On May 8th, a bunch of our members sent the following letter on the new Term of Council Priorities to City of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and all Ottawa City Councillors. On May 9th, Joanne Chianello, city affairs columnist with The Ottawa Citizen, wrote an excellent opinion piece on the same subject titled "Mayor's 'strategic initiatives' short on vision — and consultation"; here is a relevant excerpt:
"And here’s arguably the worst thing about this crop of strategic initiatives: They include a number of items that most reasonable observers would assume were already funded, or have no business being called a new initiative.
Perhaps the most egregious example is the inclusion as a strategic initiative of $4.6 million that is supposed to be spent this year on cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. That biking and walking plan was an integral part of a massive transportation strategy approved by council in 2013. Councillors were rightly shocked to discover those funds were not set aside in the main budget."
Below is the letter we sent; if you too agree with some or all of our priorities, get in touch with the Mayor and let him know
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel.: (613) 580-2496
Dear Mayor Jim Watson, May 8, 2015
As members of the Healthy Transportation Coalition, we are writing to express our concern that spending related to the City’s Transportation Master Plan, including pedestrian and cycling mobility, are being included as part of the Strategic Initiatives debate instead of the City’s core budget. We urge you to move these items to the City’s 2016 Budget to uphold commitments made in the 2013 Transportation Master Plan, and ensure sufficient funding is spent in these areas every year.
We felt Ottawa took important steps toward a healthier and more sustainable multi-modal transportation system with the 2013 Transportation Master Plan. Some of the measures in the Plan, such as transit-oriented development, expanded pedestrian and cycling networks, and a complete streets policy, are very much supported by our members and citizens of Ottawa.
Transit and active transportation are core parts of the City’s transportation system, and their funding should be treated as core parts of the city’s budget. The 2013 Transportation Master Plan committed $70 million from 2013 to 2031 to improve the cycling network, and $66 million for pedestrian infrastructure, $40 million for multi-use paths, and billions for Light Rail Transit.
However, the serious infrastructure deficit across the country demonstrates that Canadian cities cannot approach transportation from a business-as-usual perspective. We reiterate our request of October 2014 that the City of Ottawa, as part of its Term of Council Priorities, initiate a study to research different options related to a user-pay approach to roads. We believe that looking at new options to manage and fund roads will create a more innovative and sustainable transportation system, one that is more welcoming to all users.
In summary, we ask Ottawa City Council to:
• Ensure that Budget 2016 includes core funding for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure improvements;
• Spend $3.5 million on the Pedestrian Facilities Program in 2015;
• Create a protected bicycle lane network throughout the city;
• Spend $20 million a year on cycling, matching the overall transportation budget to the per cent of people currently riding their bikes;
• Implement a low-income public transit pass accessible to all residents whose income is less than the Low Income Cut Off (and work toward free public transit for those on social assistance [Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program]); and
• Commit to studying user-pay for roads as part of its Term of Council Priorities.
Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your response to this letter and the specific requests contained within it.
Robin McAndrew, Acting Associate Executive Director, Sandy Hill Community Health Centre
Wanda MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre
Catherine Doolan, Board President, Centretown Community Health Centre
Dianne Breton, Chair, Ottawa Seniors Transportation Commitee, The Council on Aging of Ottawa
Kat Fortin, Chair, Ottawa ACORN Board of Directors
Mark Tremblay, Ph.D., D.Litt. (hons), FACSM
Director, Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute
Scientist and Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa
David Sweanor, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law, Common Law, University of Ottawa
Special Lecturer, Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham
Erwin Dreessen & Nicole DesRoches, co-chairs, Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital
John Woodhouse, Chair of the Steering Committee, Walk Ottawa
Trevor Haché, worker, Healthy Transportation Coalition
The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) releases today its 11th http://itsyourmove.tcat.ca/video/nadieng Please support us by spreading the word about our campaign! Tweet about it: @TCATonline #ItsYourMove Share it on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TCATonline Or share it on your blog with this embed code: K Godkewitschuntitle-HDvimeo from TCAT on Vimeo. http://itsyourmove.tcat.ca/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">video from the It`s Your Move series, featuring Nadien Godkewitsch, Manager of Programs at the Toronto Community Foundation (TCF).
TCF recognized early on the need to improve conditions for active transportation in Toronto and how these improvements would affect the social fabric, health and well-being of communities across the city. Through their 2013 Toronto’s Vital Signs report, they articulated the disconnect between Toronto`s cycling infrastructure goals and the reality of inaction.
"At the current rate of construction, it will take more than 270 years to build the 459km of new bike lanes that Toronto plans to build." - Toronto`s Vital Signs, 2013
TCF has been instrumental in supporting innovative programs and research to increase active transportation. To date, TCF`s grants have supported numerous innovative community engagement initiatives including a landmark study on walkability in Toronto’s tower neighbourhoods, a Canadian active transportation benchmarking report, and a cycling skills program for newcomers to Canada. In 2007, TCF provided founding support to TCAT, making it possible for TCAT to hire its first coordinator, and in 2008 provided matching support for TCAT’s initial “Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business” study (TCAT released its third study on this topic last month.)
Nadien`s video highlights the community benefits of increased walking and cycling. With dedicated funding for active transportation infrastructure projects, we can multiply these community benefits and accelerate the pace of action towards improving quality of life throughout the region. As Ontario municipalities approach a fall election, her message for residents is to get informed on where municipal candidates stand when it comes to walking and cycling. Stay tuned for the upcoming release of TCAT’s 2014 municipal election survey, done in collaboration with Toronto Environmental Alliance, Cycle Toronto, Walk Toronto and Canada Walks, which provides Toronto candidates’ positions on 12 election priorities for walking, cycling and public transit.
The Big Move, Metrolinx’s 25-year regional transportation plan to dramatically improve transportation in the GTHA, includes 25% for local transportation initiatives.It`s Your Move is a strategic partnership with Metrolinx designed to promote the importance of allocating a dedicated portion of this 25% for walking and cycling projects. Each video in the 12-part series features a leader living in Halton, York, Peel, Durham, Hamilton or Toronto and shares personal and professional stories about the benefits of active transportation.
Watch Nadien`s video here: http://itsyourmove.tcat.ca/video/nadieng
The Cities That Spend The Most On Bike Lanes Later Reap The Most Reward
Investing in a network of fully separated bike lanes could save cities huge sums in the long-term. But too little investment in wimpy infrastructure could actually decrease enthusiasm for cycling.
As a new resident in Centretown, an avid cyclist and bike commuter I thought I might try to get a discussion rolling on two wheeled transportation within as well as to and from this central neighbourhood.
For an able-bodied cyclist who likes to race cars, Centretown can be a pleasure to ride in. Biking is the fastest, most convenient way to get around its grid-pattern streets and find free parking on its many bike racks. Cyclists also enjoy relatively low-speed car traffic and many amenities within minutes.
This last spring, my view of this seemingly idylic set of conditions changed dramatically this when a car door opened in front of me while I was riding down Bank St. Luckily there were no cars in the adjacent lane and I ended up with only two very sore knees where they hit the inside of the door. It occurred to me that this accident was preventable with the right infrastructure. As good as biking in Centretown is it would be a lot safer with the implementation of a neighbourhood-wide bike plan based on a network of bike lanes.
There are some great opportunities for new lanes on some of the larger roads. This being said, bus traffic is a definite barrier to implementing bike lanes on Bank St and to a lesser degree Somerset West. Also, the prevalence of on-street parking means that dooring continues to be a risk wherever bikers find themselves between traffic and parked cars. New bike lanes should take these things into account .
The issue of on-street parking is one of the many considerations shaping the discussion on the upcoming O'Connor Bikeway. The current study has asked participants to imagine a redesigning of O’Connor that maintains two lanes of one-way traffic without changes to the current curb lines. At its widest between Laurier and Gladstone, O’Connor can accommodate two lanes of moving cars, bike lanes in both directions with a buffer and a lane of parking. Cutting out parking could provide additional bike space in this current phase or allow for other changes to the streetscape in a future remodelling which includes sidewalks. Since I occasionally take advantage of free parking on O’Connor during the weekends, my self-interest leans me towards keeping one lane of parking. Ideally, I would like to see a bi-directional bike path and parking on opposite sides of the street.
Somerset West is a natural candidate for dedicated lanes as it connects to the Somerset bridge to the East and basically goes all the way to Westboro (albeit with some name changes as it turns into Wellington and Richmond). In the summer, I see more people biking on Somerset than I see on the Laurier bike lanes, especially East of Bank. West of Bank, bus traffic on Somerset West is an issue but I believe that, with good design, bike lanes and buses can co-exist as long as buses have space to turn into stops.
What other corridors could make up a Centretown bike network? There are already some lanes on Percy and Bay though these are in poor repair and end at Somerset. Personally, I think Kent is a good candidate as it extends from the Queensway to Wellington. Like O’Connor, Kent has parking on two sides of the street, though the parking on the West side north of Somerset seems underused. As on O’Connor, I think a bi-directional bike path would really positively affect transportation patterns on that side of Bank.
In many ways, biking in Centretown is much better than many other areas in Ottawa. Ironically this is partly due to how many cars use it but is also influenced by more subtle factors such as the prevalence of one way streets, its almost perfectly flat topography and the general character of the neighbourhood. Ultimately, for me, it is the fast access to amenities such as groceries, the library, city hall as well as the canal and other public places (Dundonald Park) that really make it a bikeable neighbourhood despite serious safety issues.
Because of its relatively high bikeability, it is hard for me to say that Centretown urgently needs a comprehensive bike network. Relatively-speaking we are well served and other neighbourhoods have a much greater need to foster active transport. Hopefully the Coalition becomes a powerful voice to this effect.
Please comment or start your own thread. I’d love to start a discussion on these blogs about biking or other transportation-related issues in Centretown.
What do people think about street parking and buses? What streets should/should not become bike corridors?
One of the stated goals of the Healthy Transportation Coalition is to have 'complete streets' leading to and from important places such as public transit stations, local schools, green spaces and business areas.
Complete Streets, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the basic idea that our streets should really serve everyone, no matter their age, their abilities, or their preferred mode of transportation. The City of Ottawa passed a Complete Streets 'policy' when it updated its Transportation Master Plan in late 2013.
And, given the City's stated commitment to encourage people to take the most sustainable/healthy modes of transportation (that is, to travel by foot, bike, public transit, private automobiles [with that last one being the least preferred]) I was curious to find out what my local city councillor's position was on the subject.
Sadly, I was very disappointed with what I learned:
But, then I read this tremendous rebuttal and it made me feel a little bit better:
I am looking forward to speaking with my fellow Ward 23 - Kanata South residents, to invite them to join the Healthy Transportation Coalition, and to learn from them about where they would like to see their first new complete street built here.
Personally, my preference is for Eagleson Road, since better bike and pedestrian access provided by a complete street leading to the Eagleson Park n' Ride Transitway stop should help encourage more area people to ride public transportation.
Would it not also be amazing if there were VrtuCars, made possible by an Ottawa company, available at the Park n' Ride, too... and some sheltered bike parking?
I could go on, but, suffice to say, we need many improvements in Kanata South before we have a truly healthy transportation network here.