the efforts that the City has taken over the last few years in promoting walkability. The Brantford Active Transportation Group (formerly the Brantford Walkability Task Force), submitted the application, which covered such topics as measurable results, community engagement, evaluation, partnerships and collaboration, education, policy and planning, and infrastructure.

Presentation - Visualising Bike Share (Worldwide)

A presentation showing the trends in bike share programs worldwide.

Fort Erie unveils skatepark

It has been a long time coming, but the Fort Erie Skatepark is now a reality. In fact some youth from around town were so excited they were getting a head start before the construction fences had been removed.

US - Crosswalk Marking Field Visibility Study

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration has released a TechBrief that investigates the relative daytime and nighttime visibility of three crosswalk marking patterns--transverse lines, continental, and bar pairs.

Huntsville City Councilman Will Culver determined to stop pedestrian deaths on University Drive

Huntsville City Councilman Will Culver said it's past time to fix a jaywalking problem that has claimed the lives of three pedestrians in the past decade. "The evidence here shows that this is a dangerous area that we've got to do something about," Culver said Thursday. "My biggest nightmare is waking up and seeing a police cruiser attending to the death of a child on University Drive."

The safety effect of exchanging car mobility for bicycle mobility

A recent study published by researchers from the Netherlands.

Walkolution E-news Fall 2010

This Walkolution E-newsletter, combining updates on our work with children and youth (Active & Safe Routes to School) as well as news regarding walkable communities, is full of inspiring and thoughtful updates regarding walking issues in Ontario and across Canada.