Building active transportation routes on a tight budget possible,
As more residents make biking and walking an essential part of their day
through the coronavirus pandemic, one city councillor says supporting
active transportation might not necessitate big-budget investments.
"The nine active transportation corridors we’ve opened, we were able to do
that with very small financial implications, so perhaps there’s ways of
expanding active transportation in the city without spending a whole lot of
money," Coun. Matt Allard said.
"Part of it is investment, but part of it is what do we want to do as a
city? How do we want to use the spaces that we have?"
Allard’s remarks came Monday as city officials cut the ribbon on the latest
multimillion dollar piece of infrastructure built with pedestrians and
cyclists in mind.
The new $2.5-million underpass connecting Niakwa Trail to Des Meurons
Street beneath Fermor Avenue saw plenty of people jogging, cycling and
walking past news crews gathered Monday morning to cover the opening.
The pathway, located about midway between St. Anne’s Road and Archibald
Street, and not far from the Windsor Park Golf Course and St. Vital Outdoor
Pool, was part of the city’s $29.6-million Fermor Avenue reconstruction
The underpass allows easier access to active transportation corridors
connecting to downtown from southeast Winnipeg.
"This brings us a step closer to the dream, which is a completely connected
separated network from the road," said Allard (St. Boniface), who is chair
of the city’s infrastructure renewal and public works committee.
"I’m cycling much more since being elected to city council and
understanding the value of these facilities, but as the father of an
11-year-old girl, I can tell you protected facilities are essential to get
people to make the choice to use their bicycles and active transportation —
to make the switch."
In April, the city extended four Sunday and holiday bike routes to allow
for pedestrians and cyclists to use the routes seven days a week with
vehicle traffic restricted to one block between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., as part
of its COVID-19 response. Five additional residential streets were added in
the following weeks, with vehicle restrictions in place until July 6.
Allard said use of these active transportation corridors has been
significant and, overall, more people are choosing to leave their vehicles
at home or find alternatives to using the bus.
"With COVID-19 we’ve seen some trends and one trend that we expect, and are
actually encouraging, is bus ridership is down," Allard said. "We’re asking
people to ride the bus only if they have to… that’s a big part of the mode
shift in Winnipeg."
The standing policy committee on infrastructure renewal and public works
will vote Tuesday on a motion to extend the initiative to Sept. 7. The
motion also calls on the public service to report on the results of the
program and the feasibility of establishing permanent year-round active
A petition by Trails Winnipeg to keep the routes in place had received more
than 7,800 signatures by Monday afternoon.
"In terms of a culture change, I think that’s just happening now," Allard
said. "It’s going to have an impact on what the public demands of city
St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes, whose ward residents will also benefit from
the Fermor Avenue underpass, said he wants to see the city upgrade
existing, well-used active transportation infrastructure and assets.
"I’ve been on this campaign to upgrade all these running tracks across the
city and we could fix some of those up pretty cheaply, and we haven’t,"
Mayes said. "So we should have a balancing act here.
"I think we should keep building and cycling walking paths but also we’ve
got some old running and walking infrastructure; people can use those and
we need to put some money into that, too."
Extend active-transportation routes
AS Winnipeggers adjust to the new normal in the age of COVID-19 — whatever
that may be — there is opportunity to change how roads are used in the
Sections of multiple streets were designated as active transportation
routes early in the wave of changes brought by physical-distancing
recommendations. Motorized traffic was restricted to one block along parts
of Lyndale Drive, Scotia Street, Wellington Crescent, Wolseley Avenue,
Assiniboine Avenue, Churchill Drive, Egerton Road, Kildonan Drive and
Some of these routes, such as Wolseley Avenue, already had such
restrictions in place — but only on weekends and only during summer months.
City council extended the initial period of the closures to July 6. A
motion by Coun. Sherri Rollins, seconded by Brian Mayes, would extend the
designation to Sept. 7. The Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure
Renewal and Public Works is scheduled to vote on it June 9.
As more people who were working from home return to commuting in some form,
there may be more pressure on the city to again allow motorized traffic on
these streets. But the new normal need not be the car-centric normal that
dominated Winnipeg previously.
With a usually busy Manitoba summer suddenly emptied by multiple event
cancellations, more people now find the time to dust off their bicycles or
don a sturdy pair of walking shoes. These people will get a nod of approval
from their doctors because, when it comes to preventative health, active
living is an effective prescription.
The risk of being exposed to COVID-19 is currently low, but the means
by which it spreads remain the same. Joggers, cyclists, roller-skaters —
anyone using the roads to get a bit of exercise — still need space to
maintain distancing, and such space can be provided by allowing some or all
of these road areas to be used for active transportation.
It’s a timely topic because the city is already working on a long-term
active transportation network. Community consultations are ongoing as to
where bike routes and dedicated paths should go. Other Canadian cities have
experimented with temporary barriers to add such lanes to city streets, to
see whether people will eschew their vehicles and take to their bikes.
Creating such spaces here, as the city has done, presents an opportunity to
see how Winnipeggers would use active transportation.
Some areas may not prove popular with enough commuters, or residents, to
justify making permanent changes to the infrastructure. This is something
the city should collect information on, and something Winnipeggers should
tell their councillor about. What kind of city do we want to live in when
we’re through the COVID-19 pandemic?
It’s time for active transportation to be more than an afterthought in
Winnipeg. The pandemic offers a rare opportunity to try expanded, and
healthier, ways to use pavement.
Transportation Committee to Host Bike Week
The Portage la Prairie Active Transportation Committee is bringing back
Bike Week for the sixth annual year.
The Committee has a full week of bike-related events for you to take part
in from June 15-21.
Chair of the Bike Week Committee Heather Bruce says their most popular
event, the Cookie Ride, has been altered because of the pandemic.
"This year, it's going to be a freezie ride so we can hand out freezies,
and we will hand other things out as well. It's very popular because it
makes families get out after supper to go for a bike ride. That's part of
what we're trying to do, encourage people to get out and about."
Other activities planned for Bike Week include Bike & Yoga, bike trails,
and a public art bike tour.
Bruce says they've taken safety into mind when planning the activities.
"Because we're outside the social distancing thing will be easy, and we're
on bikes. For instance, our Grub Crawl is on Thursday this year. Last year,
we went to three different places and had something small to eat at each
place. This year, we're only having it at Cafe on Prince."
The Transportation Committee strives to hold the event as a way to showcase
Portage's many biking paths and bring awareness to active transportation.
Bruce says Bike Week has a new event this year, the Bike Jam.
"Even the route is kept a secret right until the last minute. There will
likely be music blaring. It's just a nice slow-moving ride throughout the
city, and people are encouraged to ride in costume, or decorate their
Bruce wants you to get outside and enjoy the Manitoba summer.
"We know that during COVID, there's been a lot of talk about people's
mental health, so bike week fits in getting people outside, active and in
the fresh air with other people, but socially distant."
You can keep up to date with Bike Week on their Facebook Page.
Bike lanes installed on urgent basis across Canada during COVID-19 pandemic
Commuters nervous to take public transit hop on bikes; driving not an
option for many
Been meaning for years to bicycle to work, as a way to improve your fitness
and save money on gas and parking?
Now is your chance.
Municipal governments across Canada are moving quickly to create clearly
marked bicycle lanes in order for people to travel safely through cities. A
number of city councils have approved road closures, either partial or
complete, as an emergency alternative to public transit.
Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Kitchener, Toronto,
Montreal and Moncton have all recently extended their cycling networks,
according to Vélo Canada Bikes, a national advocacy group for cycling.
"We're doing a lot of work that was meant to be spread out over a few years
in a few weeks," said Toronto mayor John Tory said in an interview. "It's
going to keep people safer, because it's going to give people an
alternative to the transit system, where they're still a bit anxious."
The World Health Organization has issued guidelines
how to get around during the COVID outbreak, which include "whenever
feasible, consider riding bicycles or walking" to help with physical
distancing and physical activity.
Safe transit for essential workers
But many of the bike lane extensions introduced in Canada during the
pandemic are are temporary, marked with portable stanchions. Permanent bike
lanes typically involve lengthy public consultations with merchants and
residents, a process that isn't feasible given the urgent need for
transportation options right now.
Toronto-based urban planner Jennifer Keesmaat said transportation
alternatives are critical as many workplaces begin to reopen. As well,
essential service workers need to get to their places of employment.
"In the absence of having a vaccine and being unable to pack everybody on
transit the way we have in the past, cycling is a viable option," said
Keesmaat, Toronto's former city planner.
"It's simply impossible for everybody who takes transit to get into a car,
and secondly, it's not affordable," she said. "A lot of people don't have
access to a car or can't afford one."
Keesmaat hopes the new bike lanes will become permanent. She is the chief
architect of the 2020 Declaration for Resilience in Canadian Cities
<https://www.2020declaration.ca/>, a statement signed by 100 well-known
Canadians calling on political leaders to use the COVID-19 pandemic as an
opportunity to "kickstart" a move toward more accessible, equitable, and
sustainable cities. The list of 20 priorities on the declaration includes
protected bike lanes.
Cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen have long boasted a cycling
culture, with crowds of citizens pedalling along cycling routes around the
city. Since the pandemic began, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Milan and
Bogota and others have shifted street space away from cars, to add pathways
for bikes and pedestrians.
Friction with motorists
The Canadian Automobile Association supports proper cycling infrastructure,
according to spokesperson Ian Jack.
"The more people on bikes and on transit, the fewer people there are on the
road," he said. "There will be less congestion."
But Jack also believes that the cycling lanes work especially well right
now, with fewer Canadians driving due to the lockdown.
"These temporary lanes have been fine because there's been so little
vehicular traffic, it hasn't been an issue," he said. "It's going to become
one as more and more people start to go back to work."
Then there's the issue of insurance.
"If the breadwinner of the family is on their bicycle, they only have their
home insurance and that doesn't cover them fully," Melissa De Genova, a
city councillor in Vancouver. "They wouldn't be covered the same way as
with vehicle insurance if there was an accident."
How long will the lanes last?
Even so, many proponents of cycling hope that the new extended cycling
routes will be made permanent. They point to health benefits, as well as
the environmental impact, noting Canada's commitment to the Paris Agreement
on climate change.
No one can say at this point how long the bike lane extensions will be left
in place, due to the unpredictable course of the pandemic. Nor is it clear
how many Canadians will be eager to bundle up to ride their bike to work
once winter sets in. Montreal typically sees just 20 per cent of its
cycling population on its bike network in February.
"You need to get a bit prepared," Keesmaat said. "But we get prepared to
get into our cars too. We buy windshield fluid, we make sure we have a
scraper in our car, we change our tires. You can change the tires on your
bike as well, and buy proper clothing."
Kimberley Nelson of Vélo Canada Bikes believes cyclists will need to put
pressure on political leaders in order for the temporary extension to be
"We really need to come together and push those communities that are doing
it now as a temporary measure, to say 'hey, look how much better this
street works when everybody is included'," she said.
A national strategy
Early in March, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna appointed Halifax
MP Andy Fillmore to head up a new National Active Transportation Strategy.
He said although many of the strategy's goals are long term, the government
is also looking to amend and update its 12-year, $180-billion
Infrastructure Plan to acknowledge "the realities" of COVID-19. That will
include a greater focus on cycling.
"We already had money set aside for active transportation," Fillmore said.
"But not by intention, maybe by oversight, you had to squint to see it.
There wasn't a particular line item for it."
Fillmore, who worked as an urban planner prior to his political career,
said the plan will be updated to highlight investments that support
communities in their recovery from the pandemic.
He believes COVID-19's impact on transportation will boost awareness of the
need for more safe cycling routes, and accelerate Canadian cities towards
more sustainable practices.
"If we're looking for silver linings, I think we've found one," Fillmore
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You don't want to miss this.
FREE WEBINAR THURSDAY
Walkability and Health: Building Strong, Vibrant and Resilient Communities
– Part 1: Tools and Techniques
Thursday, June 11, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Participants of the live webinar are eligible for 1.5 AICP CM credits.
The connection between walkable communities and public health was already
at the center of planning discussion in many communities before the
Covid-19 pandemic prompted many cities to close public streets for
pedestrian use. This webinar features Dan Burden and Mark Fenton of Blue
Zones, two of the nation’s leading walkability experts.
Find out more and register for this free webinar via the link below.
Register For Walkability and Health: Building Strong, Vibrant and Resilient
Communities – Part 1: Tools and Techniques
Smart Growth Information Clearinghouse | 410-767-4943 | SmartGrowth.org
The Smart Growth Information Clearinghouse is a project of the Smart Growth
Network and is partially funded by the U.S. EPA, Office of Community
Revitalization and managed by the Maryland Department of Planning.
Maryland Department of Planning | 301 W. Preston Street, 11th Floor, Baltimore,
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CDC Revise Awful COVID-19 Commuting Recommendations, But They’re Still Not
The Centers for Disease Control is no longer recommending that employers
incentivize their workers to commute by car alone as businesses reopen
during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the agency’s revised guidelines still
don’t do enough to protect workers from the novel coronavirus — *or *the
myriad public health threats posed by our unsafe transportation network.
The original version of the agency’s workplace safety recommendations
encouraged employers to offer workers who use public transportation
“incentives to use forms of transportation that minimize close contact with
others, such as offering reimbursement for parking for commuting to work
alone or single-occupancy rides.”
The CDC have now amended the recommendation as follows
For employees who commute to work using public transportation or ride
sharing, consider offering the following support:
- If feasible, offer employees incentives to use forms of transportation
that minimize close contact with others (e.g., biking, walking, driving or
riding by car either alone or with household members).
- Ask employees to follow the CDC guidance on how to protect yourself
when using transportation
- Allow employees to shift their hours so they can commute during less
- Ask employees to wash their hands
<https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html> as soon as
possible after their trip.
The minor tweak came after major backlash from media outlets like
leading transportation organizations like the National Association of City
Transportation Officials, the American Public Transportation Association,
and Smart Growth America.
But even the new-and-improved guidelines still don’t adequately address the
safety needs of vulnerable road users — or the inequities
disproportionately faced by people who are black, brown, and/or poor.
For one, the CDC still encourage employers to provide financial incentives *for
every mode except transit use* — despite emerging evidence from East Asian
countries like Korea
transit might still be safe during the pandemic, especially if networks
undertake proper protocols, like frequent vehicle cleanings and supplying
passengers with masks. The advisement threatens to starve transit networks
further when fare collections are already at historic lows, rendering
transit agencies unable to provide adequate service to the riders who have
no choice but to remain. Low-income workers with long commutes, who
generally cannot afford cars *or *get to work via active transportation
modes, disproportionately rely on transit.
Providing employer-based financial incentives to bike or walk is great, but
it won’t do much good if the many safety barriers to active transportation
that walkers and bikers still face are not addressed. Of course, workplace
leaders alone can’t fix those, but they can do their part, by leveraging
their influence as a business community with government officials to
support policies to end police harassment, brutality and killing — a
significant barrier to the mobility of BIPOC
and implement Vision Zero <http://visionzero.org/> policies, programs and
*City of Nelson rolls out E-bike Program to residents*
In a media release Wednesday, the City of Nelson said on June 1, 2020,
Council approved the roll out of a city-wide E-bike Program for residents
with the goal of promoting active transportation, community wellbeing and
reducing GHG emissions.
*The City of Nelson said the program will provide low interest financing
for Nelson homeowners who would like to purchase a commuter bike including
electric bikes, do-it-yourself conversion kits and non-electric bikes with
the loan applied monthly on the homeowner’s Nelson Hydro electric bill and
repaid over the term of the loan.*
*The City said the maximum loan amount will be $8,000 per household, which
can support the purchase of more than one bike. Participants will be able
to choose an amortization period of two or five years, with an interest
rate of 3.5% (subject to change each year).*
“Council is pleased with the development of this new e-bike program and we
hope it provides the incentive and tools folks need to be able to purchase
a commuter bike,” said Nelson Mayor Dooley in the media release.
“By increasing the use of bikes in Nelson, we can reduce carbon emissions
and pollution in our community. There is also increased benefits to having
fewer vehicles on the road and more parking capacity downtown for visitors
and retail customers.”
The City said the program will be available to City of Nelson residents who
own their own home. Program participants are encouraged to purchase locally
and support the Nelson economy.
The program provides an affordable option for making the transition to
active transportation. Users may see added benefits of more time outdoors
and increased fitness levels.
The City said there are some administrative steps that must be done before
the E-Bike Program is officially in place. It is anticipated that this will
be completed by mid to late July. Once the bylaw is adopted, Nelson
residents can go online and apply for financing.
The application process will include a short survey to collect information
on the program. In the interim we encourage you to go visit our local bike
shops, do your research and be ready to participate in this exciting new
The E-Bike program aligns with the Province’s active transportation
strategy titled “Move. Commute. Connect.”, that aims to build a cleaner
greener future for all British Columbians by:
- Doubling the percentage of trips taken with active transportation by
- Providing incentives that encourage safe active transportation for all
ages and abilities.
- Helping communities build integrated and accessible active
- Working with communities to create policies and plans that enable and
support complete active transportation networks.
Riverbank erosion concerns drive Wellington Crescent rehab
A portion of the Wellington Crescent parkway will be dug up and moved south
in anticipation of the pavement eventually slipping into the river.
Come winter, crews are scheduled to begin an estimated $9.6-million project
to rebuild the roadway between Fulham Avenue and Grenfell Boulevard. The
project will also include a kilometre-long riverbank stabilization effort
to slow failures along the southern bank of the Assiniboine River.
“We’ve had one failure and, thankfully, it was not a large, widespread
failure,” said Cam Ward, a project manager in the city’s public works
department. “If we didn’t do anything, eventually you would see relatively
large riverbank failures progressing away from the riverbank and impacting
City of Winnipeg assets.”
Ward said city officials have been monitoring the portion of riverbank just
before the entrance to Assiniboine Park since 2015. The year following, the
paved pathway looping through trees along the river started to crack and in
2017 the riverbank failed, forcing a closure of the area.
The city has released plans to rehabilitate the area and a preliminary
design for the relocation of Wellington Crescent.
The project will include placing riprap stone to reinforce the bank, shear
keys to slow sliding, moving pathways and the removal and replanting of
Relocating Wellington Crescent south instead of shoring up the riverbank
was a more economical decision and fit within the council-approved project
budget, Ward said.
The project cost would have increased to $15.5 million to build the retaining
wall necessary to safely accommodate the 8,700 cars that use the existing
road on a daily basis.
Before relocating the street, which would reduce setbacks for homes on the
crescent, area councillor Kevin Klein said the city ought to give more
consideration to a proposal to close or limit the road to vehicles and turn
it into an active transportation corridor.
“Those trees are priceless and moving the road closer to the homes is not
going to eliminate the problem forever,” Klein said. “The residents have
all told me... they’d prefer the road be closed.
“The residents are disappointed that the city is not listening to them and
they’re very angry that the neighbourhood has not been included in any
The city has consulted residents adjacent to the project area, however.
“You have to stabilize the riverbank, we know that,” Klein said. “I believe
it’s reasonable to close that and make it a path like they suggested.”
Traffic studies conducted by the city ruled out closing the road after
noting the diverted traffic would overwhelm adjacent streets.
While a pathway requires less investment than a roadway to protect it from
riverbank instability, overall cost savings would be negligible due to work
required to relocate underground assets and add needed traffic
infrastructure, Ward said.
The city has launched an online portal to collect public feedback on the
project and preferred roadway alignment. Two webinars will also be held on
June 9. More information can be found at engage.winnipeg.ca.
Construction is expected to be complete by October 2021.
*APTA urges CDC to reconsider guidance on commuting alone by car*
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is encouraging the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reconsider its recent
guidance encouraging commuting alone by car.
APTA said the stance is misguided, would hamper the nation’s economic
recovery, and demonstrates a lack of understanding of how people of all
incomes get around their communities.
“For many individuals, the cost of owning and commuting by car is not
financially viable and out of reach,” APTA President and CEO Paul P.
Skoutelas said. “The guidance also doesn’t consider the congestion created
by millions of cars stuck in traffic. Gridlock and polluted skies are not
the mobility future we want emerging from this crisis.”
Skoutelas said the position also ignores the role public transportation has
played during the pandemic as a lifeline in getting essential workers to
hospitals, pharmacies, and grocery stores and the measures public transit
agencies have taken to safeguard riders and employees.
“In addition, the guidance is confusing and runs counter to past guidance
provided to public transit agencies and riders and what has been provided
on air travel,” Skoutelas concluded. “We urge the CDC to work with APTA and
the public transit industry to further develop appropriate safeguards. The
current crisis has underscored that each entity involved in public transit
– the transit agencies; the riders; business and elected officials – has a
responsibility and role to play in ensuring the safety and vitality of our
communities moving forward.”