Kingston Coalition for Active Transportation’s response to “City should rethink building more bike lanes”, The Kingston Whig-Standard Opinion Column April 3, 2014 (http://www.thewhig.com/2014/04/03/city-should-rethink-building-more-bike-lanes)
Walking and cycling are integral to the Kingston Official Plan which cites the strategic direction of the Kingston Transportation Master Plan: “… to foster sustainability within the City and to reduce reliance on the automobile by satisfying travel demand through the efficient use of the existing infrastructure, and by providing the facilities and services to encourage walking, cycling and transit as priority modes, before expanding the City’s road infrastructure.”
Kingston would benefit from enhanced walking and cycling infrastructure throughout the city. More Complete Streets designed for all ages, abilities, and modes of travel would provide safer and more comfortable access for all road users including pedestrians and cyclists. As Mr. Roy points out, walking is a natural and healthy practice, and it is something that people can do throughout their lives. Both walking and cycling need to be encouraged, not discouraged. In addition to Complete Streets, pedestrian and cycling facilities need to support safe, connected, convenient, attractive, and efficient routes throughout the city. Transit is an integral part of active transportation as each trip begins and ends with walking or cycling.Like many cities, Kingston has a higher mode share of active transportation in the city centre compared with areas outside the city centre. Research on barriers and facilitators of walking, cycling, and transit use throughout the city and in the east and west ends has indicated that time, convenience, safety, cost, and cycling/walking/road facilities and conditions all influence travel choices.
Many authorities are calling for appropriate cycling infrastructure to support people in making choices to cycle, and to cycle more often, including the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario, Ontario Traffic Council, Ontario Medical Association, Ontario Professional Planners Institute, and Transport Canada.The majority of people are interested in cycling but concerned about safety. They need more space as traffic volumes and speeds increase, and roads transition from urban to rural settings. The majority of (would-be) cyclists also need connected networks of routes to be able to travel comfortably from their origins to their destinations.
Of the five “E’s” that contribute to bicycle-friendly communities (education, encouragement, enforcement, engineering, and evaluation), engineering (infrastructure) accounts for 70 percent (Kingston Bike Summit 2013). As indicated in Mr. Roy’s letter, more education is needed – for cyclists and motorists – about cycling, including cycling facilities. Motor vehicles and bicycles are vehicles according to the Highway Traffic Act: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling-guide/section5.0.shtml.
Kingston is conducive to cycling in many ways: it is relatively flat, distances are typically short (according to KEDCO, 45 percent of workers commute less than five kilometres to work), and the climate is conducive to cycling for most of the year. (Increasing numbers of people cycle year-round, not only in Kingston, but in places such as Yellowknife, Thunder Bay, Edmonton, Calgary, and Copenhagen).
Capital infrastructure projects vary considerably in cost. According to the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, $20 million could build 8 km of road widening from two lanes to four lanes, 5.3 km of a new two lane city road, 4 km of a new four lane city road, 1,000 km bike lane on an existing road, 260 km separated cycle tracks, and 182 km of sidewalks. In terms of parking, $20 million could provide a parking garage with 952 spaces, a surface parking lot with 4,000 spaces, covered bike parking for 13,333 spaces, and post and ring bicycle racks for 250,000 spaces.The Kingston Coalition for Active Transportation is supportive of the City’s work in facilitating equitable active transportation opportunities for residents throughout Kingston. Investments in active transportation are investments in health, quality of life, and economic and environmental sustainability.