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April 2009
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Transportation Planning Workshop

Friday I had the opportunity to attend a seminar put together by the OTC (Ontario Traffic Conference) on Transportation Planning. The day covered various southern Ontario initiatives from bicycle routes, to public transit, to planning for long-term projects. Here is a summary on the presentations I enjoyed:

Transit City: Planning for Light Rail in Toronto
By now many of us have seen the Transit City proposed map and typical street cross-section (I’ve included links here to both). None of the proposed routes are expected to be subway routes, they should all be LRT (light rail transit); there is a huge cost savings by using LRT’s over subways. From the presentation it seemed as though many of the routes were currently being put through the EA process.
What can commuters expect? Vehicles that will be up to 90m long, 3 to 6 minutes between vehicles during peak hours, likely no rate hike in the central zone (potentially a zone system like many European cities), and a loss of parallel local public transportation on these routes (i.e. no TTC buses making frequent stops).
What’s still missing? The key to the future is multi-modal transit, being able to park your car somewhere so it is convenient to use these routes. From what was said it seems as this will be the TTC’s biggest weakness. It is an absolute must to have parking lots at major stations.

Best Practices for the Delivery of Long-Term Projects in Small to Medium Sized Communities
This presentation was aimed at the suburbs of Toronto. The presenter challenged the city engineers present to think outside the box, to use accepted innovative techniques and to plan from the best perspective of the community; was the community stable and slow-growing or was it a high growth area subject to peaks. She commented on how necessary it was to use good data and to verify data often.
There are limitations with planning right now, namely: staff resources, data sharing and cooperation, appropriate tools and data, funding, political and community support and an overall transportation planning strategy with regular data collection. From Toronto to Mississauga to Pickering to Vaughn, ask anyone of those city planners and I’m sure the plans between them all vary greatly.

Twin City Cycling: Burlington’s Lessons Learned from Apeldoorn, NL
Creating a cycling network in the community should be a part of all city and regional transportation plans; to date it is usually an after thought. It is well known that cycling in Europe, more importantly in the Netherlands, is a part of the culture. Cyclists in the Netherlands don’t have to contend with road traffic and have designated one-way cycle tracks (better than a bike lane it has a buffer from the vehicular traffic).
When engineers plan a bike lane they think about planning, designing and construction. While the users think about directness, safety, comfort and attractiveness. To design bike lanes in Ontario we need to use engineering but to design for the user.
Canada vs. The Netherlands: Did you know that in the Netherlands if a motorist hits a cyclist or a pedestrian than the motorist is at fault? Instead of thinking injury prevention like we do in Canada, the Netherlands is thinking collision prevention. By making the motorist responsible there has been an overall increase in the level of duty of care.

Driving the Debate: The Challenges and Opportunities Facing Canada’s Transportation Network
Canada has over 900,000km of road network! And up to 38% of that might be substandard, a total of 22% of our bridges are likely substandard (according to a 1998 report by the council of Ministers – 1998!?! How much of that is substandard now!) More importantly the people driving those roads think they are unsafe, crowded and that there are too many trucks on the road.
How do we solve this? According to CAA Governments need to view roads as investments not as expenses, we need to work within the available funding commitments, commit to “shovel ready” projects, invest in all forms of transportation an forge strong working relationships amongst the provinces


Pingback from sasha on the street » Share the Road
Time April 28, 2009 at 12:56 pm

[…] heard of other horror stories of people being thrown from their bikes because of motorists. Like I wrote yesterday about the Netherlands collision prevention would happen if we made all motorists guilty […]