TOUCHSTONE

ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION WORKSHOP REPORT

BRACEBRIDGE
FEBRUARY 2013

On November 7, 2012 approximately 30 people with diverse backgrounds came together in downtown Bracebridge with a common purpose. They participated in a workshop and walkabout that focused on active transportation and the opportunities it can provide for improving the livability and success of their community. The day’s work was led and facilitated by internationally recognized active transportation expert, and President of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, Dan Burden. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit sponsored the event and provided staff support.

Introduction
The workshop afforded participants with the opportunity to be introduced to key active transportation concepts, and also about the critical links between active transportation and: • • • • • Community economic development; Pedestrian oriented developments; Placemaking; Community health; and, C o s t e f f e c t i ve, e f fi c i e n t a n d s u s t a i n a b l e transportation infrastructure investments.

• Trail system for active transportation and, • Long-term planning for better active transportation. The short walkabout tour included a number of different physical settings that represent a microcosm of the community. Participants saw some of the contexts and issues that will have to be addressed in future active transportation initiatives and plans for the greater community, including: • • • • • • • • • • • Placemaking; Community park location, identity and design; Infill development opportunities; Commercial street corridors; Active transportation friendly bridge designs; Site designs (parking, building orientation and scale, pedestrian links); Trail and sidewalk linkages; Road diets; Mixed-use developments; Trail/walkway easements; and, Wayfinding signage.

The diversity of the participants indicated the well-rounded interest in active transportation of the greater community. Concerns and interests brought up during the discussions about active transportation included: • • • • • • • • • Needs of elderly citizens; Travel to and from schools; Affect on businesses; Health of the community; Safety; Regional connections; Rural & town roads; Site development; Communication and education;

During the workshop and throughout the walkabout Mr. Burden challenged the participants to identify projects that could move the community forward in its evolution to being being more walkable and livable. Robert Voigt MCIP, RPP Planning Engagement Design Springwater, Ontario 705-220-1648 rob@robvoigt.com

The discussion then moved to what Dan referred to as “100 Day Projects”; those actions people could commit to doing in a compressed timeline and with the resources currently available. These are the kinds of projects that are often the early steps before a more comprehensive and strategic longterm plan is developed in a community. This approach to making improvements that support active transportation allows for quick results-oriented projects to be undertaken by the community’s current active transportation “champions”. This kind of work, where the members of a community come together to identify, recognize and build upon each others’ skills and knowledge to move their community toward a positive and successful future is often referred to as Asset Based Community Development.

A Reference for Action
This Touchstone Report is intended to provide the participants and community with reference material that can be used to advance active transportation in and around Bracebridge. It is not intended to be complete, nor does it fully reflect all of the awaiting opportunities in Bracebridge. Instead, it lays out information that can be used to implement immediate actions, as well as some broader strategies that can be applied on a long‐term basis. As Dan recommended; take this information and be practical and strategic: start with easy wins first, gain momentum, discover the broad-based desire throughout the community to provide greater respect for your children and elders to have a more active lifestyle and then expand outward.

Participants at the workshop listen to the presentation given by Dan Burden, and discuss challenges facing the community.

Examples of missed opportunities identified during the walkable: lack of sidewalks as part of residential developments, and poorly maintained sidewalks in commercial areas.
Images: Robert Voigt

The 100 Day Projects discussed are just the kind of initiatives that facilitate ABCD in a community and allow its citizens, the municipality and other partners to get involved, take action, and direct their collective future with whatever they can “bring to the table”. ABCD takes advantage of people’s passion, knowledge, and skills; using them in projects that have virtually instantaneous results that are easily recognizable by the greater community. Also, the combined incremental changes from these kinds of projects can help with a larger community-wide evolution.

Use this Touchstone Report as a tool when developing mid and long-term projects and strategic plans to make Bracebridge more active transportation friendly. Hopefully it will inspire a series of actions toward a more walkable and livable community.

It’s your town, your ideas, your choices, and your actions that will make it happen.

Active Transportation
CHALLENGE to ACTION

Image: Robert Voigt

What is Active Transportation?
Active transportation means any form of transportation that is human-powered. It includes walking, cycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, cross country skiing, and canoeing & kayaking; it also includes transport for persons using assistive mobility devices. In fact all trips include active transportation components, sometimes even just the act of walking to and from a car or transit vehicle. The most popular modes of active transportation are walking and cycling. Walking/ wheeling is the only for m of transportation that can be taken completely independently of all others for an entire trip from beginning to destination. The importance of active transportation is increasing ly recognized as a relevant issue in light of environmental; chronic disease; and personal mobility issues, as well as the economic impacts associated with communities that are not

designed and built to be active transportation “friendly”. This will continue to increase in importance d u e t o a n a g i n g p o p u l at i o n ; challenging peoples’ quality of life and enhancing the appeal of compact, walkable communities. ( Ontario Professional Planners Institute,

Planning and Implementing Active Transportation in Ontario Communities: A Call To Action, 2012)

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s 2009 Road Safety Report describes the health benefits of how we design for active transportation: The way our communities are designed is a contributing factor to injuries and deaths from motor vehicle-pedestrian collisions and motor vehicle-cyclist collisions. Road design (sidewalks, roads, bike paths, etc.) and the types of features it contains (speed bumps, crosswalks, streetscape, etc.) affects how often, how far and how fast we drive, traffic volume, and our choice of transportation mode... Designing communities that are less sprawled (leading to fewer vehicle trips) and providing for safer street environments that protect pedestrians and cyclists, can reduce or prevent road-related injuries and fatalities.

Active transportation is particularly important recognizing that it is necessary for people that do not have a choice outside of these modes for getting around. People who are physically, economically and socially disadvantaged often have to rely on more active transportation modes; therefore planning and providing safe and convenient options for these help a community achieve social equity and economic opportunity goals. (Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute,
Whose Roads? Evaluating Bicyclists’ and Pedestrians’ Right to Use Public Roadways, May 31, 2012)

to walk or cycle to school. Although 3.5% said they currently ride their bicycle to school, 26.8% would prefer this mode of transportation. (Catherine O’Brien, PhD. Centre for
Sustainable Transportation, Child and Youth Friendly Planning, presentation, 2008)

Rural Context
Compared to more urbanized areas, in rural communities like Bracebridge, the challenge for connectivity and proximity for active transportation is greatly exacerbated by lower population density, and the often limited capacity for capital/ infrastructure improvements. The result can often be reduced use of active transportation in rural areas. The 2010 Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit: Rapid Risk Factor S u r ve i l l a n c e S y s t e m ( R R F S S ) i d e n t i fi e d t h a t u s e o f a c t i ve transportation was significantly higher among urban residents (41%) compared with rural residents (31%) The arrangement of a community’s land uses have direct influence on the ability of active transportation to be a viable choice for its citizens and visitors. If compatible uses are physically se parated by g reat distances and/or barriers such as busy roadways, it becomes very difficult for people to use active transportation modes to participate in daily activities. Transport Canada’s, Sustainable Transportation in Small and Rural Communities (June 2006) highlights the following two municipalities as examples of how communities with similar challenges as Bracebridge’s can improve walkability and active transportation with the right plans and commitment:

Aging Population
Transport Canada states that physical activity from active transportation can also help elderly individuals continue to live independently. (Transport Canada, The Links Between Public Independence, Activity and Good Health: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors published in 2013 addresses Healthy S e n i o r s, S e n i o r- Fr i e n d l y Communities, and Safety and Security. Various aspects of active transportation and walkable community planning and design are identified as part of this. The Plan states:

Health and Sustainable and Active Transportation, December 2006). The Province’s

Support for what the World Health Organization (WHO) calls Age-Friendly Communities is becoming increasingly widespread. As defined by WHO, agefriendly communities adapt their “structures and services to be accessible to and inclusive of older people with varying needs and capacities. According to the World Health Organization, age-friendly cities and communities must address the needs of seniors across eight dimensions: - outdoor spaces and buildings (walkways, roads, parks, ect.) - transportation - housing - social participation - respect and social inclusion - civic participation and employment - communication - community support and health services.

Infrastr ucture to support active transportation, community gardens and parks, and places to meet and socialize with others are all part of walkable and livable communities with high quality of life.

Paying attention to all modes in street planning can also create a more efficient system that responds better to travel demand (National Complete Streets Coalition, Complete Streets Ease Congestion, 2011). This is something that can support peoples’ preferences for active transportation. A 2003 survey of nearly 1200 of grade one students revealed only 52% meet the national guidelines for daily physical activity (90 min of physical activity) and the 2008 Ontario Walkability Study identified that nearly 75% of students surveyed would prefer

Saanich: The District of Saanich, BC is a good example of a community that has improved its active transportation infrastructure. Approximately half of its 110,000 Images: Robert Voigt population is classified as rural. Since 1993, the district has constructed more than 50 kilometres of on-road cycling infrastructure and pedestrian linkages have been improved by constructing new sidewalks and a multi-use trail system. As a result, bicycle commuting increased from 4% in 1999 to 11% in 2004. Whitehorse Despite its extreme climate, Whitehorse, Yukon has one of the highest year-round cycling populations. The city decided to capitalize on this by introducing Wheel 2 Work, a campaign that encourages people to

commute by bicycle during the summer season. In order to support active transportation in its community, the city spent approximately $2 million improving its cycling infrastructure. Improvements included upgrading multi-use paths, installing new lighting along selected pathways, and constructing a new bicycle/pedestrian bridge and new bicycle lanes. In early 2006, the City partnered with the Recreation Parks Association of the Yukon to create an incentive-based program to help encourage more people to cycle to work between May and September. Participants signed up to track the number of kilometres they cycled over the five-month period and prizes were offered as incentives. In its first summer, 210 people participated in the program, logging almost 40,000 kilometres.

support active living and active transportation. This Touchstone Report complements earlier efforts, and suggests taking the strength of community “champions” and potential investors to ratchet up solutions to a much higher level.

Local Opportunity
Bracebridge generally has the open space, block pattern and structure to become a thriving place, and a model for the region. It is time to take both volunteer and agency muscle to recover individual and community health. The eroded built environment also affects whether three generations of North Americans—the younger Generations X and Y, and the retiring baby boomers—will want to settle, stay in place, go to school or visit here. If they do, they will bring increased jobs, investment, social life and social cohesion to this community. Active transportation provides opportunities for social connections, and community building. Muscle power is the most energy efficient, personally rewarding, and least costly

Moving beyond livability to quality of life!
Walkable and livable communities are designed to accommodate an individual over the course of their lifetime. Regardless of age or ability, the built environment

Developments that are disconnected and make walking impractical and unsafe, and major infrastructure investments such as bridges that do not take into account the needs of walkers and cyclists impact the community. They reduce property values, limit the mobility of citizens, and waste money.
Images: Robert Voigt

is supportive of people performing their daily activities. While we know that physical activity is good for us, more than half of Canadians do not meet the daily recommendations set by national and provincial health agencies. Yet people who have sidewalks in their neighborhoods reported more minutes of recreational walking. Adults living in high walkability neighborhoods engage in forty‐one more minutes of total physical activity per week than those in low walkability neighborhoods. The solution to much of what ails us resides in building walkable communities. Our goal must be communities that are accessible, efficient and that work for all. Transportation should offer choices and spur economic growth. Development must be sustainable and contribute to social cohesion and work‐life balance. Our cities and towns must contribute to improved air, land and water quality. Anything less is incomplete, and unacceptable to a caring society. Many efforts have been made, or are underway, in and around Bracebridge and in other similar communities to

mode of transportation. Creating safe walking spaces, especially in towns such as Bracebridge benefits users of all modes, even motorists, as they become pedestrians between their parking space and destination. Walkability makes economic sense, too. The National Safety Council (U.S.) estimates the cost of a single pedestrian fatality at $4.3 million, while curb extensions and high‐visibility crosswalks cost as little as $50,000 and $1,200 respectively. When we also consider the fact that a well designed crossing has the potential to prevent multiple pedestrian injuries and fatalities, the savings add up and build a clear case for investing in pedestrian safety. Interest in active transportation is growing throughout Canada. People are looking at walking and cycling as more than just recreation. Active transportation as viable and desirable ways of traveling for daily activities is increasingly common. The Active Living & Environment Program has identified that 70% of Canadians indicated they would be willing to travel up to 30 minutes to work if they could enjoy the safety and convenience of a bike lane. (Go for Green The
Active Living & Environment Program, Fitting Places: How the Built Environment Affects Active Living and Active Transportation)

Planning for the Future
In fact, communities should be taking all these things into account when they create their strategic plans and design & build infrastructure and new developments. The recently released Call to Action from the Ontario Professional Planners Institute states: New planning and engineering policies and standards are being developed throughout North America and globally, not only to allow, but to require the safe, efficient and effective accommodation of active transportation modes within the shared right-of-way. Planners in Ontario should be facilitating adoption and implementation of similar requirements, plans, and projects. (Ontario Professional Planners
Institute, Healthy Communities and Planning for Active Transportation: A Call to Action, 2012)

• Province of Ontario – Places to Grow; • Heart and Stroke Foundation; and, • Canadian Index of Well-being. Many health experts now recognize that basic urban planning practices - specifically, transportation and land use policies - can help to achieve population health objectives. In fact, zoning , subdivision regulations and building codes were originally intended to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the public. (Smart Growth BC, Promoting Public
Health Through Smart Growth: Building Healthier Communities Through Transportation and Land Use Policies and Practices,). However, the key

Active transportation is not just a recreational activity, and people’s perspective of its desirability and potential role in their lives is indicated by research recently conducted by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. The Health Unit has identified the importance people place on select destinations being within walking distance to their homes. Note that the top four destinations identified as Very Important are equally divided between recreationally

responsibility and capacity for evolution toward a more healthy community rests with its citizens, and local government and businesses. This is why it is important for the participants of the workshop to see themselves as champions of this change.

Benefits
The Ontario Professional Planners Institute identifies the multiple community benefits of active transportation as (Ontario Professional Planners Institute, Planning and Implementing Active Transportation in Ontario Communities: A Call To Action, 2012):

Well designed “shortcuts” through developments, and strategically located park spaces and trails linked to a system of sidewalks can significantly improve walkability.

Images: Google

oriented and “daily business” destinations, listed here in order of preference: 1) 2) 3) 4) Parks; trails; open green spaces Grocery stores Recreational facilities Schools

• • • • •

Health; Safety; Environmental; Social/community; and, Economic.

The understanding of the importance and connection between community health and how we build our communities, including our street systems, is growing and includes: • World Health Organization; • Ontario Medical Association (obesity and air quality reports); • Ontario College of Family Physicians report on Urban Sprawl; • Chief Medical Officer of Health – Healthy Weights Healthy Lives, 2004; • Ontario Professional Planners Institute – Healthy Communities and Planning for Active Transportation;

Active transportation: brings economic benefits by reducing the social costs of transportation, supporting local stores and services, and attracting tourists who wish to get around without a car. It enhances street life, increasing citizen interaction and improving personal security. (Transport Canada, Improving Travel Options in Small & Rural Communities, 2009) The good news is that people who use active and sustainable modes of transportation are at a lower risk of exposure to air pollution. In fact, drivers and car passengers are exposed o up to 10 times more pollution than pedestrians, cyclists or transit users. (Transport Canada, The Links Between Public Health and Sustainable and Active Transportation, December 2006)

Social Capital
The conclusions found in Social Capital and the Built Environment: The Importance of Walkable Neighbourhoods found that persons living in walkable, mixed-use neighbourhoods have higher levels of social capital compared with those living in car-oriented suburbs; and that walkable, mixed-use neighbourhood designs can encourage the development of social capital. (Leyden, Kevin M., PhD, Social Capital and the Built
Environment: The Importance of Walkable Neighbourhoods, Research and Practice, American Journal of Public Health, September 2003, Vol 93, No. 9)

A singular focus on vehicle speed and efficiency has had many negative effects on the retail and the social life of streets, as well. People often find it difficult to get across these streets and feel uncomfortable walking along them, especially when traffic speeds are high. When pedestrians feel unsafe, they are not likely to linger on the street and spend their money in local shops. This has impacted land values, and it has driven more people to drive more of the time.

Level of Service (LOS) measures also focus on vehicle mobility at the expense of all other modes. We generally do not consider acceptable Levels of Service for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, people living along the street, Kevin M., PhD, Social Capital and the Built Environment: The or retailers attempting to make a living. In smaller Importance of Walkable Neighbourhoods, Research and and rural communities this has Practice, American Journal of Public Health, resulted in connectivity to and September 2003, Vol 93, No. 9) The more between communities and their connected we are with our downtowns to be subordinated for community, the less likely we are to easier auto-oriented access to experience various illnesses. Many regional shopping centres. It has also studies over the last 20 years have A detailed evaluation of resulted in development patterns that shown that people who are socially Bracebridge’s “3-Cs”: forgo the historic forms that support disconnected are between 2 and 5 active transportation, placemaking, times more likely to die from all and healthy community interaction. conditions causes. (Putnam RD. Bowling Alone: The Through misdirected long-range Collapse and Revival of American Community. context plans and capital improvements that New York, NY: Simon & Schuster; 2000 quoted in Leyden, Kevin M., PhD, Social community place premiums on suburban-style Capital and the Built Environment: The Importance of development patterns as opposed to Walkable Neighbourhoods, Research and Practice, leveraging existing assets and American Jour nal of Public Health, is needed before developing a strategic investments, many rural downtowns September 2003, Vol 93, No. 9). plan for active transportation. Such a and existing neighbourhoods are now faced with competing auto-oriented plan would guide the efforts of the The World Health Organization recognizes residential subdivisions and shopping municipality and citizens toward that cities that invest in active transportation malls and plazas. Even schools are programs and policies can: Save money on improving Active Transportation. located in areas that have limited transportation infrastructure; Have more connectivity for people traveling by productive citizens and workers; Be more foot or bike, are segregated from As shown by the participant livable and attractive to residents, employers other compatible uses, and add little and visitors; Have less air and noise “champions” of the workshop, even to the overall neighbourhood/ pollution and better access to green spaces; without such a plan, there is the community. Enhance neighbourhood revitalization, capacity available NOW, to take social cohesion and community identity; some actions toward improving and, Expand social networks. (Transport Social networks and community involvement have positive health effects on people resulting in them being physically and mentally healthier and living longer lives. (Leyden,

3C

Canada, Active Transportation in Canada, a resource and planning guide, 2011)

Bracebridge as a walkable and livable community that is active transportation friendly.

Rural Areas

Where Are We Now?
All over North America, we have applied advanced engineering to move more cars and to move them faster. With that as our benchmark, we passed the test with flying colors. The unintended result, though, is a system of streets that accommodate cars but deter people from walking, biking, and socializing. This impacts human health, the economy of our towns, and the potential for a sustainable future. Looking back, we must collectively realize that there are much broader goals that our streets and our small towns must serve, and it is these goals that we should now pour our passion, energy, and engineering into.

Compared to more urbanized areas, in rural communities the challenge for connectivity and proximity for active transportation is greatly exacerbated by lower population density, and the often limited capacity for capital/ infrastructure improvements. The result can often be reduced use of active transportation in rural areas: 2010 Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit: Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS) identified that the use of active transportation was significantly higher among urban residents (41%) compared with rural residents (31%) Dispersed, very low-density land uses make it harder for transit, active transportation and ridesharing strategies to succeed. In contract, traditional village cores have a concentration of shops, businesses and housing that makes them practical place to walk or cycle, and that can make them a potential hub for public transit services between

communities. Across Canada, small and rural communities have a greater and faster-growing proportion of elderly residents than urban areas do. This is especially true in retirement and resort communities. As seniors age and face a reduced ability to drive, they become more dependent on other travel options to meet personal needs like shopping, medical care and social engagements.” (Transport Canada, Improving
Travel Options in Small & Rural Communities, 2009)

First Steps Toward an Action Plan
The workshop and walkabout event did not provide near the depth of analysis or community engagement to generate an action plan or technical memorandum for guiding specific work in Bracebridge. However the information presented, and conversations begun, combined with the information in this Touchstone Report represent one of the many first steps being taken by individuals, community groups, politicians, and business owners/ operators to make Bracebridge more walkable and active transportation friendly. To facilitate moving the community forward the following outlines some primary elements necessary for developing a more structured and complete strategic action plan for active transportation. This will help begin the important work of: framing thoughts and efforts; identifying and building partnerships; and, explaining to key community influencers the scope of what needs to be done. The Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) has identified the list below as the “most important” barriers that impede progress toward community objectives fo r g re at e r a c t i ve transportation activity.

By 2031, one-quarter of all Canadians will be 65 or older (Statistics Canada) and, according to Transport Canada, older Canadians tend to use transit more than any other age group. For those living in rural areas, lack of transportation is a top concern. In comparison, fewer young people, aged 20-44, are choosing to live in small and rural areas. Almost 36% of the population in larger metropolitan areas is between the ages of 20 and 44, compared to rural areas where the percentage is only about 28% (Statistics Canada, 2006). If these trends continue, in only a few decades, there will be a much higher proportion of seniors living i n s m a l l a n d r u ra l communities. And, if even a portion of these older Canadians cannot or choose not to drive, communities will need to carefully rethink personal transportation options ( Tr a n s p o r t C a n a d a ,
Sustainable transportation in small and rural communities, June 2006)

The generally compact form of the existing core of many rural communities, such as Bracebridge, provide a huge benefit f o r w a l k a b i l i t y. ; destinations like As the citizens of schools, shops, and Bracebridge, and the places of employment municipality make are often within progress toward walking distance of Active Transportation can be enhanced by many factors, including seating making the town more r e s i d e n t i a l and bike parking at appropriate locations; high quality transit stops; and walkable and active neighborhoods. There accessible connections to a network of public sidewalks, walkways and transportation friendly are challenges, too, with trails. they will have to be Images: Robert Voigt communities bisected prepared to meet these by highways, and newer development located on challenges. Given the diversity of people that participated surrounding areas and reaching outward away from the in the workshop, there is clearly capacity within the existing built-up areas. The good news is that a paradigm community to build upon and successfully address these shift is happening throughout North America. New issues, and/or create partnerships with others that can guidelines and recommendations support holistic planning facilitate and support this work. that considers users of all modes of transportation, equity and accessibility concerns, and integrates land use and Most Important Barriers other planning considerations. • Funding • Data When cities and towns provide equitable access to a • Built Form complete transportation system, they send the message that • Cycling Culture people—not just cars—belong. Walkable streets may teem • Individual Perceptions of Cycling with people shopping, commuting by foot, or simply • Winter Weather enjoying recreation and exercise. No matter one’s age, • Geography income, ability, or mode of transport, the place works and • Other Institutional Issues the benefits are tremendous.

Active Transportation can be enhanced by many factors, including: • Street connectivity. Streets should be arranged in a fine‐ grain grid without unnecessary cul‐de‐sacs, with many route options. • Road widths that contribute to slower vehicle speeds. The wider a road/travel lane is (or appears to be), the faster the drivers tend to travel. The faster cars are traveling, the less safe and comfortable a person feels living, running a shop, walking, or bicycling next to them. • A sense of security. A feeling of comfort is created by facing homes & buildings toward the street, and providing transparency (windows & doors at street level) so people can watch over the street. • Traffic speeds that are appropriate for the context. In retail environments, roads should be designed to keep vehicle speeds between 30 & 40 kph. At that speed, pedestrians are comfortable on sidewalks and motorist yield at crosswalks. • Pedestrian crossings that are comfortable & convenient. Providing safe, frequent crossings for pedestrians along major vehicle corridors is an important element of walkability and completing the pedestrian network. • Gateway features that create a sense of arrival. When

This information can be adapted to the context and capacity at hand in Bracebridge at anytime to create initiatives that will make the town more walkable and livable.

1. Understanding the Community
One of the very first steps that the community needs to do is to do an analysis of the overall walkability, and active transportation “friendliness” of the town with direct citizen involvement. Walking and biking audits are a great way to do this work. The Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach (2010) describes the “Continuum of Walkability” as falling into a range which includes: Pedestrian Places; Pedestrian Supportive; Pedestrian Tolerant; and Pedestrian Intolerant. (Institute of Transportation Engineers, Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach, 2010) The walkability audit process can help the community identify and categorize its corridors, neighbourhoods, places, and districts within this continuum with specifically identified characteristics. This

Nontraditional methods of engaging citizens, such as onsite public meetings can help develop i m p o r t a n t partnerships and trust within the community.
Images: Robert Voigt

motorists are given visual cues that they have entered a community and are no longer on the open highway, they reduce their speeds and are more respectful of all users on the road. • A pedestrian network that is accessible. When these steps are taken, it improves accessibility not just for pedestrians in wheelchairs or with walkers, but for the elderly, for mothers pushing strollers, and for tourists. Successfully developing a community that is active transportation friendly requires a number of specific characteristics. Each of these is important, and without which, the end results will be less than optimal. These five main areas of attention are as follows: 1. Understanding the Community 2. Network 3. Placemaking 4. Site design and End of trip facilities 5. Engagement and information

information will be used to directly inform implementation actions. The walkability audits shall consider the full range of factors that affect walkability in a community or neighbourhood, specifically: directness; continuity; street crossings; visual interest and amenities; and, security. A single methodology should be used throughout the auditing process. However, amendments can be made if determined to be appropriately addressing a shortfall or concern resulting from experience with previous audits. This will help increase awareness and help develop the priorities of the community in terms of future active transportation initiatives. These should be conducted with the citizens and business owners of the area with facilitation by Town staff and external consultants as necessary. The purpose of this will be to inform future necessary initiatives, programs, or improvements that could be added to the near-range and 100 projects. These audits should be conducted in daytime hours as well as after dark to identify concerns for personal security; which will better facilitate targeting of improvements. These should also include assessments by persons with disabilities. (Walk21, International Charter for Walking, 2010)

2. Networks
Beyond the simple goal of developing an extensive network of pedestrian and cyclist routes throughout a community that make it possible for people to travel without a vehicle, there are key characteristics that are equally, if not more, important. The network(s) of walkways, trails, bike routes, and sidewalks needs to have very specific characteristics to be successful: • Routes need to be connected and convenient. • Routes need to be purposeful, in that they connect locations people want and need to go • People need to feel safe and secure and enjoying their journey • Networks of routes need to be understandable by users. An easy acronym to remember this is to think of the word SAFE, which stands for: Secure, Accessible, Functional, and Efficient.

has resulted in dangerous road networks throughout communities for active transportation users. This didn’t just happen; streets have been designed, built, and maintained in ways that favour vehicle movements over the needs of pedestrians and cyclists. However, there is encouraging evidence that injury and fatality rates decrease as active transportation mode shares increase, and effect that has been dubbed “safety in numbers”. The Safety in numbers effect is complicated by the fact that in areas higher active transportation mode share, transportation infrastructure is often designed with the safety of pedestrians and cyclists in mind. (National Collaborating Centre for
Environmental Health, Active Transportation in Urban Areas: Exploring Health Benefits and Risks, 2010)

One of the effects of not designing complete streets is increased risk to people that use non-motorized transportation, the National Collaborating Center for Environmental Health cautions: to minimize the risk of injury, it is important that urban transportation infrastructure be carefully designed for active modes. (National Collaborating Centre for Environmental
Health, Active Transportation in Urban Areas: Exploring Health Benefits and Risks, 2010)

Participants at the Bracebridge walkabout lead by Dan Burden; and discussions during the workshop.

Images: Robert Voigt

There are a number of interlaced components of the overall community-wide network, including streets, trails, walkways, sidewalks, and, bikeways. The following will describe key concepts about two of these: A) complete streets; and, B) share the road routes.

A) Complete streets
In recent decades the design parameters of the roads constructed throughout North America have relied too heavily on level-of-service (LOS) and increasing vehicle traffic speeds, thereby skewing their use more and more toward a single mode of transportation. This has also negatively impacted adjacent land-use and values, and the overall safety for active transportation users. In fact, People who choose active transport modes face an increased risk of injury from collisions, relative to motor vehicle users. (National Collaborating Centre
for Environmental Health, Active Transportation in Urban Areas: Exploring Health Benefits and Risks, 2010)

It is important to note that there is no inherent need for a “trade-off ” between cars and active transportation. Good design and engineering can effectively support all modes of transportation; the National Complete Streets Coalition states: Planning and designing roads to make them safer for all users and more inviting to pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users can increase overall capacity and efficiency without a negative impact on automobile travel. (National Complete Streets Coalition, Complete Streets Ease Congestion, 2011) The first recommendations defined in both the Pedestrian Death Review (Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario, Pedestrian Death Review, September 2012) and Cycling Death Review from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario is focused on developing complete streets: A ‘complete streets’ approach should be adopted to guide the redevelopment of existing communities and the creation of new communities throughout Ontario. Such an approach would require that and (re-)development give consideration to enhancing safety for all road users, and should include: - Creation of cycling networks (incorporating strategies such as connected cycling lanes, separated bike lanes, bike paths and other models appropriate to the community.) –

By not focusing on safety for pedestrians and cyclists in the design of transportation systems over the past few decades,

Designation of community safety zones in residential areas, with reduced posted maximum speeds and increased fines for speeding. (Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario, Cycling Death Review, June 2012)

This should be referenced as a significant source of design guidance for the local streets that are more centrally located with greater diversity and urban mix of uses, such as the primary retail/commercial corridors. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials also describes the need for complete streets considerations in Policy On Geometric Design of Highways and Streets: Designers should recognize the implications of this sharing of transportation corridors and are encouraged to consider not only vehicular movement, but also movement of people, distribution of goods, and provision of essential services. A more comprehensive transportation program is thereby emphasized. Cost-effective design is also emphasized. The traditional procedure of comparing highway-user benefits with costs has been expanded to reflect the needs of non-users and the environment. (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Policy On Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, 2001) AASHTO also clearly defines the need to address pedestrian needs in all street designs: Pedestrians are a part of every roadway environment, and attention

Design Considerations
The long-term planning for the community should include provisions for: a) providing connectivity among transportation modes for moving people and for moving goods b) offer a balance of transportation choices that reduces reliance upon any single mode and promotes transit, cycling and walking c) offer multi-modal access to jobs, housing, schools, cultural and recreational opportunities, and goods and services. (Adapted from the Province of Ontario, Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006) Just as with designing for moving vehicles, designing for people requires close attention to how people move and use spaces and the specific dimensions of people using these facilities: for example people walking side-by-side, or parents pushing a stroller, or persons traveling in wheelchairs. Streets can be designed to move cars efficiently without sacrificing the ability of people to walk or bike along them; it just means different choices be made when designing and building

Disconnected roads make communities automobile dependent; well designed pedestrian connections and crossings with refuge islands, located near transit stops improve walkability.
Images: Google, Robert Voigt

streets. Also the specific characteristics of streets are different and should be included in their designs, for example: intended use, setting, traffic volumes, and intended speeds. In the Congress for New Urbanism’s 2012, Sustainable Street Network Principles, they define the following as a principle for road design: All people should be able to travel within their community in a safe, dignified and efficient manner. A sustainable street network makes that possible and ensures a choice of transportation modes and routes. People can walk, bicycle, take transit, or use a vehicle. Each mode is integrated, as appropriate, within each street. (Congress for New Urbanism, Sustainable Street Network Principles, 2012) In its introduction the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach (2010) states that it: provides guidance for the design of walkable urban thoroughfares in places that currently support the mode of walking and in places where the community desires to provide a more walkable thoroughfare, and the context to support them in the future. (Institute of Transportation Engineers, Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach, 2010)

should be paid to their presence in rural as well as urban areas... Because of the demands of vehicular traffic in congested urban areas, it is often very difficult to make adequate provisions for pedestrians. Yet provisions should be made, because pedestrians are the lifeblood of our urban areas, especially in the downtown and other retail areas. In general the most successful shopping sections are those that provide the most comfort and pleasure for pedestrians. (American Association of State
Highway and Transportation Officials, Policy On Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, 2001)

The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation’s describes the benefits of complete street design strategies: The implementation of Complete Streets results not only in improved conditions for cyclists, pedestrians, seniors, and children but also supports vibrant, healthy communities. Evidence shows that Complete Streets: • • • • • Provide better and more transportation options Improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians Reduce traffic congestion Reduce greenhouse gas emissions Create more walkable, therefore, livable communities

• Stimulate economic growth with increased shopping activity, sales, and property values. (Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, Complete Streets by Design, 2012)

Land use and transportation policy can either contribute to or detract from community building. When thoughtfully integrated, land use and transportation planning can jointly preserve and even enhance natural and cultural resources and create better built environments that are walkable, livable and sustainable. There are four key steps for successful implementation: 1) Restructure procedures to accommodate all users on every project; 2) Develop new design policies and guides; 3) O f f e r w o rk s h o p s a n d o t h e r t r a i n i n g opportunities to planners and engineers; and 4) Institute better ways to measure performance and collect data on how well the streets are serving all users. These implementation steps should be guided by elements of a comprehensive Complete Streets Policy, such as the National Complete Streets Coalition has identified:

Policy
A Complete Streets policy ensures choices to the community by making walking, bicycling and taking public transportation convenient, easy and safe. Changing policy so that transportation systems consider the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users means that people of all ages and abilities are included in the planning and design processes. The basic complete streets design approach addresses the following : • Safe: • for people first • real and perceived • Reliable: • well designed

Raised sidewalks, or at grade striped walkways protected by planter beds both make parking lots safer for pedestrians. This is especially important for slower moving pedestrians such as: parents with children or strolers; seniors; and, persons with mobility imitations.
Images: Robert Voigt

• appropriate infrastructure for all transportation modes • integrated modes of transportation Effective: • for all transportation modes • for needs of citizens and businesses • interconnected • efficient Human-centred: • addresses peoples’ needs • age appropriate transportation options • easily understood • aesthetically designed Context Sensitive: • land use supportive • land value enhancing • target speed appropriate Accessible: • diversity of transportation modes facilitated • affordable • “8/80” accessibility

1)Includes a vision for how and why the community wants to complete its streets 2) Specifies that ‘all users’ includes pedestrians, bicyclists and transit passengers of all ages and abilities, as well as trucks, buses, emergency vehicles, and automobiles. 3) Encourages street connectivity and aims to create a comprehensive, integrated, connected network for all modes. 4) Is understood by all agencies to cover all roads. 5) Applies to both new and retrofit projects, including design, planning, maintenance, and operations, for the entire right of way. 6) Makes any exceptions specific and sets a clear procedure that requires high‐level approval of exceptions. 7) Directs the use of the latest and best design criteria and guidelines while recognizing the need for flexibility in balancing user needs. 8) Directs that Complete Streets solutions will complement the context of the community. 9) Establishes performance standards with measurable outcomes.

B) Share the Road
Not all streets can be redeveloped or retrofitted to provide cycling lanes or other improvements for active transportation or developed as complete streets. Sometimes this is the result of the characteristics of the roads in question, the amount of roadways in a town, the short and long-term costs of improvements, or any combination of these. However, one effective way to improve the safety and appeal of particular routes for cycling along some roads is to install “share the road” signage. The Transportation Association of Canada describes when the share the road sign is used: to warn motorists that they are to provide adequate driving space for cyclists and other vehicles on the road. The sign also advices motorists and cyclists to use extra caution on the upcoming section of road. (Transportation Association of Canada, Bikeway Traffic Control Guidelines for Canada, February 2012) This kind of can be used to improve safety for cyclists traveling along “outlying” roads that are being used by people traveling to neighbouring areas or communities. This can also be used to complete links to key locations as determined by the community.

3. Placemaking
Creating interesting, safe, wondrous, and engaging places for people is important to making a community active transportation friendly. Without places that are attractive, interesting and supportive of many different peoples’ needs, your community’s active transportation network (walkways, trails, bike routes, et cetera) acts more as a recreational amenity, than as an integral part of people’s daily lives. Part of this is placemaking. On April 15, 2011 the Governing Council of UN-Habitat adopted the first-ever public space resolution. It urged the development of a policy approach for Placemaking; for fostering social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits for the overall livability of communities. Placemaking is the human-centred design of public spaces that directly involves the people that will use the site. Over the past decade the specific value of active transportation or walkability and placemaking to community livability; economic and business resiliency and success; real estate development; and, community health has become increasingly understood.

Places for people to enjoy the outdoors that are appealing, well designed, and attract people of all ages are vital to the overall health of a community’s citizens. They are good for businesses, as well as peoples’ physical and mental health.

Images: Robert Voigt

Throughout the process at a minimum, the documents below should be referenced for the planning & design of streets to be more cycling friendly: • Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Book 18: Bicycle Design Guidelines (to be released 2013); • Transportation Association of Canada (TAC), Bikeway Traffic Control Guidelines for Canada, 2012; • American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Guide to the Development of Bicycle Facilities, 2012; • National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), Los Angeles County, Model Design Manual for Living Streets, 2011; • AASHTO, Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities, 2004; • National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy, Urban Traffic Calming and Health: A Literature Review, 2011; • Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, Bicycle Facility Selection, A Comparison of Approaches, 2002.

The Northern Michigan Community Placemaking Guidebook is a good resources for beginning to learn about how to take action on placemaking at the community level. Developing natural playgrounds in community parks are an excellent place to start, as discussed during the walkabout,

4. Site design and End of trip facilities
The design of individual buildings and development sites is also important to pedestrians and cyclists. Key features include secure and convenient bicycle parking at major destinations and multiple-unit dwellings, showers and change rooms at workplaces, canopied and at-grade store entrances, parking lots behind or beside buildings rather than next to the street, and pathways that link building entrance to nearby sidewalks and trails. (Transport Canada, Improving Travel Options in Small & Rural Communities, 2009)

Developments should be required to be street-oriented and pedestrian in scale through zoning and design standards. Examples of adopted policies and suggested guidance in these areas comes from:

aesthetically appealing through low cost measures such as repainting and introduction of planters, trees, signage, and low level lighting.

• • • • • • • •

Provincial Policy Statement Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Ontario Professional Planners Institute Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Ministry of Transportation (MTO) American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)

Park Once and Walk
There needs to be a coordinated program implemented for parking management in downtown, and throughout the community in activity hubs, that address the “perceived” or practical 90% capacity for off-street parking and support growth, such as: progressive pricing structures; zoned space allocation; refinements to zoning and ITE based estimates for your local context. The 2004 Edition of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Parking Generation Report (commonly used to determine parking generation rates) clearly states characteristics of its data that skew its applicability for your parking context, making this kind of updated approach necessary: Most of the data currently available are from suburban sites with isolated single land uses with free parking. The information provided in these reports is also admitted by the ITE to not yet address factors such as type or area,

Two particular aspects of developments that are not often dealt with when developing active transportation plans are parking requirements and “park once and walk” strategies. The following briefly addresses these. Both should be seriously considered as the community moves forward in developing projects and programs that will help it evolve into a more active transportation friendly town.

Well designed pedestrian connections and safe routes to cross streets are easily achieved at the time of development; they are also relatively easy to retrofit on existing sites for minimal costs. Pedestrian refuge islands significantly improve safety for crossings.
Images: Robert Voigt

Parking Requirements
By the very nature of their single-use focused design, parking lots have a number of characteristics that have negative impacts on surrounding land uses; pedestrian movement and safety; safety of vehicle movements and, streetscapes. Uncontrolled vehicle movements limited only by painted markings make parking lots generally unsafe for pedestrians and fellow drivers alike. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) report, A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, 2001 specifically identifies the need to design regard to pedestrian needs: in general, the most successful shopping sections are those that provide the most comfort and pleasure for pedestrians. The open gaps in the streetscape created by a lack of streetwall elements, and general unsightliness of parking lots negatively impact neighbouring uses compared to well designed infill development or civic spaces. Consider local initiatives to implement changes to the existing public parking lots to make them safer and more

parking pricing, transit availability, multi-stop trips, land use mix, and pedestrian friendly design; all of which are downtown characteristics. In reference to the parking generation rates of the ITE Report, the Transportation Planning Handbook states: thus, they need downward adjustments where these conditions do not apply, especially in CBDs. This will allow the Town to more fully understand the need/ use of parking in the downtown; access to modes of transportation; and how they work together. This will facilitate implementation of key contemporary best practices. “Park once and walk” strategies intend to make vehicle parking safe and convenient, while pairing it with a highly walkable environment that makes it comfortable, convenient and enjoyable for users to be pedestrians for longer periods of time; as opposed to repeatedly moving and re-parking their vehicles within the same district. The sooner people are out of their cars, the sooner they are pedestrians and reducing the amount of car traffic flowing throughout the downtown district, benefiting vehicle traffic, pedestrian traffic and commercial establishments. To achieve this, the following improvements can be made to parking lots:

• Pavement marking to define pedestrian ways that are safe, convenient, and link to the fine-grained network of sidewalks and mid-block pedestrian routes; • Wayfinding signage to indicate pedestrian routes ; • Trees and/or landscaped islands in areas that create a safer, more comfortable walking environment while not impacting the effectiveness of the parking lot for vehicle parking, within the overall “park-once” strategy. All trips involve active transportation links and improving non-motorized (transportation) can improve motor vehicle access. Parking lots, transport terminals, airports, and commercial centers are all pedestrian environments. (Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Whose Roads? Evaluating Bicyclists’ and Pedestrians’ Right to Use Public Roadways, May 31, 2012) The amendments and design of the parking lots should follow this general design hierarchy: 1) First consideration is for pedestrians; 2) Access point(s);

• • • • • •

Wayfinding signage Walkway connections Seating at bus stops Short and long-term bike parking facilities Access to bike tire pumps Access to change rooms, lockers (and in some instances showers)

5. Engagement and Information
As with all meaningful work done to create livable communities supporting high quality of life, citizens need to be informed and engaged in the process when creating/ changing a community to be active transportation friendly. Their ideas, questions, and needs have to be made known and understood so that they can influence design, building, and maintenance decisions. The Ontario Professional Planners Institute describes how this information/education plays an important role in active transportation. They state that travel behaviour is

Recreational trails can also be used to provi de li nk a g es for ac ti v e transportation. Signage and other features used for wayfinding should however be designed to be easily visible, legible, and esthetically fitting within the surrounding area.
Images: Robert Voigt

3) Sight distances; and 4) Vehicles Contemporary knowledge about parking generation rates, needs, management mechanisms, and impact on the success of downtowns continues to be refined. Therefore, we suggest developing a community generated parking analysis of the downtown. This should be used to develop an actionable parking strategy for downtown to support businesses, active transportation, and effective parking.

influenced by a mix of factors (infrastructure, promotion, education) which are all integral to increasing the number of people using active transportation. They also specifically identify that it is important to not only build new active transportation facilities , but also to promote them and offer information on safe cycling. (Ontario Professional Planners Institute, Healthy Communities and Planning for Active Transportation: A Call to Action, 2012) The entire community needs to have a sense of the role active transportation plays, as well as a sensibility of the way decisions impact the possibilities of active transportation. To achieve this, there needs to be easily available and understandable information about active transportation. This can be in the form of directional and wayfinding signage, bike/walk to school events, safety training for cyclists and drivers, online resources, or the use of traffic signage such as “share the road” signs on specific routes. The Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) identifies eleven principles to guide practitioners and their communities in responding to the challenges of making progress toward greater active transportation. (Transportation

End of Trip Facilities
This is one of the most often misunderstood elements in communities that are not active transportation friendly. End of trip facilities are those things that help make a person’s trip convenient and practical. Providing many of these can be part of short-term or 100 day projects, as they are usually low-cost, high-impact and scaleable. This relates to both pedestrian and bicyclist’s needs, and includes things such as:

Association of Canada, Active Transportation: Making it Work in Canadian Communities, March 2012):

Principle 1 - Leadership Principle 2 - Partnerships Principle 3 - Public involvement Principle 4 - Financial and human resources Principle 5 - Knowledge and skills Principle 6 - Policy and planning Principle 7 - Travel facilities Principle 8 - Road safety Principle 9 - Crime and personal security Principle 10 - Affecting a culture: attitudes and perceptions • Principle 11 - Outreach to encourage active choices • • • • • • • • • • To advance active transportation in Bracebridge to the point where it is effectively serving the community it will have to be integrated into the community’s other long-term planning considerations, and in one form or another address these principles. These should all be conducted with meaningful citizen engagement.

Social media strategies can work hand-in-hand with innovative community meeting events to gather citizens together to work on making Bracebridge more walkable.

Images: Robert Voigt

Make it Happen!
Active transportation, is part of a healthy and sustainable transportation system that can encourage people to become more healthy. Although active transportation in small and rural communities is more often used for recreational purposes, it can also be used in conjunction with other transportation modes for getting around the community and commuting. For very good reasons, many small and rural communities are “car-first” places where the habits and attitudes of the most influential citizens tend to be automobile-focused. This means that efforts to improve travel options in small and rural communities must first overcome a culture of decision-making that favours cars and people that have access to them, while it disadvantages residents who cannot use cars, such as children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Fortunately, these same communities benefit from a string culture of neighbourliness that is an important resources for volunteer-based programs that can improve travel options for those who need it. (Transport Canada, Improving Travel Options in Small & Rural Communities, 2009) However, while there are characteristic challenges that rural and small communities face when shifting toward active transportation and walkability initiatives and planning, they also have characteristics that benefit this kind of change: By bringing together different sectors (such as education, health, recreation, social services and tourism), smaller communities can also shift focus from their individual responsibilities to a more collective view of how best to meet the travel needs of individuals. ...small communities have the inherent benefit of flexibility. Their municipal administrations have fewer layers of management, streamlined processes and more direct access to senior decision-makers, making it easier to get new directions approved. It is also more likely that one person with a good idea can be an effective champion, building the attention and support they need to move forward with it. (Transport Canada, Improving Travel Options in Small & Rural Communities, 2009) Before concluding the work of the day, Dan Burden gave the group some critically important advice, gathered from decades of experience and from working with over 3500 communities. He advised, that there is no single solution to the road widening, intersection widening, and land use/land form problems that have been emerging in the last 40 years and are reflected in the current developments and long-range planning. More than a hundred challenges exist. Through well executed community focused projects and effective community engagement process, appropriate investments and plans can and will be made to make Bracebridge more walkable and livable.

“The time to begin? Why now, of course!”

Walkways, trails, sidewalks, well designed public spaces, community gardens, places to connect with nature, places to play, interesting retail areas, bike facilities, safe streets, and convenient connections to where people live/work/learn/pray/play are all part of livable communities.
Images: Robert Voigt

Robert Voigt MCIP, RPP Planning Engagement Design Springwater, Ontario 705-220-1648 rob@robvoigt.com