Cycling
March 21, 2019

Toronto Mayor’s New Plan to Reduce Road Carnage

The Mayor of the  City of Toronto  is now talking about  instituting 30 kilometer per hour speed limits in the city.  I have written about the road carnage that is happening in Toronto where 46 pedestrians and cyclists were killed on city streets in 2018. That number increased by ten percent from 2017. Imagine~almost four people a month dying walking or cycling in the City of Toronto. The quickest way to alleviate this carnage is to slow vehicular speeds and enforce them~being crashed into by a vehicle at 50 km/h a pedestrian has a 10 percent chance of survival. Survival odds increase to 90 percent if a pedestrian is crashed into at 30 km/h.

In Oliver Moore’s article in the National Post, fingers have been pointing at Toronto Mayor John Tory who has been very conservative about addressing this road carnage. The City also instituted Vision Zero, a road safety program that should be focused on eliminating all traffic related deaths and serious injuries according to its creed. But no, in the City of Toronto they decided to only try to achieve a percentage lowering of deaths, not the complete elimination of carnage, and received much bad press about that.

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There’s more evidence about the importance of creating walkable communities in a new study that was reported in The British Medical Journal. While cities strive to have goals such as bus stops within a ten minute walk of every residence, research undertaken by Dr. Bo Xi, at Shandong University’s School of Public Health illustrates that walking to the stop may actually be extending transit passengers’ lives.

Inverse.com writes that  researchers found that walking, dancing or even gardening for “10 minutes to an hour per week was associated with an 18-percent lower risk of death compared to people who did nothing.”

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One of the greatest things you can do is volunteer, and even better learn about your city while doing that. The City of Vancouver is now seeking volunteers for their Civic Advisory Committees for the following committees:

Arts and Culture Advisory Committee
Children, Youth and Families Advisory Committee
Civic Asset Naming Committee
LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee
Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee
Racial and Ethno-Cultural Equity Advisory Committee
Renters Advisory Committee
Seniors’ Advisory Committee
Transportation Advisory Committee
Urban Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Committee
Vancouver Food Policy Council
Women’s Advisory Committee
Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee
First Shaughnessy Advisory Design Panel
Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee

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Do you know who Seiichi Miyake is? With many thanks to City of North Vancouver councillor Tony Valente for passing this #Googledoodle along about Mr. Miyake and the incredible contribution he made for sight impaired people.

In 1965 Mr. Miyake who is an engineer developed “Tenji” or tactile blocks to warn vision impaired people where to stand when trying to board trains. His invention has been adopted globally and is part of the sidewalk and public realm in many countries. As well the Tenji blocks are known as “truncated domes”, “tactile warning surfaces”, “detectable warning tiles”  and “tactile pavement.” 

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The City of Vancouver Engineering Department’s  Viva Program is partnering with the Vancouver Public Space Network (VPSN ) on a new public space competition called “Life Between the Umbrellas: Public Space in a Rainy City”. 

In a city with five months of rain how do you modify road space and public spaces to encourage public life? How do you invite people to slow down, enjoy the space, and connect with other people?

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The Planning Institute of British Columbia South Coast Chapter  is offering an afternoon  workshop on Accessibility~Understanding the Why and Then the How.

We invite urban planners, policy makers, architects, builders, engineers, park planners and anyone else who can learn from meeting people with various and levels of abilities that face barriers in the built environment. Let us learn how to make the built environment easy and safe to navigate from a mother with a baby carriage, grandmother with bags of groceries, Andrea Bocelli and friends, to Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye

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Last year Tom Durning sent us this image of Jesus and Colonel Sanders having a conversation over a coffee in an undisclosed coffee bar.

As we stated at the time we did not know whether this was for a film or was just a regular meeting.

The weather must have warmed up, as Tom has now sent us this new image of this unlikely pair conversing while strolling  down the street. No word if urbanism and walkability were being discussed.

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In the Good News, Bad News department, Delta Optimist’s Sandor Gyarmati reports on the face-saving exercise being undertaken by Deltaport’s current container terminal operator Global Containers (GCT).  I have written about the Port of Vancouver’s  continued push for this terminal despite the fact that it is the resting grounds of hundreds of thousands of western sandpipers migrating to spring Arctic breeding grounds. These birds feed solely on an algae that is only available on the Roberts Bank mudflats. That algae cannot be moved or replaced, meaning that this important bird migration on the Pacific Flyway would be extinct with port expansion.

It was  Larry Pynn in The Province who pointed out that the written response from Environment and Climate Change Canada to the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency clearly outlined the catastrophic impact of a new terminal eradicating this sandpiper feeding area. Last year the Port of Vancouver said they wanted to work on these issues, but as a representative from B.C. Nature said “I’d say the … port has been holed below the water line. We clearly have an environment at Roberts Bank that is fragile, that cannot withstand any more port development, and, finally, Environment Canada has come out with a definitive statement that should stop this project in its tracks.”

But back to the Terminal operator’s and the Port of Vancouver’s spin on ditching the terminal expansion, and no it is not to save the migratory birds.

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For anyone that likes to explore cities and spaces on their own, Google Maps has developed an augmented reality mode  that makes it easy to ascertain what direction a pedestrian should be headed in~there is a large animated type of arrow to guide your direction.

You know those moments where there are no references to help you figure out which direction north is, and no way to determine exactly where you are. Using global localization which brings together Visual Positioning Services (VPS) and Street View, the smartphone camera becomes a “sensor” making wayfinding so much easier.

With a limited release in February for people who will augment the app with new locations and take photos, it is in the feedback stage. And here is the best part~the new feature is solely for walking directions, not for vehicular drivers.

In those pesky locations where GPS does not work because it is bouncing off buildings and cell towers, the Augmented Reality (AR) application uses the camera to suss surrounding buildings and street grids to pinpoint a walker’s location.

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There is a need to utilize public structures and infrastructure more effectively, and a need to create more great public space.

One area that has been greatly underused is the underside of bridges. At Price Tags, we wrote about the incredible performance of Netty Wild’s Uninterrupted under the Cambie Bridge near Cooper’s Park in the summer of 2017. That performance followed the artist’s study of the life-cycle of the salmon, had rave reviews, and was packed out all summer. It was a great use of the space below the bridge, and the use of the bridge’s surfaces in the performance added greatly to the spectacle’s impact.

Toronto has taken things a step further in the innovative public space work on “the Bentway”, a 1.75 kilometre long space underneath the Gardiner Expressway which is maintained by the Bentway Conservancy. With a unique group of public place planners and city builders the project is part of the High Line Network, which works to repurpose existing underused infrastructure into new public spaces.

As written up in Design Boom, “The Bentway offers year-round activities and events, including gardens, a skate trail, recreational amenities, public markets, public art, special exhibitions, festivals, theatre and musical performances, and more.”

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