Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Two interesting reports on benchmarking active transportation and cycling on arterials

From the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation:

TCAT Releases Two New Research Reports
With support from the Toronto Community Foundation, TCAT is pleased to announce two new research reports today examining the state of active transportation in Toronto.

The first report titled
Benchmarking Active Transportation in Canadian Cities compared the performance of active transportation in Toronto against other cities in Canada, the United States and Europe using key indicators as benchmarks. Among the study’s findings:

•Cities with more kilometres of bicycle facilities have a higher active transportation mode share
•In cities with high mode shares, the percentage of cyclists and pedestrians injured and killed is lower than in cities with low mode shares, thus confirming the “safety in numbers” theory
•The cities with the lowest active transportation mode shares also have the highest private automobile shares
•Cities in jurisdictions with low gas taxes tend to have low active transportation levels and higher private automobile mode shares

The second report
Building Better Cycling in Cities: Lessons for Toronto examined how to accommodate cyclists on arterial roads. Since these streets carry a high volume of high-speed motor vehicles, providing safe passage for cyclists is especially critical.

Case studies from Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Portland, New York City and Berlin demonstrated how policies and practices improve cycling arteries. Suitable bicycle facilities and sufficient bikeway networks along with policies that support cycling are important in creating safe and convenient cycling arteries in cities.

Researcher and lead author Ada Chan summarizes the report: “As one of the world’s major cities, Toronto should be in the forefront of cycling innovations. The new mayor and city councilors in the upcoming term have lots of opportunities to transform the city into a leading urban cycling centre to increase cycling mode share and cycling safety for Toronto residents.”

The first report is interesting in that it begins to lay out measurable criteria for evaluating communities on whether or not the built environment and policies and programs support active transportation. The second report is important because it pulls together in one document most of the best practices on "cycling arteries."

The cycling "superhighways" in London demonstrate that calling a bike lane a "superhighway" even if it is painted blue implies a level of dedicated infrastructure, that if not present, doesn't serve bicyclists very well.

Note that the hullaballoo over cycletracks on Pennsylvania Avenue, and the initial contraflow cycletrack on 15th Street, that has been since converted to a bi-directional cycletrack, and is now being extended (see "15th Street Cycletrack parking berms" and "Headed south along 15th St. at G St. NW" from Washcycle) shows that DC can do best practice.

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