pexels-photo-205353

Week in review: November 21, 2017

Subscribe to get weekly updated delivered directly to your inbox!

Consultations, feedback, and events

The equitable city

The proposed Regional capital budget calls for $400,000 in 2019 for a crossing for residents of the Traynor neighbourhood cut off by ION light rail. And after a decade of punishing transit fare increases, staff are finally recommending no increase to the cost of taking transit in 2018! (Your feedback on the Regional budget is having an impact.)

Vision Zero

If the Regional road safety report we highlighted last week was bad, Council’s debate on its content Tuesday was a disaster. We’ll have more to say shortly, but Council seemed to think “Vision Zero” could be co-opted as a slogan for a marketing or education campaign, and the Transportation and Environmental Services Commissioner declared that fixing roads to make them more safe would be “extremely inconvenient for people.” Work is needed to ensure building safe streets is a dominant issue in the next municipal elections.

Meanwhile, Sweden takes Vision Zero one step further by launching Moving Beyond Zero, an initiative to use the transportation system to improve health.

Transit

Consultations for the Stage 2 route of ION light rail through Cambridge take place November 21 and 28. Materials published ahead of time reveal staff are now recommending the route stay on the west (south?) side of Highway 8 across the Grand River, and are exploring a variety of route options through Preston and Galt. The Maple Grove alignment alternative appears to be entirely rejected due to its lousy land use compatibility, travel time, and costs to construct and operate.

Beyond a long-overdue fare freeze, other transit items of note in the draft budget and issue papers include money for transit way-finding and marketing, along with increased call-centre staff in preparation for ION’s launch. Dedicated funds for Cambridge ridership efforts would also increase from $1 million to $1.8 million next year. The capital forecast anticipates spending an additional $31 million expanding rapid transit between 2022 and 2027, which presumably means more trains to meet growing demand. (Here’s hoping we find a reliable train supplier by then.)

  • King St. pilot does what big cities around the world are doing (The Star)
  • Taking transit beyond the traditional (Governing)
  • Why the Liberals shouldn’t be so quick to get on board with hydrogen trains (TVO)
  • York Region is trying to kill Brampton’s chance at two-way all day GO service to Toronto (Bramptonist)
    Editor’s note: They’re probably not going to hurt Brampton and Kitchener’s chances, but Milton’s, and by extension, Cambridge’s? Possibly.
  • Ontario high speed rail could arrive faster (High Speed Rail Canada)
  • How a $45 billion transit plan fails to increase ridership (The Star)

Cycling and trails

Kitchener’s draft operating budget calls for a few new staff to be hired, including a landscape architect to help plan trails, and an additional active transportation planner. This active transportation position is particularly critical – Kitchener is struggling to deliver useful cycling infrastructure in a timely manner. Additional staff will allow the city to better leverage provincial and federal funding for cycling, as well as help the city to deliver a minimum grid of cycling routes. Meanwhile, the draft capital budget calls for lighting on the Iron Horse Trail.

Land use

  • Parking minimums must die (Strong Towns)
  • Why Mississauga wants to charge for parking (Globe and Mail)
  • Suburbs: turn rail station parking lots into affordable communities (Fast Company)
  • Making cities more dense always sparks resistance. Here’s how to overcome it (Vox)

Road ahead

  • Lyft, Uber’s ride-hailing rival, landing in Toronto with big plans (Metro)
  • Uber and Lyft: a dynamic duo(poly)? (City Observatory)
  • Driverless cars could be a solution to climate change—but two major things have to happen (Washington Post)
  • Driverless cars will change the way cities feel (CityLab)
  • Why driverless cars will be the next battlefield in the culture war (The Week)
  • How AI will shorten your commute through the city (Motherboard)

Read More »

michael-mroczek-199379

Week in review: November 13, 2017

How the Region isn’t pursuing Vision Zero, ION trains on the move, new trails, and more in this week’s review.

Subscribe to get weekly updated delivered directly to your inbox!

Consultations, feedback, and events

“Zero vision” isn’t Vision Zero

Regional staff have prepared a Council-requested report on implementing Vision Zero, a road safety initiative developed in Sweden to eliminate all traffic deaths. In this report, transportation staff pat themselves on the back, claiming the Region’s Road Safety Program “is based on the same philosophy to reduce serious injuries and deaths and the same breadth of perspective” as Vision Zero. However, their conception of what “Vision Zero” means diverges in fundamental ways from the original. The Swedish government’s Vision Zero Initiative website defines it as,

“the Swedish approach to road safety thinking. It can be summarized in one sentence: No loss of life is acceptable. The Vision Zero approach has proven highly successful. It is based on the simple fact that we are human and make mistakes. The road system needs to keep us moving. But it must also be designed to protect us at every turn.”

However, Regional staff, looking primarily to other North American cities, seem to think it means,

“At the heart of any Vision Zero philosophy lies the underlying understanding that road safety is the responsibility of everyone, including road designers, legislative and enforcement bodies, public health organizations and all road users.”

Someone has lost their Allen wrenches attempting to assemble a Vision Zerö. While Regional staff aren’t wrong in that responsibility is shared between road designers and users in Vision Zero, emphasis on a shared responsibility narrative misses the point. The responsibilities of road users should not diminish the need to build a transportation system that keeps all road users safe, even when mistakes are made. While enforcement and education are necessary tools in maintaining traffic safety, responsibility begins with engineering. Too many North American cities have mistaken Vision Zero to mean merely stepping up enforcement and victim-blaming education campaigns.

Notably absent from the Region’s report is any target date for achieving the goal of zero traffic fatalities. Further, it only pursues a philosophy of “reducing serious injuries and deaths,” when the goal should be their elimination. We can’t have “Vision Zero” if there’s no actual targets or vision of how to get there.

(The report also tries to pat the Region on the back for having a lower per capita traffic fatality rate than Sweden, however, national averages almost always perform worse than urban areas. Stockholm’s fatality rate is only 2/3 that of Waterloo Region’s.)

To the Region’s credit, the collision countermeasures report shares a number of longer-term plans for protecting vulnerable road users at intersections, including dedicated cycling facilities and signals, and leading pedestrian intervals that would help separate people from turning traffic. However, much of the work to protect vulnerable road users around collision hot spots in the short term amount to public education or warning signs, instead of a “safe systems” approach.

Most cycling-related collisions take place in crosswalks, where by law, people shouldn’t be cycling. A Vision Zero approach would look at why people feel the need to ride in the sidewalk, and redesign the streets to give them a place where they can feel and be safe. Unfortunately, the Region continues to put up “cyclists dismount” signs that the MTO says don’t work. Worse, it even invites riding through crosswalks by maintaining dozens of intersections with multi-use trails that spill out into crosswalks with no designated cycling crossings.

  • The trouble with those “cyclists dismount” signs (Sean Marshall)
  • All those pedestrian deaths? It’s the cars, stupid (Globe and Mail)

    “If you want to save pedestrian lives, slow down the vehicles. Install more crosswalks. Add speed bumps. Lower speed limits. Widen sidewalks. Narrow roads.”

  • 18 year old man with serious injuries after crash in Waterloo (570 News)
  • Man, 63, in motorized wheelchair killed in crash on Gordon St. (CBC)
  • As Toronto police write fewer tickets, they’re finding fewer drunk drivers (Global News)
  • Safe mobility is a human right (Alta Planning + Design)

ION light rail and transit

The first on-track testing of a Flexity light rail vehicle took place successfully last week! Expect more testing (and more trains) in the weeks to come.

  • As light rail approaches, buses must also change (The Record)
  • Construction of a new bus facility on Northfield Drive will begin next fall (P&W)
  • What it will take to make Metrolinx transit plan a reality? (The Star)
  • Transport regulator rejects Via Rail’s efforts to limit wheelchair, mobility access on trains (CBC)
  • How Seattle avoided the transit death spiral to turn around its bus system (Streetsblog)
  • Why the #MeToo movement is a public transportation issues (Washington Post)
  • “Micro Transit”: is it really a city thing? (TransitCenter)

Trails

Three major developments are taking place with respect to trails:

  • The Region and the City of Waterloo are looking at realigning the Trans Canada Trail to follow the ION/Elmira rail corridor from R&T Park to the St Jacobs Farmer’s Market. Public consultations take place November 30.
  • Regional Council is being asked to approve a design for Ottawa Street between Bleams Road and Fischer-Hallman that includes multi-use pathways on both sides. We hope the design doesn’t exclude safe crossings at intersections and driveways.
  • Widening of the 401 through Cambridge will result in the reconstruction or replacement of the Hespeler Road and Franklin Boulevard bridges. Both will be getting multi-use pathways on one side, providing long-overdue active transportation crossings.

Cycling

Land use

  • Central transit corridor change monitoring report finds more people, more restaurants, and more arts and culture establishments around ION (P&W)
  • How ION is spurring new development (CTV)
  • Cities look to take parking out of the courts (Kitchener Post)
  • How to pedestrianize a vital urban street (CityLab)
  • Big box stores are costing our cities far more than ever imagined (Strong Towns)
  • A Mayor’s Guide to Public Life! (Gehl Institute)

Road ahead

  • Excellent Uber ad distills the problem with Uber in crowded cities (Streetsblog)
  • Uber’s goal is not to operate alongside transit but to replace it (The Bold Italic)
  • Don’t believe the micro transit hype (CityLab)
  • Waymo announces ‘fully self-driving cars are here,’ taxi service coming (Gizmodo)

Read More »

pexels-photo-343469

Week in review: November 6, 2017

Subscribe to get weekly updated delivered directly to your inbox!

Consultations, feedback, and events

(more…)

Read More »

pexels-photo-261628

The myth of a distracted walking crisis

On Monday, Etobicoke Centre MPP Yvan Baker unveiled his private member’s bill, the “Phones Down, Heads Up Act,” which would impose fines on pedestrians who crossed the street holding a mobile device. It’s the latest in a series of so-called “zombie walking” laws intended to crack down on the alleged scourge of “distracted walking.”

In any legislation intended to alter behaviour, three questions should be asked. First and foremost: is the issue actually a problem? Second, will the proposed measures actually work to address the issue? Finally, would the measures have any other consequences that should be weighed against the assumed benefits? (more…)

Read More »

negative-space-girl-pumpkin-glass-light-halloween-candle-picjumbo

Week in review: October 30, 2017

Subscribe to get weekly updated delivered directly to your inbox!

Consultations, feedback, and events

(more…)

Read More »

pexels-photo-543604

Week in review: October 24, 2017

Subscribe to get weekly updated delivered directly to your inbox!

Consultations, feedback, and events

(more…)

Read More »

bernd-schulz-133089

Week in review: October 16, 2017

Subscribe to get weekly updated delivered directly to your inbox!

Consultations, feedback, and events

(more…)

Read More »

todd-diemer-110882

Week in review: October 10, 2017

Subscribe to get weekly updated delivered directly to your inbox!

Consultations, feedback, and events

(more…)

Read More »

david-bruyndonckx-198005

Week in review: October 2, 2017

Subscribe to get weekly updated delivered directly to your inbox!

Consultations, feedback, and events

(more…)

Read More »

35167371274_0b4754349a_k

Week in review: September 25, 2017

Subscribe to get weekly updated delivered directly to your inbox!

Consultations, feedback, and events

(more…)

Read More »