August 30, 2011

Recent TCAT activities and news items:

  1. TCAT Releases Complete Streets Forum 2011 Summary Report
  2. Bicycle Friendly Business Awards
  3. Toronto Commuting Times the Longest of any Canadian City
  4. Safety Risks and Benefits of Active Transportation
  5. Connecting Trails, Communities and the Brickworks in the Lower Don

1. TCAT Releases Complete Streets Forum 2011 Summary Report

On April 28, 2011, TCAT organized its fourth annual active transportation policy conference, called the Complete Streets Forum, at the University of Toronto Hart House. There were also several workshops on April 29, 2011 at various locations.

Hot off the presses, we are pleased to release a summary report that pulls together key highlights and lessons learned over the two days of the Forum. Designed by Erica Duque, in an accessible and attractive format, TCAT is making the report freely available to the general public. If you would like copies to distribute please email email TCAT. An on-line PDF version of the report is available to download here.

In addition to the summary report, there is a wealth of resources available on TCAT's website from the Forum including photos, videos, and the PowerPoint slides of the speakers presentations.

With many thanks to all of our speakers and sponsors who made the Complete Streets Forum 2011 possible!

2. Bicycle Friendly Business Awards

Nominations for the City of Toronto's Bicycle Friendly Business Awards are due on September 12, 2011. Nominate a local business or organization by filling out their form online. The Toronto Bike Awards is taking place on September 26, 2011 at the Gladstone Hotel.

TCAT will be on hand to announce the recipient of its third annual Active Transportation Champion award for an individual or organization that has worked to raise the profile of cycling or walking and its relationship to a high quality of urban life. TCAT gave its inaugural award in 2009 to Jane Farrow and in 2010 to Paul Young.

3. Toronto Commuting Times the Longest of any Canadian City

On August 24th, Statistics Canada released a new report titled Commuting to Work: Results of the 2010 General Social Survey. The report determined that Toronto is the most gridlocked and congested city in Canada. Overall average commuting time was 31 minutes in Montreal, 30 minutes in Vancouver, and Toronto came last at 33 minutes. 

The solution? In NOW Magazine, Executive Director of the Clean Air Partnership, Eva Ligeti, sees one way forward is to build more bike lanes throughout Toronto which will make it a viable alternative option for many road users, following the successful example of New York.

Interestingly, when it comes to the happiest commuters, the Toronto Star reported that cyclists and walkers are the most satisfied with their commute.

4. Safety Risks and Benefits of Active Transportation 

More and more people are turning to bicycling as a mode of transportation and as a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. According to a recent study by the London School of Economics, featured in Bike Biz, the bicycle industry is booming. However, along with this transition are growing concerns over the safety of cyclists.

The Ontario Medical Association recently released a report titled Enhancing cycling safety in Ontario that lists several recommendations to increase cycling safety. With a provincial election on the horizon, Ontario's doctors are calling on both provincial and municipal governments to step up their investment in cycling and to do more to make cycling safer. Recommendations include redoubling efforts to implement bike lanes, revising the Ontario Drivers' Manual, and delivering bicycle safety education for both cyclists and drivers.

While active transportation users are still at an increased risk compared to automobile or pubic transit, the good news is that cycling-related injuries have decreased in the past decade. Maclean's Magazine also recently noted studies which showed that cyclists gained greater health benefits putting them at lower risk for obesity. 

Moreover North Americans are learning some valuable things from our European counterparts. First, European-style separated bike lanes that have been tested in some North American cities prove effective in reducing the number of cycling-related accidents as well as pedestrian and automobile accidents. Second, "safety in numbers" really works - the more cyclists and pedestrians there are on the road, the fewer the accidents. Third, a recent study by the British Medical Journal found that bike sharing programs actually help save lives of regular bicycle sharing riders every year by providing benefits from reduced CO2 emissions and being physically fit. Featured in Inhabitat, the study reported that the safety risks of cycling under the Bicing bicycle sharing program in Spain were outweighed by the benefits. 

5. Connecting Trails, Communities and the Brickworks in the Lower Don

On June 28, 2011 Paul Young faciliated a workshop to explore how to improve links between the Don Trail and surrounding communities. A PDF version of the report summarizing the findings from the workshop can be downloaded here.