Sunday, 15 April 2012

A new opportunity and a new focus!

Hello all,

It has been some time since I have updated this website/blog, and for that, I apologize. The last few months have been hectic and time-consuming, but also exciting and rewarding.

When I started this initiative as an undergraduate student, I wanted to create a collective voice for cycling in Waterloo Region. I wanted to start a discussion on some of the great things I witnessed in Europe - mainly bikesharing, but also cycle tracks, exceptional bike parking facilities, and the vibrant cycling cultures that exist elsewhere.

We were successful in starting this discussion, and there are still many individuals at the University of Waterloo Sustainability Project (UWSP), the Working Centre, and other organizations who are working diligently to explore a bikeshare system and improve conditions for cycling in Waterloo Region.

As for me, I'm now employed with the City of Kitchener as their Transportation Demand Management Coordinator. My mandate is to implement both the TDM Plan and the Cycling Master Plan. Although bikesharing is still on my radar, it is not a major focus at this time. That being said, I am still interested in assisting other groups/individuals in any way that I can to continue the momentum we've built over the last year.

In the meantime, students at UWSP will continue to monitor and update this website periodically, and keep you posted on any new developments that arise. If you have any questions or comments, either about this initiative or regarding my new position, please feel free to contact me at josh.joseph@kitchener.ca. You can also follow me on Twitter at @josephmjosh

I appreciate your interest this initiative and I look forward to working collaboratively with others to improve conditions for cyclists in both the City of Kitchener and Waterloo Region!

Best Regards,

Josh Joseph
Transportation Demand Management Coordinator
City of Kitchener - Transportation Services
josh.joseph@kitchener.ca

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Our bikeshare presentation was a huge success!

Hello all,

Just a quick update on our bikeshare lunch workshop that we hosted recently. Over 40 people attended, including professional engineers, planners, consultants, non-profit organizations, government staff, private companies, graduate and undergraduate students, staff/faculty from both universities, and six regional/city Councillors! Thank you to those who could attend!

At the meeting, we opened the floor for feedback and discussion, and identified some important next steps, including:

Establishing a bikeshare stakeholder committee: At the meeting, we identified the need for a bikeshare stakeholder committee that would meet regularly to ensure the discussion on bikesharing continues. Over the holidays, we will develop this idea further and seek to initiate this committee in January.

Engaging master's students: It was also discussed to potentially involve master's students who are interested in completing their thesis on bikesharing. If this idea is explored further, it could provide the basis for researching and implementing a Phase 1 bikeshare system.

Overall, we've built an incredible momentum in regards to cycling and bikesharing, and I'm confident that we will continue to move forward in turning this popular idea into a reality. Stay in touch and move forward, together.

Best Regards,


Joshua Joseph
Candidate for Bachelor of Environmental Studies, University of Waterloo
Director of Active Transportation, UWaterloo Sustainability Project
Transportation Executive, Waterloo Students Planning Advisory
________________________________________
 
 

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

One cyclist fatality is one too many! Why is it happening?

One cyclist fatality is one too many. But how can we prevent further fatalities and create safer conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike? Dr. Dan Cass, Ontario's regional supervising coroner, is reviewing the recent cyclist fatalities that have occurred throughout the province in order to address the main issues.

Below is the message I sent to Dr. Cass, and I strongly encourage you to submit comments of your own. Together, we can make conditions safer for cyclists, and in my personal opinion, we should be seeking guidance from expert countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark.

You can email your comments to Dr. Dan Cass at occo.inquiries@ontario.ca. Special thanks to Bill Bean's Take the Lane Blog and TriTag for sharing this information.

---------------------

Greetings Dr. Cass,

My name is Joshua Joseph, a fourth year urban planning student at the University of Waterloo, and founder of the Region of Waterloo Bicycle Share Initiative (http://www.bikeshare.feds.ca). I would like to provide my input on the issue of cyclist fatalities in Ontario as you complete your review.

As gas prices continue to soar, more Ontario residents are taking to their bicycles to travel within their communities, a method of transportation that reduces traffic congestion, emits zero greenhouse gas emissions, promotes physical activity, and is highly affordable. Unfortunately, many cyclists in Ontario face significant threats to their safety when choosing a ride a bicycle, and I'd like to share my opinions as to why this is occurring:

1) Lack of segregated cycling infrastructure: Cyclists are not motorists, and should not be treated as such. It is essential that cyclists receive their own segregated cycling infrastructure. Countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark, which boast cycling rates of over 20%, have segregated cycling facilities that are safe, efficient, and highly utilized. Pictures of segregated cycling infrastructure physically separates cyclists from motorists, greatly reducing their chance of injury or death. In many cases, cyclists even have their own traffic lights at intersections. A few photos are listed below:

In Denmark: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Copenhagen_Style_Bike_Lane_2.jpg
In Netherlands: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bicycle_lane_Dronten.JPG
In Canada (Montreal): http://www.streetsblog.org/2006/06/27/this-is-what-bike-safety-looks-like/
Bicycle traffic lights: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Glasgow,_traffic_lights_for_bikes_in_Hope_Street_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1534036.jpg

2) Lack of traffic calming measures and speed reduction policies: Even if a cyclist is wearing a helmet and obeying the rules of the road, if they are struck by a fast moving vehicle, they will likely be seriously injured or even die. In fact, studies have found a relationship between traffic speeds and survival chance among cyclist/pedestrian fatalities. A car traveling at 32 km/h has just a 5% chance of injuring a pedestrian or cyclist, and this percentage jumps to 45% when a car is traveling at 48 km/h and 85% when a car is traveling at 64km/h. * What does this mean for Ontario? It means that when we do have cyclists and motorists traveling closely together on the roadway, we must reduce traffic speeds in order to minimize the chance of death/serious injury if a collision does occur.

3) Lack of education for both cyclists and motorists: In countries with high cycling rates, drivers and cyclists understand eachother's behaviour and act accordingly. In Ontario however, cycling as a form of transportation is relatively new, and motorists are often unaware of a cyclist's presence on the road. This not only reinforces my first point, that cyclists should be separated from motorists, but also that there needs to be a strong educational policy that teaches both drivers and cyclists how to travel safely. Since drivers and cyclists are different, so should their rules of the road (i.e. there should be specific rules for cyclists, specific rules for drivers, and some shared rules among both drivers and cyclists).

4) Lack of focus on the key issues which cause injury and death to cyclists: For years, cyclists who have been injured or killed have been blamed for not wearing a helmet or following the rules of the road. However, if you analyse the data on helmet use and injury, you'll notice a significant trend. The following graph, http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Y754K7m8KOU/ThWR1lIqjLI/AAAAAAAAAEo/QwAx100lAZ4/s1600/dd.jpg, appears to show that high rates of helmet use does not necessarily equate to lower risk of injury or death. For example, if 38% of cyclists in the U.S. wear helmets, why is the fatality rate much higher than in the Netherlands, where 0.1% of people wear helmets? The answer appears to have little to do with helmets and more to do with segregated cycling infrastructure and culture, further supporting my first point.

Dr. Cass, as an individual who wants to see Ontario communities become more cyclist friendly, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share my comments with you. If you have any comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you and working together to create a more bicycle friendly Ontario!

Best Regards,

--

Joshua Joseph
Candidate for Bachelor of Environmental Studies, University of Waterloo
Director of Active Transportation, UWaterloo Sustainability Project
Transportation Executive, Waterloo Students Planning Advisory
________________________________________
josephmjosh@gmail.com | 1-519-897-5394 | LinkedIn

Sunday, 2 October 2011

We're working on a bikeshare feasibility study!

After spending a summer in Copenhagen learning about their impressive cycling culture and infrastructure, I feel rejuvenated and confident that we can have the same sustainable lifestyle in Canada. This academic term, over forty University of Waterloo student volunteers have shown an interest in assisting me in developing a bikeshare feasibility study for the Waterloo Region area.

In our plan, we aim to address a variety of topics, including the most appropriate bikeshare system technology, number of stations and their locations, number of bicycles, possible challenges, potential funding sources and partners, and more. It's our hope that local politicians will analyze our plan and work with us to bring it to fruition.Our goal is to have the plan completed sometime around December 2011, and I will be making regular updates about its progress.

In the meantime, we're still promoting our online petition, which can be viewed here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/uwbikeshare/. It is our hope that both the petition and feasibility plan that we've initiated will help illustrate to local politicians that people do want a bikeshare system in the City / Region of Waterloo, and that it is possible.

- Josh

Joshua Joseph
Candidate for Bachelor of Environmental Studies, University of Waterloo
Director of Active Transportation, UWaterloo Sustainability Project
Transportation Executive, Waterloo Students Planning Advisory
e: josephmjosh@gmail.com | c: 1-519-897-5394

Thursday, 21 July 2011

What happens when drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians don't get along?

What happens when drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians don't get along? Chaos.

For decades, cyclists have traveled through the streets of Copenhagen, alongside motorists to their left and pedestrians to their right. It may seem unsurprising then that the relationship between motorists and cyclists in Copenhagen is quite positive. Speaking from my own personal experiences here, I have felt particularly safe at intersections, where most motorists patiently wait for cyclists before passing. The traffic signals for cyclists are also an added benefit, as well as blinking lights at certain intersections which warn automobiles that cyclists are approaching. But still, issues of safety are a concern even in Copenhagen, and this will be discussed in further detail below.

However, the relationship between drivers and cyclists in North America appears to be quite a different story. For decades, people have traveled mostly by automobile. Yet as more people choose the bicycle as a mode of transportation, motorists are now faced with sharing the road, largely because of inadequate infrastructure that forces motorists and cyclists to mix in traffic. With a lack of infrastructure for cyclists, a poor culture of sharing the road, and the majority of people still driving, roads in many North American communities have become dangerous places for everyone. Fortunately, various programs have been created to create a more positive relationship between drivers and cyclists.

Publicis Montreal has created a $250,000 campaign for Vélo Québec to improve the relationship between drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Interestingly, the Montreal Police Service provided some funding for the campaign, which will include television, print, and web publications. Share the Road is another Canadian organization that strives to create more bicycle-friendly communities - and as the name suggests, aims to encourage all users to 'share the road'. A short video below introduces the Vélo Québec campaign.



“Too often, we forget that we trade places between being a driver and being a cyclist depending on the moment,” said Nicolas Massey, vice-president, creative director of Publicis Montreal in a release. “We should all be interested in respecting the rules of the road, and each other.”

As mentioned previously, Copenhagen does have some issues with perceived and actual safety of cyclists. In the 2010 Bicycle Account, a comprehensive study on the state of cycling in Copenhagen, 34% of cyclists and 29% of non-cyclists claimed that better motorist road manners would encourage them to cycle more. 29% and 21% of cyclists and non-cyclists, respectively, cited better segregation between cyclists and motorists would encourage more cycling. Fortunately, the number of seriously injured cyclists fell from 252 in 1996 to 92 in 2010. Still, even with Copenhagen's world class cycling capital status, there are some issues related to cycling infrastructure, safety, and the relationship between drivers and cyclists.

Luckily, the global cycling movement appears strong and is growing each year. Together, we can move forward in creating a strong culture of sustainability where all road users - motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists alike, are respected and valued.  

Friday, 15 July 2011

Can bicycles really carry groceries, children, and furniture?

If someone told you that a simple bicycle could be used to carry groceries, take children to school, or move large furniture, would you believe it? In Copenhagen, transporting people and their goods via bicycle is a common and necessary reality, as over half the population does not own a personal automobile. Copenhagen cargo bikes were born decades ago in the Freetown of Christiania, a car-free community near the central city. Today, numerous people use Christiania Bikes and other similar brands daily.  Watch the video.



In many other parts of the world, including China and Africa, people also use their bicycles to transport goods. However, in North America, people tend to rely heavily on their automobiles for transportation purposes and goods movement. 40% of trips in the U.S. are 3 kilometers or less, but 90% of those short distances are taken by car. Perhaps this is due to the false perception that a car is necessary when running errands. In order to shift this attitude, the 2 Mile Challenge is striving to replace 100,000 car trips in the U.S. by encouraging people to ride a bicycle instead. Rails to Trails Conservancy estimates that if short car trips are replaced by bicycling or walking, between 2.4 and 5 billion gallons of gasoline could be saved annually, resulting in $8 to $17 billion in fuel savings each year.

With more cities facing traffic congestion, air quality issues, and public health concerns, programs are being developed to encourage people to cycle, but also to transport their goods via bicycle. Cycle Logistics, a European Union funded project, aims to encourage the use of bicycles to transport goods. The program, which will run from May 2011 to 2014 and span across 8-12 countries, will strive to achieve a concrete reduction in energy used for urban freight transport. This will be achieved through intra-urban delivery of goods by bicycle, replacing trips that would have otherwise been made by car. With a goal of saving 1300 tons of fuel and 3500 tons of CO2, the program will add 2000 new cargo bikes in urban areas and shift at least 10,000 automobile freight trips to more sustainable options.

“Currently, half of all trips in the city are related to the transportation of goods with light goods representing over a third of these trips”, explains ECF Project manager Dr. Randy Rzewnicki, noting that “there’s a huge potential for CYCLE logistics to shift these trips away from motorized vehicles and towards cycling-related solutions”.

Carry Your Things by Bicycle

Cargo Bikes: Designed specifically for larger loads, cargo bikes vary in shape, size, and style and are often used to transport passengers, furniture, pets, and more. Numerous cargo bikes sold in Amsterdam and Copenhagen are used by parents to transport their children.

Bicycle Baskets: These baskets can be mounted on the front or rear of a bicycle, and are among the most common in Copenhagen. They are often used to carry groceries, bags, or other small to mid-sized items. 

Messenger Bags / Backpacks: These bags are comfortable, accessible, and are commonly used by bicyclists.  The actual design of a messenger bag largely caters to the transportation of mail or goods by bicycle.

Panniers: Designed for front and rear styles, panniers are hung over bicycle wheels and designed to hold a variety of items, including laptops, folders, clothes, food, and more. In many cases, panniers can be detached and used as shopping bags.

Saddle Bags: Attached under the bicycle seat, saddle bags are small and are typically used to hold a few small items.