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Archive for the ‘Transportation issues’ Category

Shut Down the Scarboro Curling Facility!

October 10th, 2017
Curling, Sports, Transportation issues

The shuttering of Scarboro Golf and Country Club is about ego.  Scarboro Curling logo

The announcement echoes from Thornhill, St. Georges, Board of Trade (Woodbridge), Humber Highlands, and Weston. All relented to the arrogance of a community, who themselves are under siege.  Thornhill and St. Georges brought in the accountants, who factored in the benefits of curling keeping the club open in the winter.  They remain…for now.  Board of Trade also brought in the accountants, who, by virtue of discussions only with golfers, determined that the curling facility was a drag on the club.  Interestingly, the club found need to sell within a few short years.  Humber Highlands, well, I am too young to understand what happened there, but I suppose it might have to do with non-curling accountants and golfers.  And the rumours abound about Weston.

But Scarboro is different, I suppose.  The accountants are unlikely to have dictated the demise of curling at SG&C.  Metrolinx is the fall guy!  That fat transportation group needs the land for their new transportation facilities. The interesting part though, is that the new facility did not have to go where the curling facility is today! SG&C chose to allow the curling function to leave the premises.  Yes, they got their compensation, but curiously, could a part of the compensation have gone to a rebuild?

Return to the other golf and curling clubs.  They are unable or reticent to treat the curling functions of their clubs as a business entity. Golfers pay a princely sum to afford the maintenance of 150 acres of land plus programming in their extravagant edifices. When curlers are introduced into the mix, more persons can afford this less expensive facility investment.   This is where the conflict arises.  The golf club members (who do not curl) endear their exclusivity, created by the privilege of their fees. In the 1960′s, when curling became an exceptional add-on to a Country Club, the golfers never contemplated curling plebes.  The exclusivity for the golf member is diminished by participants in the curling facility paying much lower rates.  Now, as curling facilities age, the ego of the golf members holds court.

But golf is a battered sport. Their facilities are depleting. In a way, they may have reacted by protecting their own turf. But for a former curler, Mackenzie Hughes, and a young Canadian phenom, Brooke Mackenzie Henderson, there might be few hooks onto which the golf community to put its hat.

The curling fraternity should not lament the loss of six sheets of ice.  The curling community should look inwardly to determine if they have a business case  And, there is a case to be made for year-round facilities and in the economic benefits that curling derives.  See http://yorkurbanist.com/2017/02/10/collingwood-cc-a-curling-success/ and http://yorkurbanist.com/2015/01/29/2015-ontario-scotties-as-economic-generator/  New facilities could be part of new residential, commercial or recreation developments, if only the entrepreneurs could also be curlers.

Kleinburg’s Peak Traffic

April 24th, 2015
Healthy Communities, Pedestrianization, Transportation issues, Uncategorized, Urban Design, Urban Places to Delight

Out for a walk in the morning.  We entered the serenity of the Humber Valley, like a typical jaunt for fitness.  Despite rapid pace our vistas included a wild turkey scrambling for cover and a coven of turkey vultures high in the spruce.  Little did we expect the parallels to Peak Traffic of urban Kleinburg that we encountered.

IMG_00003295 IMG_00003296

We emerged into the once quiet centre of Kleinburg.  It is only about a block in length.  This was an immense contrast to the idyllic Humber Valley trail.  Cars backed up on Islington Avenue. And as they did, non-vigilant vehicles scurried like that wild turkey, leaving a short-lived gap as it found an escape route off the main road.  Around the bend on Nashville Road, cars lurked at the intersection, waiting to pounce, like the vultures we saw, into the line that had formed on Islington.

Why this story?  Kleinburg Area Ratepayers Association have regularly on their agendas an incessant discussion of traffic. How can it be cured.  For the most part, the group has interim solutions – left turn restrictions upstream, parking solutions and studies offered by York Region.  With every new development, the talk turns to the traffic it will generate.

But Kleinburg has already reached Peak Traffic.  And, heretically I say, that is good.  Sure there is capacity at 10:30am and 1pm and 11pm, but no more commuter and school-generated traffic can be accommodated.  Although a traffic consultant will try to understand the commuter traffic, Kleinburg’s unique situation is exacerbated by helicopter parents. I love Brent Toderian’s repeated graphic that says: “There is too much for Billy to walk to school. So we drive him.” He goes on to explain that this is Induced Traffic.  When one strips away Induced Traffic, peak traffic in Kleinburg changes, but does not reduce.  If our doting mothers suddenly changed into parents concerned with healthy (walking/cycling children) living, traffic would be reduced at 8:30am and 3pm. At least for the short term. We can analyze it easily.  On a given PD day, the traffic is “lighter”. and the line-ups of cars shown in the picture above are lessened.  But lets say for instance, if every day was a PD day.  The phenomenon that would occur will revert to the cloister of cars once again.  The voids will be filled by those that used to take alternatives.

Unlike my article about resolving Vaughan’s traffic problems in http://yorkurbanist.com/2015/04/18/vaughan-traffic-congestion-a-perception/ , Kleinburg could not create a complete street in its core.  But what it could do is to create an Integrated street.  An integrated street is one in which the modes of transportation, vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, mix without signage explaining the concept.  The concept is that cyclists and pedestrians have the right-of-way. By doing that, vehicles are forced into slowing.  IMG_00000022 INTEGRATED-STREET-CORNERYes, there will be a speed sign at the entries to the village, but because the street and sidewalk fabric are all integrated, there is no restriction to any mode, nor parking.  HERESY, you say.  But it has worked in Europe and specialty villages of the USA.

Create a slower street and the Peak Traffic will be reduced, leaving only those vehicles whose drivers intend to use Kleinburg as a destination. Emergency vehicles are accommodated. Deliveries can occur. Cycling and walking is encouraged. Business will thrive.  It just takes a leap of faith.

Cycle Route Innovations

April 22nd, 2015
Healthy Communities, Recreation, Transportation issues, Urban Design

Following on the suggestion in my post March 3, 2015, and because we were questioned at Vaughan BUG as to why we would deign to suggest a cycle route alongside a 400 series highway, here then is vindication. solar bike path on highwayA solar array has been added to the cycle lane in Korea.  The array provides shelter to the cyclists and, constructed in the middle of the highway, provides exposure to the need for active transportation.  Not only that! The life of the pavement will be extended and there is an income producing property in the form of energy recovery.

If not overhead, then there are innovative solar pavements. Bikes will not wear pavements like heavier vehicles. If we are nervous about innovating, then why not a trial section to power the lights required for the highway? When the resources are discovered, then the power generated could be directed to runoff water from the asphalt being treated in a solar-powered facility. Remember the elevated wetlands on the Don Valley Parkway?20131128-Elevated-Wetlands[1]

Now why can’t Ontario and Canada be innovators?!? Give your transportation engineers some challenges for the GTA West Corridor. Have them collaborate with scientists to salvage something from the clear cutting of the Greenbelt.  If we can pay $1 billion for six lanes of pollution and noise producing facilities, surely we can pay $5 million for a complementary cycle facility.  And just maybe, we could innovate at the same time. Cycle lift for hills

See other cycling oped’s:

http://yorkurbanist.com/2015/04/19/cycling-and-pedestrian-task-force-yes-in-vaughan/

http://yorkurbanist.com/2015/02/25/gta-west-corridor-a-blast-through-the-greenbelt/

Cycling and Pedestrian Task Force – Yes! In Vaughan

April 19th, 2015
Healthy Communities, Pedestrianization, Transportation issues, Urban Design

If you can’t get to work by bicycle, and in the absence of convenient transit options, you’re going to have to drive. That is Vaughan today.

It is the mindset of the past that has put Vaughan in 200th place among 201 Canadian municipalities for cycling to work (MoneySense, August 2014) and walking-friendly communities.Sidewalk zones But this week, Vaughan took a step towards changing the trend of pedestrian/cycling forgetfulness!

On April 14, 2015, Council approved at Committee of the Whole that a Cycling & Pedestrian Task Force would be established. Through the presentation efforts of Diana Lee, representing Vaughan Bicycle Users Group (BUG), the message was clear. She explained: “Vaughan BUG was created to support the growing number of residents who wanted to build on a stronger cycling community in Vaughan and are passionate about cycling whether for commuting, recreation or as part of their active lifestyle.” BUG proposed that they will engage the residents, businesses and stakeholder groups in Vaughan. The Task Force would be able to give the City staff and Council feedback on programs regarding pedestrians and cyclists. Most recently, BUG has organized cycling events, including a night ride during Earth Hour.

Faux cycle lanes on Peter Rupert and Napa Valley roads were considered a revelation. Although argued as an impediment to on-street parking, the city has finally acknowledged that there is a demand for safe active transportation. With those lines, parallel to and 1.2m from the curb, these lanes will help BUG promote cycling to the public.IMG_00003247

Vaughan is behind neighbours Brampton and Markham in establishing a full Advisory Committee. This Task Force, if successful, may lead to a subcommittee of Council which can review better how the City encourages active transportation in new developments. The suburban planning of the past disregards provision of short cut walks from home to retailers and safe cycling routes have been all but non-existent.peter rupert bike lane A 50-metre truncated bike lane on Keele Street north of McNaughton is testimony to the short-sighted and limited planning for cyclists.

Gains in pedestrian and cycling accessibility will allow the villages of Vaughan to become more connected. Let the Task Force begin!

To see more click “Pedestrianization” and “Transportation Issues” at the right side of this page. Or click http://yorkurbanist.com/category/urban-design/transportation-issues/

Vaughan Traffic Congestion – A Perception

April 18th, 2015
Healthy Communities, Pedestrianization, Transportation issues

Vaughan doesn’t need more traffic lanes! Congestion refers to drivers’ discomfort with anticipated trips. When a 10 minute trip is lasts 15 minutes, traffic’s perception is ‘congestion’. . Vaughan’s congestion can be handled with existing lanes. Following is a breakdown of Traffic Congestion into Trip Length, Frequency and Urgency.

Trip length is longer than it needs to be. There are two factors – suburbanization; and advent of helicopter parents. Each single family dwellings needs to be served by a street. The City adopted street standards of widths and intersections that took up large land space and further separated housing from destinations. The distances between units makes transit too costly to create. To get to destinations, workplace or retail stores or institutions, the only transportation alternative is a car. Our municipal transportation planning focus therefore became a fixation on what the car needs, not what people need.

Thus the second factor, the helicopter parent. Fear has engulfed our psyche around the safety of streets. Easy access to media has made security seem worse than it once was. So, instead of allowing children to walk, ride or take the bus, parents drive their children to school. Accordingly, one experiences significant traffic reduction on school holidays and PD days.

Trip frequency has increased with wealth. Vaughan is one of Canada’s wealthiest municipalities. Making a separate trip to the store instead of combining it with a trip to work is legitimized because the decision is unaffected by the cost of the trip. Disposable income also allows people to indulge in extras such as day spas, fitness clubs and personal services.

Urgency of trips is under-evaluated. Combined with the aforementioned wealth argument, we have no hesitation in driving to the distant grocery store for that one product to complete a meal. Also, the direct costs to drive might be $5, which adds 25%to the cost for a $20 purchase. Driving also cuts into our time management equations. Whereas, prior to suburbanization, we could walk to the corner hardware store, now we are obligated to attend Big Box retailers and their ‘free’ parking conveniences. A fifteen minute distant car trip creates a 1½ hour event. We have no volunteer time because it is taken up in time on the roads.

So, how do we relieve congestion?

vAUGHAN bikelanes_web[1]

Relieving Traffic Congestion

Previously, Traffic Congestion was broken into Trip Length, Frequency and Urgency. The following suggests how the existing infrastructure of Vaughan can be used to reduce perceived ‘Congestion’.

Education

Emphasize to people/drivers the time and dollar cost of their trips in the car. Can we change their behavioural patterns through education? The answer is: likely not. We can afford the car and spread out housing and we are not changing.   But educate the children that they can enjoy a walk or ride to school and help the environment and our next generation could impart change.

Are there ways to make our existing infrastructure more efficient?

Sidewalk zonesThe intelligent street

Through computer technology and physical road planning there are ways to speed the trips taken. With sensors, communication between vehicle and road infrastructure, we could spend less time at traffic signals and increase safety by keeping our vehicles within the limits of the infrastructure. Building roundabouts instead of signalized intersections increases traffic flow by as much as 50%. Smart streets can also respond to transit and emergency vehicles, allowing them to flow more freely through traffic. Intelligent streets will not affect the numbers of trips, indeed it will increase the number of trips because it becomes easier to go from origin to destination.

So how else can we improve infrastructure?

If you need a sign - street designed wrongComplete Streets

The concept of including pedestrians and cyclists with transit and motorized vehicles has grown in the past ten years. It may be adopted by Vaughan on Centre Street in Thornhill. Cyclists have long campaigned for safer and defined corridors. A complete street provides that. Generous sidewalks provide for pedestrian safety and comfort. And transit only lanes/tracks give priority to multi-user vehicles. Although Highway 7 in Richmond Hill/Markham attempts a complete street, the pedestrian is left with a long crossing. Hence, few pedestrians are found. Similarly the cycling lane is a green patch of asphalt. It is unseparated from motorized traffic. Consequently, cyclists are few.

Had the City incorporated a separated cycle lane and generous pedestrian space on Major Mackenzie between Keele Street and Jane Street in Maple, there would be more cyclists and pedestrians venturing between homes and retail. There would be fewer motorists using the route for short trips that cause frequent turns and hence slower traffic.

We do not need to increase and grow streets. We need to think smarter, both planners and citizens of Vaughan.

GTA West Corridor – A Blast Through the Greenbelt

February 25th, 2015
Healthy Communities, Recreation, Trails, Transportation issues

GTA West Corridor map

I am a co-author of trails master plans for York Region and the City of Vaughan. I have had correspondence with others regarding the GTA West Corridor particularly about how its construction will impact cycling and pedestrian activities in the future, during and post construction. The HVHTA will host a trail walk March 7, 2015 in lands that will be impacted by the highway construction. It seems a fait accompli that the highway will be built but there must be a way to ensure that modes other than motorized vehicles are accommodated in what today is designated Greenbelt. Accordingly, I have composed the following short summary, which is consistent with expressions of concern in other jurisdictions affected by GTA West Corridor.

MTO must consider pedestrian and cycling facilities as inherent parts of the GTA West Corridor system:

  • Connected and integrated cycle routes and paths: Newly constructed cycle trails/paths should parallel the proposed motorized vehicular routes. Multi-use Pedestrian / Cycle paths should be a minimum 3m wide allowing access between all overpasses crossing the future highway.
  • Address Municipal Cycling/Pedestrian Master Plans: Peel and York Regions, Brampton, Vaughan and King have Master Plans recommending connected and circumferential trails. These must be integrated into the plans for the Corridor and indeed, become an enhancement to encourage active transportation.
  • Permeability: In particular, frequent pedestrian / cycle overpasses must be part of a permeable system of crossings. Unlike recent MTO constructs, there should be generous and safe sidewalks for pedestrians. Crossings for cyclists should be on a separated lane for safety on all crossings of the future highway, as elevated overpasses can have greater wind velocities.
  • Trail Connections: Ensure the GTA West does not preclude other trail connections, particularly HVHTA’s Bolton to Kleinburg route through the Nashville Tract Conservation lands and Bolton Resource Management Tract Conservation lands.
  • Active transportation facilities: should be integrated in the overall design plan to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists: walking and cycling facilities at interchanges and ramp crossings; accessible crossings located to support direct pedestrian routes; adequate lighting and sight distances.
  • Landscaped Corridor: The poorly vegetated 407 must not be replicated. The GTA West Corridor removes considerable forest cover and hedgerows. These wildlife corridors will be lost. The wind protection and cooling effects they afford need to be compensated. In municipalities, developers are required to replace or compensate for removal of all trees. MTO, by construction of the highway, is a developer and should not be exempt.

I implore any readers of this blog to send a letter to the Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, whose contact information is located: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/members/members_detail.do?locale=en&ID=7205

Response to Provincial Cycling Strategy

December 6th, 2012
Trails, Transportation issues

Cycling Strategy will take much from the Province to ensure the viability of a full network. The Ministry of Transportation is currently reviewing the route for a highway linking Highways 401/402/407/400 from Guelph to Vaughan. There has been no mention of cycling in the document. A new limited access highway will create a barrier to crossing. In this case, north to south access will presumably be for vehicles across bridges over the new route. Cycle lanes on those bridges should be imposed as a requirement for providing Safety and Accessibility. Many of those crossing routes are currently used by cyclists, primarily for tourism and recreation. As a corollory, crossings of limited access highways need to be more generous in width to allow for pedestrian routes and afford wildlife corridors.

But in addition to those crossings, cycling may require mid-concession crossings. Limited access highways should be more permeable allowing for cyclists (and pedestrians) to cross at more locations than motorized vehicles. The study of cycling and pedestrian movements should be a significant part of highway design.


Transportation Planning should be part of City Planning.  Cycling will only increase if the distance between origin and destination is reduced.  Building limited access highways encourages suburban living. Suburban living has had the impact of discouraging commuter cycling.  Only by further encouraging “Places To Grow” will there be significant increase in utilitarian cycling.

 

See also: http://yorkurbanist.com/2012/11/gta-west-corridor-study/

 

Cycling on the increase?

August 8th, 2012
Healthy Communities, Recreation, Transportation issues, Uncategorized

http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1238625–recession-squeezed-greeks-ditch-cars-for-bikes
Is this what it will take to increase cycling in GTA?

Transits Dark Side?

March 2nd, 2012
Transportation issues

Rob Ford is right! I never thought that would be uttered here. If Toronto is ever to enter world class, a looped underground system of transit is necessary. London, New York, Tokyo all manage their transit efficiently underground. Toronto’s difficulty is that they wait until the costs escalate in the urbanized areas to plan the system.

There is an opportunity right now in York Region to avoid the same mess by contemplating underground along what 30 years ago was called the Greenbelt – Highway 7. Has that even been considered? Hopefully consideration is being given to at least retaining a corridor for such, even if it is a generation away.

Highway Signs

January 16th, 2012
Transportation issues

Highway signs are subtly prohibitive.  I like the terseness of these. Click on the picture if the lettering is too small.