York Urbanist

Archive for April, 2015

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.

Trees for Healing

April 24th, 2015
Healthy Communities, Horticulture

The following is an excerpt from Trevor Hancock’s article recently. Trevor is a former Kleinburg, Ontario resident and well-traveled on the speaking circuit.   Islington Crossing watercolour

In 1984, Roger Ulrich at Texas A&M University reported that post-surgical patients who had a view of nature recovered more quickly and needed fewer painkillers than patients with a view of a brick wall. Subsequent research has found that simply seeing pictures of nature can be helpful, while a “healing garden” can reduce stress, improve mood and increase satisfaction among patients, families and staff. One particularly interesting set of results comes from Frances Ming Kuo at the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois. She compared people living in identical social-housing estates where, by chance, some had quite “green” environments (lots of vegetation) and others did not.

She found:

• The greater the amount of greenery in common spaces, the higher the levels of mutual caring and support among neighbours;

• The more vegetation, the lower the crime rate;

• Higher levels of residential greenery are associated with lower levels of aggression against domestic partners;

• The more natural the view from home, the better girls scored on tests of concentration and self-discipline;

• The more greenery, the higher levels of optimism and sense of effectiveness;

• The greener the setting in which children with attention-deficit disorder spend time, the more their symptoms are relieved.

These are remarkable results. But what is also important is that this is social housing, so these are people who are already disadvantaged. To further disadvantage them by providing less green environments seems to add insult to injury. Yet we have solid evidence that access to and contact with nature is related to income. People with higher incomes live closer to parks, and their parks are in better condition, than those living in low-income communities. And of course they are more likely to be able to afford to travel to and spend time in wilderness.

Given the health benefits of contact with nature, the policy challenge we face is not how to get people to nature, important though that might be, but how to get nature to people. We will never get all the people in our cities out to the wilderness on a regular basis (and if we did, the wilderness would suffer). So how do we bring nature into homes and streets, schools and neighbourhoods?

These are important issues for governments to consider. We need more pocket parks, street trees, school and community gardens and other green assets in our communities. Even more important, we need to preferentially increase access to and contact with nature for low-income urban populations, whose needs for such access and contact are greater. Dr. Trevor Hancock is a professor and senior scholar at the University of Victoria’s school of public health and social policy. [email protected]

This is posted to reflect the reasons for Trees For Kleinburg - See http://yorkurbanist.com/2015/03/19/green-ribbon-campaign-kleinburg-on/

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:



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’.


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.

Player’s Championship

April 7th, 2015
Curling, Uncategorized

Will the Grand Slam become the essence of curling in Canada?

The numbers are down for the Brier and Scotties in venues that once filled the rafters. This year, the McEwen team, considered the best in the world, was a no-show at the Brier. The experiment with this year’s Brier – relegation (The “Prior”) and Team Canada(?) – did not flop entirely, but it sure made a curling nation restless. A poor Nova Scotia showing perhaps has Haligonians staying away in droves from their World Championships.

Teams talk of the four year cycle. It has nothing to do with curling’s national events. It has to do with over-the-top Olympic fever. Watch for changes there, too. There are fewer cities willing to fund the extravaganza of sport.

But the Grand Slams have taken on a new flavour! They have expanded this year and television has grabbed hold. They ensure that the best curling is portrayed every time the ice is pebbled. What team does not want to get an invitation? Flag waving often takes place, international teams attend and the money is growing. The live audience needs to grow, but that will come with time. Put the events in appropriate size arenas and demand will lift seat prices. And we are guaranteed to see the best curlers, including Team McEwen. Moose Jaw arena 2015 Scotties

The future of the curling elite game is with the Grand Slam format.

Curling Trends – For Business

April 3rd, 2015

Recreation Trends

Recreation Trends is the third in a series of three articles. The last two issues of The Curling News featured Technological Adaptation and Financial Planning.

Curling was rocked in the early 1990’s. At the time, many were perplexed at what was happening. The number of participants in bonspiels was trending down and urban curling facilities were closing. Often when one is in the midst of change, there is little understood of the evolution. The accumulated wealth of the baby boom generation, unique to Canada, allowed options for recreation pursuits. High end recreation such as golf courses and ski resorts were in their heyday. Yet nary was a curling club being constructed. Boomers could afford elite. The sport of Curling with its stronghold in the farm communities was not considered an elite sport. But participation in the Olympics was to change its status. The question: Was the sport ready to change with the tide? If the US example is an indicator, then curling there is ready:

“..so far in 2011, USA Curling reports close to a 19 percent increase in total membership in the past year. Even better, since the 2001-02 season, USA Curling’s membership has grown 53 percent from 10,805 to 16,512!” http://www.canadianexpatnetwork.com/public/995.cfm

“During the 2012-13 season, four dedicated curling facilities with a total of 22 sheets of ice were completed.” http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Curling/Clubs/Growth-and-Development/Building-a-Club

For those with physical or program expansion plans , here are a few of the CURRENT TRENDS that could affect your decision making.


Lack of Personal Time because of competition from other recreation pursuits and careers.

Employment outside municipality of residence reduces/changes recreation time due to commute.


  1. Adapt to changing leisure hours
  2. Create flexible program hours


reprinted from www.curling.ca

reprinted from www.curling.ca

2010 National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participatingindicated that voluntarism is rising slightly, but experience in several other communities suggest that many groups still struggle in finding volunteers.

One key result of the national survey was that 18% of the volunteer hours in Canada are in the sports and recreation sector

The rate of voluntarism by those between the ages of 15 and 24 has doubled from 29% in 2000 to 58% in 2007, perhaps largely due to the addition of mandatory volunteer hours for high school students.

Seniors currently represent the most active volunteer group.

Canadian immigrants represent a large proportion of the volunteer pool


  1. Create volunteer positions that have finite time limitations.
  2. Identify the skills of members and flatter them by asking for assistance. “All you have to do is ask”


12% single parent families, increasing 1% over 5 years

Concern with physically inactive parents


  1. Create flexibility.
  2. Introduce more unstructured activities.
  3. Provide opportunities for parents and children to participate at the same time.


Today’s digital age is filled with sedentary activities, resulting in continued concerns regarding physical inactivity. This is most prevalent among youth and children and can lead to significantly increased risk of threatening cardiac events and obesity

The level of physical inactivity increases with age and is the new smoking gun.

Knoxville-20130607-00732Awareness is building. ParticipAction started in the 1990’s and continues.


  1. Market curling as a physically active sport, which relates to everyone’s physical attributes.
  2. Add a fitness facility to the mix of offerings in a multi-use facility


This age demographic intends to keep working after retirement age, possibly through part‐time work or launching new careers:

  • Men want to relax more and spend more time with their spouse.
  • Women see retirement as providing more time for career development, community involvement, and personal growth.

Boomers are moving to put others first (e.g., family, community, etc.) instead of themselves. (They were previously coined as the ‘ME’ generation). This change in attitude may be tapped for an increase in voluntarism.

Immigrant volunteers provide a variety of benefits to organizations including multi‐lingual assets, skill capacity, and providing a new outlook and perspective that may assist service delivery among organizations.


  1. Emphasize growing daylight hour’s participation.
  2. Daytime will become prime time.
  3. Mixed curling opportunities appeal to men.
  4. Family curling opportunities appeal to parents.
  5. Offer volunteer opportunities.
  6. Like golf courses do with course marshals, trade skills for ice time.


The ‘new senior’ will typically be wealthier and more physically active than those in previous generationsage-is-mind-over-matter


  1. Consider facility amenities such as light, water, seating, and accessible washrooms.
  2. Increase daytime use of recreation facilities.
  3. Seniors are seeking opportunities for casual sports, active living, and a greater variety of choices


Level of income is proportional to participation in recreation activities, especially in organized team sports. Given the high cost to participate,

40% of children among households earning over $100,000 are involved in organized physical activities and sports, whereas only 21% of children are involved in these pursuits in households earning less than $50,000.


  1. Market to the higher income demographic
  2. Put less emphasis on reducing the cost of fees and more on improving the experience.


Many cultures view recreation as a family event and are more inclined to pursue activities together. Newcomers to Canada are frequent users of community spaces as these are ideal locations for social gatherings and interaction. The variety of passive and active pursuits between cultures is immense, with many activities serving to define cultures and how they interact. Social gathering spaces are perhaps the most sought after ‘non‐traditional’ recreations.


  1. Identify the demographic of the community. Set a goal to match the demographic in your facility.
  2. Learn the needs of that demographic. When designing the facility accommodate the social gathering space requirements.


The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 15% of the world’s population lives with a disability, making this group the world’s largest minority.In Canada, the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey conducted by Statistics Canada in 2006 estimated that approximately 4.4 million

Canadians were challenged with a disability, with nearly one‐quarter of those living in Ontario.


  1. For new or renovated facilities, follow AODA requirements.
  2. Program for blind and wheelchair athletes utilizing national programs


Communities are moving away from single‐purpose, stand‐alone facilities in favour of multi‐use facilities that integrate numerous activities and offer economies of scale with respect to construction, maintenance, staffing, and scheduling. Multi‐use facilities are often designed with flexible spaces (e.g., activity rooms, gymnasiums, etc.) that have the potential to expand and easily respond to changing trends and demands of future users.


Design facilities to address demand for recreations that complement curling.


Trails and bike lanes are increasingly accommodating a more active, integrated lifestyle. And, yes, cyclists ride in winter.


  1. Locate close to users
  2. Provide facilities for storage and showers