The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) held its sixth Annual Complete Streets Forum in Toronto on May 27th. The Forum featured 38 speakers, 13 moderators, 3 hands-on workshop leaders, 8 walking and cycling tour leaders and 228 participants.
The speakers were drawn from communities across North America that are leaders in the creation of complete streets, active transportation, and active communities. Forum speakers and participants included public health, planning and transportation professionals, cycling enthusiasts, and non-governmental organizations that are promoting active transportation in their communities because of its health and/or environmental benefits.
The three keynote speakers provided inspiring accounts of victories gained in their communities. Jerry Dobrovolny, Director of Transportation for the City of Vancouver, talked about the importance of setting aspirational targets for a community. He explained how the City of Vancouver shifted modal share for cars from 90% in 1976 to 58% in 2009 by setting ambitious targets and backing them with strong policies. He described how the City made an active choice, through its Transportation Plan, not to increase capacity for vehicles. That choice, which was controversial at the time, has created a modern City in which 17% of people walk or cycle and 25% use transit as their primary modes of transportation.
Timothy Papandreau, Deputy Director of the Sustainable Streets program for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency explained that his agency is a multi-modal agency responsible for all modes of transportation including transit, bike lanes, sidewalks, bridges, roads, taxis and parking that assesses investment priorities using an integrated modal benefits analysis. He touched on a number of innovative polices and programs that are being implemented to reduce the use of private vehicles in San Francisco. For example, he talked about a new multi-modal cell phone AP that can be used inform the user about how long it would take to reach a specified destination by a variety of different transportation modes.
Gabe Klein, Commissioner of Transportation for the City of Chicago, presented some of the innovative multi-modal initiatives they have developed and implemented in Chicago over the last few years in order to revitalize the City and improve the quality of life for its 2.6 million residents. For example, he described an elevated multi-modal pathway, complete with grass, trees and trails, that has been created out of an old railway over-pass, that spans seven different neighbourhoods in the City of Chicago.
The Forum included a workshop directed at work being undertaken by Toronto Public Health, TCAT and the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre under the renewed Healthy Canada by Design CLASP Initiative. It also included a workshop directed at the Complete Streets Game being developed by TCAT as a community engagement tool. The presentations for all speakers at the 2013 Forum can be accessed through the TCAT website at: http://tcat.ca/completestreetsforum2013/presentations.
Author: Kim Perrotta