This Northern Canadian City is Investing $100 million into Cycling Infrastructure

People opposed to efficient transportation systems argue that cycling infrastructure doesn’t work in the winter, and anybody not suffering from car brain knows that people can ride bikes in cold weather. The city of Edmonton, located in the northern half of Alberta, has launched a great new initiative to promote cycling to the tune of $100 million. This builds off of years of progress in making Edmonton’s urban planning focus on people instead of cars. This is excellent to see and if Edmonton can do this than any city with winter can also do it. Local businesses and communities are already noticing the benefits of active urban design.

“I think people seem to lose sense of proportion,” Babin told CityNews. “We seem to have very little debate when we spend $200 million or $300 million, or even a billion dollars on a road project. But we seem to get up in arms over any kind of investment in cycling. But really, it’s a fraction of the budget. It’s really a drop in the bucket when you look at the bigger picture of transportation in Edmonton, especially when you spread it over a number of years.

“Cities have done it and even cities in Canada, we look at Montreal that’s had a consistent investment in good cycling infrastructure for more than 20 years now. It makes a huge difference and it makes people’s lives better, safer and healthier.”

Raitz was hardly surprised by the financial figures shared by Salvador, saying bike infrastructure cost is “minimal… in the grand scheme of things.”

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Thanks to Mike!

Bike Riding is Not Just a Phase

Every cyclists knows that riding a bike equals freedom, you can go where you want when you want and don’t need trillions of dollars of infrastructure to operate one. Electric bicycles are getting more affordable every year and more and more people are buying them instead of getting a car. Interest in car driving continues to decrease while interest in biking increases. Now cities need to change their car dominated approach to embrace a faster, safer, form of transportation.

As much of the media is still trying to understand the phenomenon of this massive growth in e-bike use, cities are already grappling with just how to handle it. Not only are cities around the US seeing their own rise in e-bike usage, but several are helping to support the shift away from cars by providing incentives for purchasing electric bikes.

Even without incentives though, e-bikes are surprisingly affordable. Like anything, you’ll find fancier expensive options. But a good e-bike can be bought for under $1,000. When you compare that to the cheapest $40,000 Tesla, you can see why young people are moving to e-bikes in droves.

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Time to Move Away from Suburbia

the suburbs
Generic car focussed housing development.

The future is 15 minutes away and it’s high time we get there. With the climate crisis in full swing we need to rethink unsustainable lifestyles and restructure unsustainable urban design into sustainable living. The concept of the 15 minutes city has gained popularity and captures the core idea of what we need to do. Even if we don’t build 15 minute cities it is abundantly clear that we need to move away from low density high energy suburban development. In the car-dominated USA they are looking into ways to increase livability of communities by decreasing car dependency.

Some proponents of new urban developments imagine a future where cars are obsolete. It is just as feasible, however, to implement city designs that allow for vehicle use without becoming dependent on it. In Utah, plans for a new 15-minute-city include 40,000 parking spots, all inside or underground, out of view from pedestrians. This leaves space available for wider paths, outdoor dining, and greenways that enhance community. Without having to make space for cars, all city amenities are within close proximity and enjoyable to walk between.

Federal legislation is also contributing to a growing acceptance of alternatives to car-centric transportation systems. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee highway bill increases pedestrian safety provisions and increases funding to bike sharing and mass transit. Unfortunately, it falls short of addressing the heart of the issue (cars). In fact, it grants $220 billion to highway development programs. It also fails to include any provisions for metro system carbon emission targets.

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Hydrogen Train Takes to the Rails in Quebec

In an effort to show North Americans that train travel can be both good for the environment and getting around Alstom has sent a train to Quebec. The train company has been making a hydrogen powered train to replace diesel engines on routes that don’t support electric operations. Hydrogen isn’t as efficient as electric engines but it provides a good transitional solution in areas that currently only use diesel. Every step we take away from oil makes the world a little better.

According to Serge Harnois, CEO of Harnois Énergies, which supplies the fuel for the train, it uses up about 50 kilograms of hydrogen a day, replacing about 500 litres of diesel that would be burned during the same journey. A diesel-powered truck carries the hydrogen to the train station for refuelling, which results in some carbon footprint, but according to Harnois, hydrogen would likely be produced on-site “one day.”

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Thanks to Trevor.

Speed Cameras = Safer Streets

small car
I live in a city where the police stopped enforcing traffic laws, so we’ve seen increased harm done by car drivers on people outside of cars. When the laws of the road aren’t enforced then drivers will break them – and more! So to make our streets safer politicians have turned to cameras.

Speed cameras automatically take a photo of a speeding car’s licence plate and send a fine to the owner. It’s a good simple system which generates revenue for cities while also encouraging drivers to not break the law and endanger their fellow citizens.

A systematic review published by the Cochrane Library in 2010 analyzed 35 separate studies from around the world and found average speeds in the vicinity of ASE cameras dropped by up to 15 per cent.

In some places, the proportion of motorists exceeding the posted speed limit declined by as much as 70 per cent, although most jurisdictions reported a reduction in the 10 to 35 per cent range.

The review also found a general reduction in collisions near speed cameras, with most jurisdictions reporting a drop of 14 to 25 per cent. There was a corresponding reduction in injuries and deaths.

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