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Recently, a European consultant asked a question that prompted some interesting thinking. Normally, we are focused on bringing European thinking on furthering cycling usage growth to this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Now, the thought of suggesting local techniques for European usage was an interesting twist.  more……

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From the Calgary Herald:

From the Calgary Herald:    “a proposal to allow bikes on Stephen Avenue Walk is drawing criticism” from the Calgary Downtown Association.  “Maggie Schofield, the executive director of the Calgary Downtown Association, supports much of the plan, but said allowing bikes on the popular pedestrian stroll on 8th Avenue S.W. will compromise the safety of pedestrians and a public amenity well-used by tourists in an area of downtown that is not popular with bicycle commuters.  “(Our concern) is totally about pedestrian safety,” Schofield said. “People are comfortable walking and not paying attention to this kind of thing. We have tourists and historical tours down there … we are worried about conflicts.”  ©Photograph by JL Chong, 2013  “a proposal to allow bikes on Stephen Avenue Walk is drawing criticism” from the Calgary Downtown Association.

“Maggie Schofield, the executive director of the Calgary Downtown Association, supports much of the plan, but said allowing bikes on the popular pedestrian stroll on 8th Avenue S.W. will compromise the safety of pedestrians and a public amenity well-used by tourists in an area of downtown that is not popular with bicycle commuters.

“(Our concern) is totally about pedestrian safety,” Schofield said. “People are comfortable walking and not paying attention to this kind of thing. We have tourists and historical tours down there … we are worried about conflicts.”

Read more ….

 

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©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

The distance from Vancouver BC to Seattle WA is about 230 km from downtown to downtown along major roads, expressway and interstate highway. Is it a dream that some day there may be a separated route for cyclists to make this journey?

Cycling from Toronto to Montreal can be done along the Waterfront Trail. These cities are about 550 kilometres apart. The trip can be cycled in 3 days to 5 days depending on one’s personal stamina. The trail has various forms of separation along the way including bike lanes and paved shoulders along with some minor roads with very light car traffic. The Province of Québec’s portion is on one of the La Route Verte’s routes.

A trail has been developed from London, England top Paris, France with the same type of infrastructure and a ferry crossing of the English Channel.

So, is it a dream to hope for a separated trail between Vancouver and Seattle or is it an emerging reality? While it may be more distance between the two cities by cycling than driving, already 40% of the direct distance has bike trails and additional distance can be covered on roads with bike-lanes and paved shoulders.

If one decides on the Anacortes, WA to Sidney, BC option, then the Anacortes Bike Route and the Lochside trail provides additional separated bike trail distances.

There is still 2.3 km of rail-trail to be completed on the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County. In Vancouver, cycling enthusiasts are calling for the development of the Arbutus rail-trail that would connect downtown to the bike path on the Canada Line Bridge to Richmond. Within Richmond, there is opportunity to extend the Shell Trail. In Surrey, a bike path through a bird sanctuary could be added to a cycling route reducing the distance on roads. There is work being done with First Nations and the local city on developing a trail from Blaine to Tsawwassen to Ladner and the George Massey Tunnel. All of these initiatives would move closer to the dream.

What other developments or cycling advocate visions are there to make a separated bike route between these two cities a reality, providing a cycling option for people of all ages, abilities, and cycling risk-taking?

The dream lives on while some trips between these two cities are being completed by cycling or by combined mobility trips using Amtrak Cascadia trains with its bike racks in the luggage cars and with reservable bike space. No longer is boxing a bike required on these trains. Just wheel your bicycle up to the luggage car and let the car attendant put it into a bike rack.

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H-JEH Becker, Velo.Urbanism, 2013

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013, unless otherwise noted. If you wish to expand the size of any image, then click on the image.

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2013-06-06

The last time I cycled from downtown Montreal, Quebec to the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport in Dorval, the last kilometre was a challenge or should I say a game of risk. 

Cycling out of Downtown Montreal is very pleasant, starting with separated bike lanes just a block from the hotel.  Then come the bike trail along the Lachine Canal that continued along the St. Lawrence River to Dorval.  The bike trail is also known as La Route Verte number 5 (http://www.routeverte.com/routeverte_carte/index.php?langue=en). 

Then the cycling infrastructure becomes a combination of bike lanes, bike trails, and separated bike lanes, past the airport to the Ontario provincial line.  From there the route becomes the Waterfront trail that follows the mighty St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario and Toronto and then on to Fort Erie.  Now, the trail continues along Lake Erie, the Detroit River, and Lake St. Clair to Detroit and to Sarnia and then along the Georgian Bay to Lakeshore. (1,400 km; http://www.waterfronttrail.org)
 

©Modified Googles Earth image by H-JEH Becker, 2013

©Modified Googles Earth image by H-JEH Becker, 2013

For this trip, the destination was a gate lounge in the airport.  So twenty-three kilometres from the heart of Montreal that is preparing for a car race this weekend, Rue de Dorval appears. 

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Suburbia, Signal Hill Calgary AB ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Suburbia, Signal Hill
Calgary AB
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

One way to look at the two options is the need to own a car (car dependency) or having a choice of whether one needs to own a car.  For suburban sprawl, it can be said that the right of choice, which we so treasure, is taken away from us and suburban city designs makes us prisoners to owning a car.  When we live in suburbia, how quickly we forget that choice of how we spent and enjoy about $10,000 per year, after tax, is not available to us.  It must be spent on a car, not on a nicer or larger house, not on pleasurable things we like to do.  When a home is an apartment, the decision to not have a car or to use car share allows about $30,000 to $50,000 to be spent on a nicer apartment or on other pleasures.

Setting aside the monetary perspective, for suburban sprawl it can be said that it is a retreat from people, from crowds, from street sounds, from simple access to vibrancy of cities.

Recently in the Calgary Herald,

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Recently, Dr. Eric Miller from the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Toronto spoke in Vancouver on the third revolution of transportation within cities.  If he had been teaching back when I was there I might have focused more on transportation and urban planning than trying to learn how to design large buildings and bridges. In hindsight, it is amusing to reflect that I moved into transportation, the movement of goods, three years after receiving my undergraduate degree.

Canada Line at Yaletown TransLink, Vancouver BC ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Canada Line at Yaletown
TransLink, Vancouver BC
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

He talked about how revolutions in transportation have effected the shaping of cities.  The first two revolutions, wheel on steel (rail) and then car-based, meant more speed in transporting people allowing for homes to be farther removed from employment and facilitating creation of urban sprawl.  The third revolution, the one that we are in now, is different as it is not about technology advances.  It is about social forces and drivers.  It is about the rebalancing of transportation options.  The last revolution was car based, speed based, that created such a demand for road space for cars that cannot be satisfied physically in cities, both from responsible land use and financial health of city governments.  Now, a correction is needed.  Yet continuously, there are still initiatives by governments, landowners, and developers to run against the fact that car growth is not economically sustainable by cities or beneficial for the health of the population.

During the excellent lecture there seemed to be three influencers that were missing in the arguments presented:

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from Local Streets to People Streets; in Support of Brownfields; the Opportunity for Greening;

In a posting on an upcoming international conference in Stockholm on “Future of Places”, it is noted; “why cities need to embrace a people-centred approach in order to achieve positive urbanization and avoid falling victim to the negative attributes often accompanying urbanization” and “the inability of cities to manage growth to best utilize limited space….in pursuit of sustainable urban development.”
 

Narrow Street; Olympic Village, Vancouver, BC;©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

 
On another thought, venture capitalists, corporate turnaround hawks, and activist shareholders come into corporations, look at invested, idle capital at hand, look at potential returns that could be generated, and conjure up opportunities for increasing their financial gains from the idle capital. Why should cities not do the same, look at their streets, and maximize the revenue from that asset?

 
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H-JEH Becker, Velo.Urbanism, Third Wave Cycling Group Inc., 2013 

If you wish to expand the size of any image, then click on the image.

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Commuting home the day after a 15 cm snowfall, Downtown Calgary AB, ©Photograph by HJEH Becker, 2013

Commuting home the day after a 15 cm snowfall
Downtown Calgary AB
©Photograph by HJEH Becker, 2013

Cycling in winter is a marketable product. The consumers would be people who cycle now and drivers who could be persuaded to change to cycling or to combined mobility of cycling and transit or cycling and driving.

For some Northern European cities winter cyclist is just something one does. In North America, there seems to be a growing demand for commuters to continue their cycling throughout the winter. For capitalizing on is demand, cities would need to start up winter cycling campaigns. These campaigns would need to be integrated strategies and focus on people, employers, cycling and other retailers, municipalities, transit operators, marketers, and local cycling advocacy organizations.

At the Velo-city Global 2012 Conference in June of 2012, special focus was placed on winter cycling with presentations from Europe and North America. Now, in February 2013, the City of Oulu in Finland is holding a conference focusing solely on winter cycling. The City of Oulu is an appropriate location as 12% of the winter traffic is cycling.

To read more on winter cycling as a transportation mode….

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Cycling Creates Demand for Transit and Bus Trips

Calgary AB, Saddletowne C-Train Station, Commuter bike parking at the station©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Calgary AB, Saddletowne C-Train Station, Commuter bike parking at the station
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Why should transit system operators regard cyclists as their friends and consider cycling an important source of transit ridership growth?  Why should transit system operators see cyclists as a source of revenue growth?

Why are there still transit system operators in North America without bike racks on buses?  Why are there still transit system operators that do not ensure that high quality cycling infrastructure and cycling networks are in place bringing cyclists to their transit stops?

 

Cycling is a ridership generator for transit.

Well, cycling and Combined Mobility with transit that provides frequent-service and efficient trip-time can wean people from a car-oriented environment, at least to the extent of weaning from a second car.  Personal declarations and declining gasoline sales while transit ridership has been increasing is evidence of this in Vancouver.

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