Active Transportation Week
This year Trac delivered a condensed Active Transportation Week rather than the Month long event the previous year. Despite the constraints, a great series of events were hosted.
- Walking Challenge
- GoByBike promotion
- Sufferfest II
- Inaugural E-Bike Photo Scavenger Hunt
- Safe Routes To School promotion
Active Transportation Improvements
In early 2020, members of TraC met with regional management at MOTI to review active transportation infrastructure issues. One item we discussed was the Community Safety Enhancement Program which was launched following the 2010 Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention. Under this program, active transportation enhancement projects are chosen by MOTI through consultation with local governments and law enforcement.
TraC developed a survey in June 2020 to provide more information regarding active transportation infrastructure needs on the Sunshine Coast. The survey identified twelve locations of concern and asked respondents to indicate which ones posed the highest risk to cyclists and pedestrians. The resulting report details these high-risk locations along with a description of current problem conditions, suggested remediation, and comments provided by survey respondents.
SCRD – Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC)
TraC continues to participate in the SCRD’s Transportation Advisory Committee in support of all things Active Transportation. TraC’s main focus this year were reports on ATW and requests for the Active Transportation Improvement list to be included in the SCRDs planning with MOTI.
TraC has been active on several fronts in Gibsons in addition to the Active Travel Week events. We responded to requests from the Town of Gibsons for input on several development applications and TOG road work, as well as initiated a campaign to include active transportation improvements on Highway 101 through Gibsons, including:
- Touchstone at Gospel Rock – How walking and cycling infrastructure will be included in this development will impact the travel choices for the residents of the development as well as the neighbourhoods surrounding it. Gibsons Council requested our input on how to improve active travel along Gower Point Road. We provided a number of options to improve this corridor. We also highlighted the importance of prioritizing safe, enjoyable and convenient active travel connections between the development and the upper and lower town centers to reduce both transportation related GHG emissions and the negative impact of increased vehicle traffic on adjacent neighbourhoods.
- Shaw Road Affordable Housing – We were asked to comment on this as part of its development application process. We provided a number of suggestions to improve the convenience and security of bicycle parking, and safety and on the design of the frontage road.
- TraC commented on the Town of Gibsons’ plan to develop a downhill cycling route using Gibsons Way, North Fletcher and South Fletcher. We stressed the importance that the design anticipates novice users, considering it connects to Gibsons Elementary School, and the safety implications of the many intersections it crosses. TraC’s advocacy during the construction of the uphill bike lane and sidewalk was key to securing funding for a downhill route.
- TraC petitioned MOTI to develop an All-Ages-and-Abilities cycling route along the North Road and Gibsons Way sections of Highway 101 as part of the re-paving project the past fall. Through collaboration with Gibsons Council, MOTI has committed to cycling improvements, though what these are remains unknown at this point. We’ve recently brought on the Gibsons Elementary PAC and District PAC as supporters of this improvement.
District of Sechelt
TraC continues to interact with Sechelt council and staff in advocating for improved active transportation infrastructure, building on the arrangement reached in previous years where TraC was added to the formal list of organizations that Sechelt will consult with regarding major projects and developments. Some of the specific interactions over the last year include:
- TraC applied for and obtained approval of a recurring grant from Sechelt to support Active Transportation Month (approved April 1, 2020)
- TraC indicated public support for the arrangement between the Sechelt Downtown Business Association and Sechelt council to increase non-car use of downtown Cowrie Street (published May 29, 2020)
- TraC presented and discussed the results of our survey of cyclists on the Coast in a delegation to Sechelt council, which resulted in a motion directing staff to prepare and send highway active transportation improvement priorities to the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. (October 21, 2020)
While most events that were planned in Sechelt for Active Transportation Month were cancelled due to COVID-19, we are pleased to report that new developments and upgrades of roads in Sechelt are showing a new attention to active transportation needs.
The biggest project in 2020 was the reconstruction of a portion of Trail Avenue, the major North-South transportation corridor in Sechelt. The new roadway includes sidewalks and paved paths on both sides, and while it is still under construction, it is already well used by a wide range of people and conveyances.
The new Silverstone Heights subdivision for 55 homes in West Sechelt contains a network of well designed and connected pathways, again separated from the roadway. If this standard had been applied over the last 20 years, Sechelt would be a much better place for cycling, walking, pushing baby carriages and driving mobility scooters. But a late start is far better than never. We thank Sechelt council and staff, working with developers, for these great improvements.
Endeavour to Ride
In 2019 Trac utilized an $8300 grant from Vancouver Coastal Health to purchase 10 bikes, helmets, bike rack and tools, creating a “bike library” for students in SD46’s NDVR program in Gibsons and Sechelt. Two additional bikes were purchased for staff with funds from SD46. TraC also contracted with LIFECycle for training sessions in cycling and basic bike maintenance, conducted in 2019.
The NDVR program serves at-risk students in grades 6 to 8, as part of the Sunshine Coast Alternative School. The goal of TraC’s Endeavour to Ride program is to provide multiple years worth of opportunities for safe and fun cycling to youth who may not otherwise have these opportunities. NDVR staff agreed to store the equipment and ensure ongoing participation by students after TraC’s initial involvement.
As part of our commitment to VCH, TraC will provide ongoing maintenance of the fleet of 12 bikes. Ideally – in a non-Covid year – we will include interested students in this process, teaching each class basic bike maintenance skills each fall. For 2020, TraC board members Martin Prestage and Mark Wilson spent a sunny October afternoon wrenching bikes at the Gibsons campus. We even salvaged a large size vintage Kona mountain bike for the very tall NDVR Gibsons instructor, allowing him to ride along with the class in comfort.
Active School Transport Committee
In 2018 TraC was invited by Vancouver Coastal Health to participate in several meetings with key players, to try to make inroads into the problematic trend of today’s youth becoming more and more sedentary.
Participants: TraC, staff from Vancouver Coastal Health, School District 46, and District PAC, District of Sechelt, Town of Gibsons, SCRD/Transit, Ministry of Children and Family Development, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Over the course of approximately 6 meetings, the focus was on:
- creating a common understanding of the issue and why it matters,
- recognizing how our systems are set up and what some of the barriers might be,
- delving into “what could be”,
- getting to a place where we could each start to commit to the goal of active travel for kids, and where applicable, perhaps solidify that goal in policies and plans of each of the agencies/organizations, and
- collaborating where possible, to enable the shifts that need to happen.
Examples of some of the current initiatives being worked on by participating agencies/organizations:
- MoTI Corridor Study – this group discussed projects which may come out of the recently completed study, how active travel for kids and for all ages/abilities can be included.
- SCRD’s upcoming Transit Future Plan (the last plan was 2014), a Terms of Reference targeted for early 2021, will include stakeholder process. This group requested that a child/youth lens be applied – as well as consideration for all ages and abilities, poverty reduction, and Active Transportation in general.
- Municipal plans and projects – District of Sechelt and Town of Gibsons are each currently working on or applying for funding to improve Trails GIS mapping, DoS has included a pilot with SD46 for parent/citizen engagement and crowdsourcing routes and trail information with the SD46.
- SD46 Best Routes to School – is working on improving their draft maps, discussed ways that the different groups can support this initiative.
TraC’s involvement in this group has created more awareness of the quality and amount of work TraC has done over the years in the realm of active transportation for a healthier community, and of the possibilities for working together. TraC is hopeful that the collaborative spirit achieved thus far with this group will continue.
Membership Engagement Activities
TraC currently has 122 members, an increase of approximately 75% since November 2018. We currently have 895 subscribers on our mailing list overall. A recent informal membership drive attempted to convert more of these subscribers to members and gained a handful of new members. We have, however, transitioned the membership renewal process to an automatic PayPal subscription which should help maintain the level of members we have. COVID-19 has limited what else we can do for membership engagement, however, in 2020 we:
- held a Bike Shorts Movie Night at the 101 Brewery
- hosted a slide presentation on active transportation in Medellin, Colombia
- issued e-newsletters in January and September
- migrated all our social media accounts to Hootsuite for more efficient cross-posting.
Plans for 2021 are to increase the number of e-newsletters in order to ensure members are fully informed of all our activities and use social media more frequently.