GWWRTC, GCAT & GORBA Submit Public Comments on Identifying a Province-Wide Cycling Network

In April, the Ministry of Transportation released it’s strategy for a province-wide cycling network and called for stakeholders to comment. GWWRTC, GCAT, and GORBA collaborated to submit comments regarding the existing and proposed network routes in the region. The comments submitted to the Policy and Planning Division at the MTO, are listed below.

Here is the link to the MTO #CycleON Action Plan 1.0, and EBR with map and KML file embedded

May 26, 2017

Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation
Guelph Wellington Waterloo Regional Trail Committee
Guelph Off-Road Bicycling Association

Monica Russell
Senior Policy Analyst
Ministry of Transportation
Policy and Planning Division
Transportation Planning Branch
Environmental Policy Office (Toronto)
777 Bay Street Suite 3000
Toronto Ontario M7A 2J8

Subject:  Public Comment on Identifying a Province-Wide Cycling Network

These comments are being submitted jointly on behalf of several Guelph based organizations that are active stakeholders in the advocacy for, development and use of trails and cycling infrastructure within the Guelph community and surrounding region.

Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation (GCAT)

GCAT is an incorporated organization whose mission is to increase the quantity, quality and safety of active transportation options in Guelph. The organization has over 60 members and 500 supporters.

Guelph Wellington Waterloo Regional Trail Committee (GWWRTC)

Formed in August 2016, GWWRTC is a collaborative trails initiative in Wellington County and surrounding areas with aims to centralize regional trail resources, advocate for greater trail use, liaise between local government, trail users, and property owners, and support new trail infrastructure development.

Guelph Off-Road Bicycling Association (GORBA)

GORBA is the largest group in Guelph devoted to the needs of the off-road cyclist since 1992. By providing a group voice, we can preserve, maintain, and even increase the trail network in the Guelph area. As a group, we can participate in discussions with other trail user groups, and with organizations such as the Grand River Conservation Authority and the City of Guelph.

We would like to comment on the proposed province-wide cycling network, with a particular focus on the routes in the Guelph region.

To accompany this online submission (submitted through the environment registry/EBR), we have also sent an email to CycleONStrategy@ontario.ca with maps that correspond with our comments. The maps in the email are numbered and those map numbers are referred to in the comments below.

Guelph To Goderich Trail Connections (Refer to “Map1 – G2G”)

We have concerns/questions about routing from the city of Guelph boundary to the Guelph to Goderich (G2G) trail via the Edinburgh Rd. extension/hydro corridor.

  •     The current condition of the “trail” using the hydro corridor beginning at Edinburgh, and extending north of Woodlawn Road is not bicycle-friendly (very large rocks, not well marked). Are there plans to improve the condition/accessibility of this trail?
  •     This hydro corridor is under private ownership. It is our understanding that Ontario Hydro requires fences to be built around the base of each tower to keep trail users from climbing. has this issue been resolved with property owners and Ontario Hydro?
  •     County Road 30 is a busy highway without space for cycling. An alternative connection from the hydro corridor to the G2G trailhead is the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) “Marden Tract” trail that goes from the hydro corridor to the current G2G trailhead (this trail already allows bikes and is in good condition.)
  •     Currently, most cyclists utilize Silvercreek Pkwy. N/County Rd 39 to reach the G2G trailhead. This route does not accommodate cyclists. We recommend that wide paved shoulders along this road be added to improve safety.
  •     Regardless of the route chosen, we urge the province to work with all levels of government to implement a safe and direct connection to the G2G trailhead. This is a critical link in the regional cycling network.

Alternative Routes (Refer to “Map2 – Alternative Guelph”)

We would like to propose an alternative route using mostly established Guelph trails and lower traffic roads on two draft routes that travel south from downtown Guelph. We would propose to avoid routes on Gordon St. (and also Claire Rd. if possible), which are high-traffic streets with no physical separation from motorized traffic. Instead, Guelph’s established recreational trails (“Royal Recreation Trail”) and lower-traffic streets could be used.

  •     These alternative routes connect to the routes which connect Guelph to Hamilton/Greenbelt Route, and Guelph to Hespeler/Cambridge.
  •     A few connections in Guelph could be improved with minor trail improvements. We urge the province to provide the City of Guelph with funding opportunities which would prioritize the completion of the province-wide network.

Downtown Guelph to Guelph Lake Conservation Area (Refer to “Map3 – Guelph Lake”)

We recommend that the network provide a route to connect downtown Guelph via existing trails to Guelph Lake Conservation Area. Along with the conservation area providing the only campsites near the city, there are also opportunities for swimming, mountain biking, and hiking. The trails that lead to the conservation area are excellent for cycling.

Guelph to Hamilton Route (Refer to “Map4 – Hamilton”)

A more direct route that connects Guelph with Hamilton should be included in the network. We recommend using Watson Rd. and Centre Rd. This would not replace the proposed route in the draft network, but would provide a more direct alternative which does not prioritize the connection to the Greenbelt Route.

Hespeler to Cambridge Connection (Refer to “Map5 – Cambridge”)

We recommend an additional connection from Hespeler to Cambridge west of the Grand River. Existing trails are in place including the “Mill Run Trail” and “Riverside Park” trails, along with on-road use of Fountain St.

  •     This is a preferred connection to the trail that runs continuously from this region to Lake Erie. It is mostly off-road (therefore safer) and also more direct, while still passing through or very close to city centres.

Guelph to Kitchener Connection

We strongly urge the province to provide a safe, direct cycling route connecting Guelph to Kitchener. The province’s leadership is critical since there are so many jurisdictions involved (cities, county, township, etc.), and also due to their role in ongoing ON Highway 7 and rail transit projects that could be leveraged.

Additional Suggestions

  •     We urge the province to recommend that campgrounds enact “no-turn-away” policies to accommodate self-supported touring cyclists that arrive for a single night without prior reservations. For more information refer to Adventure Cycling.
  •     We urge the province to continue to grow their investment in cycling infrastructure, both on and off-road, to provide safe cycling routes for everyone.

We thank you for the opportunity to comment. If any clarification and additional feedback is required, please use the contact info listed below.

Sincerely,

Taylor Moran (taylor.moran@gmail.com) – GWWRTC
Yvette Tendick (info@gcat.ca) – GCAT
Don Casey (don.casey0@gmail.com) – GORBA

Beautiful day for Cycling the Bridges of Guelph

What a day we had! On May 27,  40 people came out to enjoy a nice cycle ride over the many bridges of Guelph. Hosted by Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation and 2Rivers festival, old and newly proposed bridges were highlighted. Older bridges included the Norwich Bridge, Heffernan Bridge, the Covered Bridge, and Gow’s Bridge.

Participants also learned of a couple of bridge proposals. The proposed bridge over Emma and Earl Street, as well as an underpass trail under the new Speedvale Bridge so that cyclists and pedestrians do not have to cross over the Speedvale Avenue.

The trip was concluded with a pint at the Royal City Brewery. After all, what is more fun than cycling, beer, and conversation?

Bridges and a Pint: Cycling the Bridges of Guelph Past, Present and Future

Bridges and a Pint: Cycling the Bridges of Guelph Past, Present and Future
WHEN
May 27, 2017 at 1pm – 3pm
STARTING LOCATION
Enabling Garden, Riverside Park
Guelph, Ontario

END LOCATION: Royal City Brewing Co., 199 Victoria Rd S, Guelph

2017 is a year of celebrations, and Guelph has its own events to celebrate: 120 years with the Gow Bridge and 25 years with the Covered Bridge. You’ll hear how these bridges came to be, and how these and other bridges impact how we connect with our two rivers and give us a sense of place. While cycling, let’s look at some future plans for getting around the city more actively via various proposed pedestrian and cycling bridge building projects. Finally, let’s enjoy a pint at Royal City Brewing while discussing ways to use bridges to make Guelph a healthier, more vibrant city.

This Event is hosted by 2Rivers Festival , Wellington Water Watchers and Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation

Start Location: Enabling Garden, Riverside Park

End location: Royal City Brewing Co., 199 Victoria Rd S

For more information, contact info@gcat.ca

 

Magnificent Magnolia Ride, Saturday May 6, 1pm

Come join The Guelph Hiking Club on Saturday May 6 for a free, casual bike ride to kick off Spring and enjoy the Magnificent Magnolia trees in blossom. Starting at 1pm, we will ride about 12km and visit several Magnolia trees and other spring blossoms in and around Downtown Guelph.  We will be riding mainly on quiet residential streets and trails. Make sure you pack your camera and get some beautiful shots!

This year, an artist will make a cameo appearance, painting under a magnolia tree. We will also have a poetry reading or two while enjoying some lemonade.

For added fun, we’re having a costume contest to brighten the day.  There will be prizes for: The Best Dressed Cyclist, The Most Outlandish Ensemble, and The Best Spring Bonnet, so get your best outfit ready!

The trip will begin at Speed River Bicycle at 135 Wyndham St. N. at 1pm and end at Arthur Street N., for a free garden party where refreshments will be served. Spaces are limited, so please RSVP at info@gcat.ca

Helmets are encouraged.


Prizes and refreshments courtesy of Speed River Bicycle, Wike, Goldie Sherman Pottery and Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation.

For more information, please contact activeguelph@gmail.com,  info@gcat.ca, or sgates14@hotmail.com

Volunteers needed to conduct cycling surveys in Guelph

Help make Guelph a better place for cyclists!

Volunteers are needed to help with a cycling research collaboration between the Traffic Research Industry Foundation, BikeMaps.org, the City of Guelph and Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation.

From April 22-May 5, surveys will be conducted at 5 locations around Guelph. The team is looking for volunteers to administer a brief survey to people riding bicycles through the 5 locations around Guelph.

Volunteers are required to attend a brief half hour training session at City Hall the week of April 10 to facilitate proper administration of the surveys.

If you would like to help gather data, please RSVP by    April 6 to Jennifer.Juste@guelph.ca. The training date will be set via doodle poll for all interested volunteers.

For more information on this survey, contact Jennifer.juste@guelph.ca

 

Building Emotional Resilience Through Outdoor Exercise

Building Emotional Resiliency Through Outdoor Exercise

Sunday March 26th 2017 at 7pm – 8:30pm
Red Papaya Bar and Grill – 55 Wyndham St N, Guelph, ON

Hosted by The Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation and Kelly Legge from Speed River Bicycle

Be inspired! As part of Transition Guelph and the Resilience festival, learn how exercising outdoors helps make you more resilient to daily emotional pressures. Share your own experience in how biking, running, hiking, walking, skiing, etc in the fresh air has elevated your mood.

Kelly Legge, from Speed River Bicycle along with Yvette Tendick from Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation will give brief examples of how outdoor exercise (biking, walking, running, etc) has improved their mood and their lives in general. Both women wish to encourage others to take advantage of infrastructure in the community to get out there, be active, and feel better about themselves. Community members who have already seen the benefits of healthy outdoor exercise in improving their quality of life are welcome to share their experiences.

Food and drink are available for purchase at Red Papaya.

Scott Butler of Ontario Good Roads wants Guelph to be More Friendly to Cyclists

Scott Butler, Ontario Good Roads Association, is working toward making streets better for all road users

scott butlerI ran into Scott Butler, Head of Public Policy of Government relations for Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA.) He manages of policy and research, which involves advocating for capital investment, fiscal reform and public policy that advances municipal infrastructure. I thought Scott had a unique perspective of what it is like to cycle in Guelph, and was interested in his thoughts on how to improve infrastructure for those who are interested in alternative forms of transportation.

I case you are curious, OGRA came about in the 1870 as  a social justice union of farmers and cyclists. Farmers had access to surplus harvest. They couldn’t get it to market and were looking for roads to be improved. Cyclists needed roads as well; they were advocating for hard surfaces.  These two groups were instrumental in getting the Ontario Good Roads Association  founded in 1894.

Today 432 out of 444 Ontario municipalities are members.

Why is riding a bike important to you?

On the most basic level it’s enjoyable. There is something carefree about it compared to others forms of transportation. It can be quick and leisurely at the same time. I grew up where there was no public transportation, no taxis, so biking was a form of freedom for me.

More broadly, however,  there is a social responsibility aspect. The most socially progressive cities are those that most warmly embrace and use active transportation. Show me the things that a community doesn’t make money on, such as libraries, parks and bike paths, and I’ll show how successful that city is.  How you choose to get around in the city and how the city accommodates different forms of transportation is a barometer of your city’s quality of life.

Where do you go on the bike?

Downtown. I also tend to lead a blossoming caudry of neighbourhood kids that are becoming bicycling vigilantees that ride in the bike lane and on city streets.

As a family, we bike downtown and to the farmers market. As long as it’s mildly temperate, we cycle wherever we go. It takes about as long as driving when going downtown, when taking parking into account.

When do you use the car?

To and from work and when shepherding kids to and from their activities.

What is the hardest thing about using the bike for transportation?

It’s the entitled jackasses in cars and on bikes. It’s that lack of mutual respect. Canadians are able to accommodate everything else but for a lot us when we are suddenly put in car or on a bike, it is like our brains are magically transported back to the tribalism of 19th century Europe.

Furthermore, there is a cultural norm that the typical cyclist is a “MAMIL” (middle aged men in lycra). That stereotype is predicated on gender. The idea that cyclists are male is a real problem. The idea that cyclists ride a $5000 bike, decked out in racing gear as if getting ready for next tile trial at the Tour de France is problematic, especially since most people are just looking to get to work or meeting friends for a beer.

This kind of image is a deterrent for getting more people on bikes. If we want to get more bums in saddles – and that should be a goal of our local governments – we have to make sure that the norm is going from A to B, doing ordinary activities like going shopping, while wearing regular clothes, and not needing a racing bike.

What do you say when people say that driving is safer than biking?

If you look at it from an actuarial point of view it is not more dangerous or safer than other forms of transportation. On its own cycling is about as safe as walking. A study from out of Denmark found that a typical Dane would have to bike for 2800 years before suffering a head injury.

Do you find yourself trying to convert non-cyclists or recreational cyclists to everyday cycling?

Yes. as a form of public policy.

When I started at OGRA, we scanned what sort of legislation we were going to get involved with. The first time there was a private member’s bill (to encourage building cycling infrastructure) seven years ago, I thought that we should comment on it and say that we will pursue it. The board of directors was surprised that I brought it forward. I kept giving reasons that it was a good idea. Seven years later, the board of directors now have that ex-smoker mindset, where they are the most ardent champions of what they once opposed.

The communities that would have been resistant years ago are now the ones that put the capital into trail networks, etc., and have recognized a benefit. Now the other communities are getting on board.

When we get to a point where someone becomes dogmatic about the need to maintain the status quo, we remind them streets are made to move people for one place to another, not one modality over the other.

Rob Ford made it into a left/right issue at the same time that Boris Johnson, right wing mayor of London, was putting in miles of bike lanes. Luckily the new mayor, Sadiq Khan is also investing in billions worth of cycling infrastructure.

It’s just a cultural shift. Look at Calgary and Edmonton. They have councils from the 21st century and effective leaders. They are doing what they should be doing for their constituents. You don’t think of them as being socially conscious but they are. They are aiming generational investments in public facilities (libraries, active transportation infrastructure) and making massive investments in transit.

Here in Guelph, it is just rhetoric.

What needs to happen in Canada to make the culture, and eventually the roads, more bike friendly?

Money. Lots of it.

You also need more people in roles of leadership in the bureaucratic as well as elected pushing to make investments widespread.

What is the best part of your commute?

Old University area as well as the University campus, including walkways and plazas. It’s enjoyable to ride there because there are no cars there.

What infrastructure change would make your commute better?

Better infrastructure at intersections can help. Putting in properly redesigned roadways, usually called Complete Streets.

Streets are designed to take into account vehicular traffic, active transportation, pedestrians, mother nature. Currently, we get 2 or 2 ½ of these requirements, but not all 4. If you have a row of trees it delineates where everyone belongs.

Take Gordon Street in the south end, for example. Narrow the lanes. The narrower the lane  the slower the people drive, and the safer it is. Move both of those lanes to one side of the street and segregate them. And can we do it so that it is not ugly?

Name the top 5 five things you think people get out of everyday cycling?

  • Physical fitness. We all know that we are supposed to be active during the day.
  • Convenience.  It’s easy to hop on and off a bike, not having to worry about parking.
  • Fun. Its evocative of being young and free.
  • The more people are out of cars the greater impact on Co2 emissions, as well as durability on lifestyle performance on the road. The bike has no wear and tear on roads so it is important to make those investments. They pay for themselves over time.
  • Congestion has become a real problem in our cities and bicycles can help reduce it.

What do you think you and your kids get out of riding as a family?

The much needed physical activity. Also, it helps instill a bit of independence that they can get around on their own.

How did you come to your current bike set-up? How does it work?

I ride an Evo Men’s High Life Crusier. It is black with 32 inch allow wheel. It is absolutely massive and looks like something you would see in Amsterdam. I got it new at Backpeddling. In fact, I bought the second one ever sold in Canada.

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What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?

Keep doing it! Keep alert. I would tell them to organize the way CAA is organized. We need a strong cohesive voice to move that forward. We should be far enough in civilization in the 21st century to take all modalities into account.

 

Come to GCAT’s first AGM and After Party!

agm 2Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation invites the public to celebrate GCAT’s incorporation at it first Annual General Meeting and After Party on Feb.16!

You will hear about the accomplishments and goals of GCAT to make Guelph one of the best places in Ontario for cycling and walking. Our guest speaker will be Jennifer Juste, Program Manager of Transportation Demand Management from the City of Guelph. She will address “The Present and Future of Cycling in Guelph.”

Location: Red Papaya Thai Grill, Quebec Street Mall

Time: 7-8pm for AGM*, and 8-10 for after party!

Come to one or both!

 

Free apps and great door prizes! Thank you Guelph Solar (see below) and other sponsors!

We are actively taking memberships online, at the Farmer’s Market on Feb. 11, as well as at the AGM. Membership costs are $10 for adults, $5 for students, and $15 for family.  Please see gcat.ca for more details. *Only GCAT members can vote for the board members at the AGM

Please let us know if you are interested in coming by sending an e-mail to activeguelph@gmail.com

 

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 7.20.02 AMDoor prize from Guelph Solar!

Guelph’s “Bread Bandit” runs a successful business by bike!

IMG_20161228_150153Ryan Ritskes, the Bread Bandit

I first heard about Ryan from an article in Guelph Today, about a man who delivers artisan bread by bike. Naturally, I thought it was a great combo and promptly signed up our household for a weekly bread drop in our mailbox. I have not been disappointed (the bread is definitely yummy,) and neither have his other customers, as his business is booming. And he delivers all 140 loaves to households and businesses by bike! (To inquire about getting your own loaves, you can contact him at guelphbreadbandit@gmail.com)

I thought Ryan would be a resident expert about cycling in Guelph, since he regularly cycles in Guelph for business, transportation, and pleasure. Here are Ryan’s thoughts on cycling in Guelph.

Hi Ryan, how is it that you can deliver 140 loaves of bread by bike?

The way that Guelph is built certainly helps. I have my bakery downtown, and all of my customers are within a 10-15 minute radius of downtown. So I can get to my customers really fast.

Do you bike in the winter as well?

Yes. Since I’m originally from Victoria, BC, I am used to biking year round, especially in the rain! When I moved to Guelph six years ago, I just continued cycling in the winter. This year, however, I did buy some studded tires, especially after our first bout with freezing rain.

Why is riding a bike important to you?

On a personal level it keeps me active and healthy. On a social level I think cars ruin our culture. You don’t get to interact with people .You value getting from A to B over relationships and your immediate environment. It’s all about speed.

Where do you go on the bike?

Everywhere. I use it for errands or getting to friends places, even going to Kitchener, or for a pleasure ride.

When do you use the car? What are the factors involved in deciding which to use?

I use the car for longer trips. Something that would take longer than an hour on a bike. I also use it when I pick up 500 pounds of flour. Otherwise, I use the car when I’m feeling lazy.

What is the hardest thing about using the bike for transportation?

It’s the getting started. Sometimes the anticipation of working hard when I’m tired makes me reluctant to get on the bike. But once I’m on it I love it.

Do you find yourself trying to convert other people to using bikes as a means of transportation?

I hope I can influence others by example. I hope that I set the example that you can have a business based around the bicycle. If my friends are going somewhere I suggest the bike, but I’m not the preachy type.

How did you come to your current bike set-up? How does it work?

I actually have 7 bikes. I have one for every purpose and every season. My “Bread Bandit” bike is a road bike with a straight bar and a steel frame with a trailer attached. I got that bike for 80 dollars. Of my other bikes, I raced in university but I don’t ride them much now. I prefer my “Bread Bandit” bike.

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How would you respond to people who feel a car is just safer?

On a personal level I would say that the car is safer than a bicycle. However, if everyone biked, then riding bikes around the city would be safer.

I’ve had the misfortune of being hit by a car 5 years ago. I was t-boned by a car turning left at the intersection of Woolwich and Oxford by the main library, while I was in the bike lane and got seriously injured. When you are on the bike you have no protection. I have since recovered but it is always in the back of my mind.

What needs to happen in Canada to make the culture, and eventually the roads, more bike friendly?

I was in Ottawa last month and noticed that they did something simple on Wellington street. Instead of bike lanes they painted bicycles in the middle of the road. Bicycles don’t need to be pushed aside. In Ottawa, the bicycle symbols are on a two lane road with low speeds where cars can’t get around you.

In Montreal, last winter, I saw that they have separated bike lanes. I’m not a huge fan of Guelph’s bike lanes (partly because I got hit in one.) Cars don’t expect me to be out of the bike lane. In Vancouver they have parallel streets that are bike friendly, and those streets are great. Imagine living on one of those streets; it would be a great place to raise children.

Name the top 5 five things you think people get out of transportation cycling.

  • Regular exercise
  • Interactions with people (All the time, people say kind words to me when I’m on my bike. Often they are curious about what I’m carrying!)
  • Stronger sense of place in the community
  • Get to enjoy the weather, be excited by it.
  • Inspire people. I find that little kids are fascinated by people who come regularly to their door. Kids are super fascinated by me, since I come on the bike. I hope I can inspire them, that it’s not about the bread, it’s about the bicycle.

Describe a typical delivery route.
I do a neighbourhood at a time. I do 50 houses. Most places are within a block or 2 of each other. It takes me about 1-2 hours. I deliver 3 days a week. It’s a full time 40-50 hour a week job, of which delivery would be about 5 hours. It takes longer by car. (I tried last winter, and I had to find a parking spot, so I was doing a lot of walking.)

What is the best part of your commute?


The best part is taking little tricks to get to certain spots. From The Guelph Music Centre across the Norfolk bridge, or skirting up a one way street quickly.

I also love it when the sun is shining!

What is the worst part of your commute?


Busy roads with lots of cars, such as Edinburgh, sometimes Woolwich and Norfolk, and Speedvale. Speedvale and Edinburgh are the worst.

What infrastructure change would make your commute better?


Whether separated bike lanes or sharrows, either would be good. And if car drivers weren’t as impatient.

I feel lucky with my trailer, I take up more space than when on a regular bike so people respect me more.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?

I usually tell people to not be scared of your right to the road. Make yourself visible.

Tweed and Bikes were a Perfect Combo!

Guelph’s first ever Tweed Ride, held Oct.1, was a great success! Despite the threat of rain, 30 very dapper and mostly tweed clad individuals came out to cycle, enjoy the fall colours, and enjoy a drink and conversation at the brewery.

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The event was organized by the Guelph Hiking Club, Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation, and Ned Coates, a Guelph citizen who is passionate about trees, tweed, and cycling.

We started off at the Arboretum, and despite the threat of rain, the participants kept on joining in. We even had a couple of families from Kitchener, one with their Dutch cargo bike.

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Along the way, we had a tour at the University of Guelph’s Bike Centre, where anyone can go and repair their bike along with the volunteers on hand.  We had some yummy apple cider and treats and then kept moving.

We felt, for a while, while going down Gordon Street and some side streets, that we were “King of the Road,” for a change.

img_20161001_144946img_20161001_142309img_20161001_145207We ended the tour at Royal City Brew Co. where there was plenty of time for a brewery tour and conversation.  Here we handed out prizes, to the best dressed male and female, as well as best Vintage Bike.

Thanks to Royal City Brew Co., Speed River Bicycle, Speed River Paddling, and Wike for your generous prizes.

Can’t wait for next year!