2010 was a busy and productive year for TCAT.
TCAT’s signature annual active transportation policy event took place in April. Renamed as Complete Streets Forum, it was crucial in launching the Complete Streets idea in Toronto. Not only did the media pick up on this important concept, but TCAT was very pleased to hear that City of Toronto staff have started work on a Complete Streets policy. Clean Air Partnership’s Greater Toronto Clean Air Council (GTA-CAC) also set up a Complete Streets Community of Practice where ideas can be shared with staff from cities across the GTA. We’ve started to build the momentum, and we’re going to keep things going with another Forum in 2011 – stay tuned!
TCAT was also busy building the case for walking and cycling through research. In the spring we released a report detailing the findings from year two of our Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business study examining the public acceptability and economic impact of reallocating road space to active transportation.
In the summer, we worked in partnership with the City of Toronto to conduct an evaluation of the impact of sharrows, a new application of shared lane pavement markings, on cyclist and motorist behaviour. Come out to the public meeting on January 20, 2011, 6-8 p.m. at Metro Hall to learn more!
Also in the summer TCAT released a new platform titled “Action 2014: Complete Streets and Active Transportation” providing a detailed analysis of concrete steps that the City of Toronto can take to improve walking and cycling from 2010 to 2014. We then surveyed all municipal candidates to inform them about these priorities and to assess where they stood on the issues.
In the fall we released two new reports: Building Better Cycling Arteries in Cities: Lessons for Toronto and Benchmarking Active Transportation in Canadian Cities. The benchmarking study was covered in the Toronto Star and was profiled on several websites including the U.S. Alliance for Biking and Walking.
Our research not only helps make the case here at home, but helps Toronto be part of a larger North American and even global discussion about transforming our cities into healthier, safer and greener places. TCAT was very pleased to be invited to present two of our research papers at the international Walk 21 conference in the Hague this November. The first paper titled Contextualizing the Community Walkability Audit Tool and the second titled Converting On-Street Parking to Active Transportation summarized the main findings of the two Bloor Street studies. The papers were well received, even if some of our European friends were a bit a puzzled as to why it can sometimes take so long to implement simple (and good!) road re-design ideas in North America!
TCAT also took some time this year to reach out to our stakeholders and trusted advisors to discuss where TCAT should focus its efforts in the future. We were happy to find that there is a lot of support for the work TCAT is doing, and for the model of using research as basis for educating people about the benefits of complete streets. We also received some good ideas about how to make our work more accessible and influential in Toronto’s public debates, and we will work to build these into next year’s work.
And finally, the year ended with some good news! TCAT’s Director, Nancy Smith Lea, was awarded a “Vital People” award from the Toronto Community Foundation. These awards “recognize valued leaders who are making outstanding contributions working at not-for-profit organizations”. The TCAT Steering Committee and Clean Air Partnership congratulate Nancy on this well deserved award.
And now on to 2011! With a new administration at City Hall and across the GTA there are questions about how much room there will be on the agenda for cycling and walking. But Complete Streets is a good idea – good for transportation, for the environment, for health, and even for the budget! — and TCAT is convinced that it is an idea that will continue to grow with good research and strong outreach to the community.
All the best for the Holidays and a Very Happy New Year!