The North Okanagan Coalition for Active Transportation (NOCAT) together with Sun Country Cycle and the Okanagan Regional Library in Vernon present, the “Ride Thru Winter Workshop” on Saturday December 3, 2016 between 10 AM until Noon at the Vernon Library; admission is free.
The Ride Thru Winter Workshop will feature presentations to encourage and educate participants on all aspects of winter bicycling. Laura Medcalf, NCCP Coach and TREK Women’s Cycling Advocate, will make two presentations: Winter fitness for Bicyclists, and Visibility; clothing and equipment to improve visibility. John Szeliga, mechanic at Sun Country Cycle, will discuss winter bike maintenance, types of equipment and winter apparel. Bruce Mol, NOCAT member and CAN-BIKE cycling instructor, will discuss winter cycling route selection. Following the presentations there will be an open forum for participants to ask questions. The workshop concludes with draw prizes courtesy of Vernon businesses.
The goal of the North Okanagan Coalition for Active Transportation’s is to see more people walking and riding bicycles more often by encouraging citizens to support infrastructure development that will enhance safe and active transportation and connect to the upcoming Okanagan Rail Trail.
Aphorisms; the bane of my existence! Trying to describe my disappointment with some of the bicycling infrastructure in the North Okanagan, I am challenged with aphorisms such as, ‘Something is better than nothing’ and ‘be thankful for what you have.’ What I really want to say about walking and bicycling infrastructure is, ‘Don’t hang onto that mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.’
When I first saw the object on 43rd Ave, and the remedial action of painting it yellow, I made a video denouncing the facility and showing an excellent solution across the street on the North side of the intersection. Since that video the NOCAT mail box has received some excellent comments such as, ‘How will that be cleaned with a street sweeper and snow plough?’ Another mentioned a point I had completely missed, the hazard sign indicates road users should go to the left and, obviously, most cyclists will go to the right, except if the road has debris, or snow or pedestrians. Apologies in advance to motorists who think bicyclists are unpredictable. BTW, motorists won’t be able to see debris.
(continued after image comparing the north side to the south side of the intersection)
Since that video even more ‘remedial’ action has been taken to clarify (?) the route for bicyclists. Once again, with the aid of yellow paint, a route around the object on the right is clearly outlined. I guess we’ll deal with debris and snow when the need arises.
So as an Advocate should I be happy to have ‘something?’ Is anything better than nothing? Is this object and subsequent treatments of yellow paint better than nothing? This is the 3rd instance in Vernon that I know of, where the hazard sign indicates left and where the cyclist route is on the right. Is this a new thing in traffic sign demarcation? Aphorisms where are you in my hour of need?
Jane, a new NOCAT member, responded to our open invitation to send an image of a challenging walking or bicycling facility so that we may create a list of troubling areas and forward them to whoever plans that area, Coldstream, Vernon, RDNO, and ask they be fixed.
Today's highlighted facility came about a few years ago when Alexis Park Drive was widened, but it couldn't be widened all the way to 30th Ave so...well, the result was that the new (at the time) bike lane didn't connect with the 30th Ave bike lane. You might think the complaint is that there isn't enough warning - that's not the problem. The problem is that there is enough room for the bike lane down at the 30 Ave end if motorists queue up... see Suggestion 2 below. Apologies to Marshall Mcluhan, in this case, 'the facility is the message.'
I just returned from three weeks of walking and bicycling in Europe and though I could write volumes about the experience, I’ll restrict myself to ‘things we should keep in mind’ while we develop our own on and off road facilities in the North Okanagan.
Due to rain, the four days we had in Switzerland were spent either walking around Glarus or taking the train to areas such as Rapperswil a medieval town and part of the Santiago de Compostela route, ‘Jacobs Way.’ I think the most important take home message is to make wayfinding easy. Throughout our travels we came to depend on the quantity and clarity of the pedestrian signage. The yellow directional Wander Weg signs in Switzerland include the name and walking time to the next few destinations. It wasn’t unusual to see destination 2, 4 or 10 hours away on foot. On the bike route signs you had to note if the front wheel was raised, this indicates a mountain bike route, the regular icon we use was for on road facilities, of which there are plenty. Throughout our travels we didn’t see any signs forbidding sidewalk bicycling; using bike bells, cycling slower around people is the norm. Last thing about Switzerland; multi-lingual train ticket kiosks are great. That was one thing that took the anxiety out of traveling within, and out of, the country. So off we went via the high-speed train to Provence.
We made our way to Avignon where, having booked through Discover France, we were set up with hybrid bikes, a GPS that had routes loaded in it, printed route sheet descriptions of places to go, and they arranged a great little hotel within the city walls. Walking was the best option in and around the narrow streets in Avignon, but we cycled within the city walls too without problem. Outside of the city walls, the streets and bridge that led to the part of town on the other side of the river, good signage and dedicated, separated bicycle facilities made travel easy. The city of Nimes seemed more cycle friendly than Arles but both were, like Avignon, walled cities, with lots to see on foot. In Arles we got our fix of Vincent van Gogh history and stood at the site that inspired his ‘Starry Night’ painting. Nimes has the best preserved Roman Coliseum in the world. From Nimes it’s easy to get to Barcelona on the fast train so next we went to Spain.
Arriving in Barcelona we immediately took a train to Ripoll where UTRACKS arranged for us to pick up hybrid bikes and guide sheets. Over the next week while UTRACKS moved our luggage, we travelled on mostly rail trail, the bicicarril, or connected Bikeways from Ripoll to Olot, where we spent an additional day to ride through the volcano national park, then to Girona which was the best rail trail day experience ever. In previous days we have been ascending and this was our descent day on packed track with beautiful scenery and quaint little rail towns. One aspect worth noting about this leg of the journey was that the rail trail was particularly disjointed but brought together through quite an effort of painted bike route lines, coloured icons on the paved surfaces assured us we were on the right route and, of course, frequent sign posts. It appears to me they made every effort to keep cyclists on track. We spent an additional day in Girona so we could take the train to Figueres to see the Dali museum. The trip from Girona to the Mediterranean town of Sant Feliu was rail trail again. Here we left our bikes, boarded a bus and returned to Barcelona, this time to stay five days.
Barcelona is a very walkable city; it was safe in the evenings and in the underground metro stations. The buses are easy to use and the people on the bus are so willing to help you find the right stop. As well, Barcelona, like every city mentioned so far, has a fleet of bicycles available to people in possession of the rental card. Insert your card, take a bike, return bike to a depot – it’s that easy. The difference with Barcelona is that it is a city of over 1.5 million and with rental bikes to meet that population. We were staying about 1 hour walk uphill from the old town. Many the residents in our area of town obviously got up and rode a bike downtown, but probably took the underground rail, called the Metro, or the bus home. A number of times I saw a City of Barcelona truck and flat deck trailer transporting the bikes back uphill.
For me, the 'Take Home Message" was the importance of way finding signs, the more the better. The multi-lingual signs, maps, and tourist info were also fantastic. Another thing was obvious to me too; cities that want to attract people to live there and vacation there, make all sidewalks broad, provide bicycling options in the way of facilities and bicycle rentals, and make transit such as buses and trains easy to use.
Writing about Active Transportation is made far easier when you have access to information and research you can trust. One of those places is the Victoria Transport Policy Institute (VTPI) headed up by Todd Litman. The VTPI has regular newsletters but you have to sign up for them. We wanted to give you a sample from the last newsletter and encourage you to vtpi.org and sign up for them.
VTPI NEWS Summer 2016 Vol. 16, No. 2
Victoria Transport Policy Institute
"Efficiency - Equity - Clarity"
The Victoria Transport Policy Institute is an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transportation problems. The VTPI website (http://www.vtpi.org ) has many resources addressing a wide range of transport planning and policy issues. VTPI also provides consulting services.
"Urban Sanity: Understanding Urban Mental Health Impacts and How to Create Saner, Happier Cities" (http://www.vtpi.org/urban-sanity.pdf ) This report examines how urban living affects residents' mental health and happiness, and ways to use this information to create saner and happier cities. Some often-cited studies suggest that urban living increases mental illness and unhappiness, but a critical review indicates that much of this research is incomplete and biased, and the issues are complex, involving trade-offs between risk factors. This report examines specific mechanisms by which urban living can affect mental health and happiness, and identities practical strategies that communities and individuals can use to increase their urban mental health and happiness. This analysis suggests that it is possible to create sane and happy cities.
USEFUL RESOURCES (NOTE: We've included only the first 5 from this section)
"World Cities Report 2016" (http://wcr.unhabitat.org ). This United Nations HABITAT program report indicates that the current urbanization model is in many ways unsustainable; new approaches are needed to better respond to challenges such as inequality, climate change, insecurity, and inefficient urban expansion.
"America’s Walking Renaissance" (http://americawalks.org/americas-walking-renaissance ). This report by America Walks describes the many benefits of walking and how local organizations and governments in diverse communities have improved walking conditions and encouraged walking activity.
"Cities Alive: Towards a Walking World" (http://www.arup.com/walking ). This beautiful report by Arup, one of the world’s largest engineering firms, highlights the significant social, economic, environmental and political benefits of walking; lists 40 actions that cities can apply to improve walking conditions and encourage walking activity; and includes a catalogue of 80 international case studies to inspire action.
"Pursuing Equity in Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning" (http://bit.ly/2agJcha ). This new report examines the travel demands of traditionally underserved populations (low income, minority, older adults, people with disabilities, etc.), and how pedestrian and bicycle planning can better serve those groups.
"Portland’s Drop in Car Use Frees Up $138 Million in our Local Economy Every Year" (http://bit.ly/2cdckIH ). This Bike Portland report describes an important but often-overlooked benefit of more affordable transportation: more money circulating in the local economy. For more information see "The Mobility-Productivity Paradox" (http://www.vtpi.org/ITED_paradox.pdf )
The city of Vernon has produced an excellent map showing travel times by foot. I think it's pretty accurate and I'm hoping more people will try it out and decide for themselves. Meanwhile the City is also working to complete the 25th Street sidewalk project which has had some controversy but is moving along nicely. The New sidewalk stretches from 46th Ave on the North to where PV joins 25th.
Kerry is happiest when she's out of her car and on her bicycle. As a community physiotherapist, she'd love to see more people of all ages engaging in an active lifestyle by walking and bicycling to where they need to go!
Bruce keeps active by walking and running in the Vernon area. When not on foot you can often see him on bicycle, with his trailer, shopping locally or taking his recycling to the depot. Bruce has also been a CAN-BIKE bicycling skills instructor for over 20 years. See www.gonecycling.com