I was fortunate to be able to attend both the Complete Streets Forum hosted by the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) and the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, Ontario Bike Summit earlier this year.
It was inspirational, with success stories from cities that had improved their quality of life by encouraging transit and active transportation.
- Many people would like to take up cycling but need to be convinced that it can be made safe.
- The low level of physical activity of many people is costing billions each year in health care.
- People like to live in neighbourhoods with good transportation choices, even if it means living in a smaller home. Businesses like to locate in such areas. Good transportation is good for the economy.
- 'War on Cars' is effective and necessary for making cities livable. Vancouver dealt successfully with Olympic congestion by encouraging walking, cycling, and transit, and discouraging car use.
- Political will is needed to encourage forms of transportation other than cars. City administrations need to be open with the public about what is being planned and emphatic about the benefits to the public.
- Cities that have been most successful at promoting active transport and transit generally have a single agency covering all forms of transportation which speeds up decision-making. (i.e., Vancouver, San Francisco, Chicago)
- Cars cause congestion because they reduce the capacity of roads to carry people. Expansion of roads to accommodate more cars is futile. Vancouver has not increased its capacity for cars since 1997. This is called 'Demand Management'.
- Small businesses underestimate the potential of cyclists for bringing in business. They need to be made aware of cyclists.
- Many children are being driven to school, even short distances, because parents think it is unsafe to let them ride bikes to school. The reason? All the cars outside the school. Some schools do not have bike racks. Increasing the number of kids who ride bikes to school will depend on convincing parents it can be made safe.