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Commuting trends: transit vs driving vs ...
#1
Based on the latest census data, 80% of commuters in the region are still driving, same as 20 years ago:

https://www.therecord.com/news-story/797...-the-road/

(It's a Jeff Outhit article, but reasonably balanced, I think.)

Transit's share has been stuck, but the LRT may trigger a bump in usage.  The intensification of the downtown cores is also bringing more people and more jobs downtown so we should see an increase in transit usage and walking in the coming years (whereas 2016 was impacted by all the LRT construction).

The number of people walking and bicycling to work is disappointingly small and even doubling those numbers would not have a big impact. And is it even realistic to expect to double them? Intensification, through people both living and working downtown, will inherently increase the number of people walking to work. But how to make a big impact on the number of people bicycling to work?
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#2
It's easy to dismiss cycling when you frame things in particular ways. There's been a roughly 0% increase in the proportion of driving commuters, but by Jeff's own quoted numbers, cycling commuters have gone from 1830 to 2600, a 42% increase. Driving attracted 47,895 new commuters while transit attracted 8,155, driving attracting a bit less than 6 times as many new commuters as transit, despite having well more than 6 times the mode share (meaning transit is attracting proportionally more and driving proportionally less). All commuters under 16 and likely under 18 would fall into any category *except* for driver, but of course we don't survey them. When you take into account the amount of money spent on drivers versus all other mode shares, it's not surprising to see these numbers.
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#3
For me, a better connection between Cambridge and Kitchener is all I need. My 20 km Drive is - 30 to 35 km bike ride because I need to try and find safe roads and trails to ride on. If it could be 20 or 25 km of safe, separated, or MUT riding, it’d be bliss and I’d do it every every day.
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
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#4
(11-30-2017, 11:36 AM)Viewfromthe42 Wrote: It's easy to dismiss cycling when you frame things in particular ways. There's been a roughly 0% increase in the proportion of driving commuters, but by Jeff's own quoted numbers, cycling commuters have gone from 1830 to 2600, a 42% increase. Driving attracted 47,895 new commuters while transit attracted 8,155, driving attracting a bit less than 6 times as many new commuters as transit, despite having well more than 6 times the mode share (meaning transit is attracting proportionally more and driving proportionally less). All commuters under 16 and likely under 18 would fall into any category *except* for driver, but of course we don't survey them. When you take into account the amount of money spent on drivers versus all other mode shares, it's not surprising to see these numbers.

I know, the headline portrays it as bad news, but by the census numbers, transit has grown driving has shrunk.  The article is more balanced, but still avoids stating the most apparent trend.
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#5
(11-30-2017, 11:36 AM)Viewfromthe42 Wrote: It's easy to dismiss cycling when you frame things in particular ways. There's been a roughly 0% increase in the proportion of driving commuters, but by Jeff's own quoted numbers, cycling commuters have gone from 1830 to 2600, a 42% increase. Driving attracted 47,895 new commuters while transit attracted 8,155, driving attracting a bit less than 6 times as many new commuters as transit, despite having well more than 6 times the mode share (meaning transit is attracting proportionally more and driving proportionally less). All commuters under 16 and likely under 18 would fall into any category *except* for driver, but of course we don't survey them. When you take into account the amount of money spent on drivers versus all other mode shares, it's not surprising to see these numbers.

I don't think anyone is dismissing cycling, even Mr Outhit. And yes, it has grown faster, but the base is so small that it's still less than 1.5% of the total commuters.

But my challenge to you is, what can we realistically do to get the cycling share to the 4-5% range in the next 10 years? Specifically I would like to see realistic, achievable proposals or suggestions.

P.S. Regarding your money spent comment, you can argue that everyone drives because we spend the money. But conversely one can argue that we should spend the money because everyone (85% of people surveyed) drives. And transit does need those roads, too, as sometimes do bicyclists.  But anyway, this is not something I personally want to argue about.
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#6
(11-30-2017, 12:27 PM)tomh009 Wrote:
(11-30-2017, 11:36 AM)Viewfromthe42 Wrote: It's easy to dismiss cycling when you frame things in particular ways. There's been a roughly 0% increase in the proportion of driving commuters, but by Jeff's own quoted numbers, cycling commuters have gone from 1830 to 2600, a 42% increase. Driving attracted 47,895 new commuters while transit attracted 8,155, driving attracting a bit less than 6 times as many new commuters as transit, despite having well more than 6 times the mode share (meaning transit is attracting proportionally more and driving proportionally less). All commuters under 16 and likely under 18 would fall into any category *except* for driver, but of course we don't survey them. When you take into account the amount of money spent on drivers versus all other mode shares, it's not surprising to see these numbers.

I don't think anyone is dismissing cycling, even Mr Outhit. And yes, it has grown faster, but the base is so small that it's still less than 1.5% of the total commuters.

But my challenge to you is, what can we realistically do to get the cycling share to the 4-5% range in the next 10 years? Specifically I would like to see realistic, achievable proposals or suggestions.

P.S. Regarding your money spent comment, you can argue that everyone drives because we spend the money. But conversely one can argue that we should spend the money because everyone (85% of people surveyed) drives. And transit does need those roads, too, as sometimes do bicyclists.  But anyway, this is not something I personally want to argue about.

Regarding the "PS" we don't spend the money "because everyone drives"...we spend the money because facilitating transportation is a public good that grows our economy by connecting employees with employers and businesses with clients and moving freight. 

However, when we look at our options, facilitating transportation should mean more than roads for cars, especially given that single occupant vehicles (SOVs) are the most wasteful least effective way of enabling transportation.  It costs the most, in direct road construction costs, in environment costs, in social costs, compared with cycling infra and transit.  So we should invest in those because it's a fiscally responsible thing to do.

Roads play a part in the whole thing, as you mention, they're used by freight, transit, cyclists, and SOVs.  SOVs in the city are the thing which we should am to reduce, because they have the highest cost, and the other options are most effective in the city.

Nobody is suggesting the transition can or should happen in one day, and anyone who believes there is a "war on cars" is frankly...delusional.  We spend enormous sums on roads, and that isn't proposed by anyone to stop, all that is being suggested is that we start the transition.


=================

As for a reasonable proposal to get to 4-5% in 10 years.  What do you mean by reasonable?  Reasonable engineering schedule wise and cost wise?  That's easy.

There's literally dozens of missing connections between bike infra in the region that could be fixed in 2-3 years work with a few million dollars investment.  Intersections could have bike accommodation added easily with paint, and some flex posts.  Segregated bike lanes could be formed with flex posts and narrowing lanes.  In many places road diets should be accomplished with paint and flex posts or planters.

They keys are,

a) We have many overbuilt roads with plenty of space for infra through road diets, or in some cases just painting the damn lines, that we aren't even considering doing.
b) We should be tightening turns and narrowing lanes to make roads safer in general.
c) We should be fixing intersections and missing links in the existing network.

Frankly, if the political will was there, these could be accomplished within 5 years, within the current budget with reasonable reallocations, and that would easily get us a network that would put probably half the population within a safe comfortable bike ride of work.  Of course, we're not even close to that right now.  Right now, we have opposition and discussion about putting bike lanes in extra space on roads that's literally used for nothing.  We have discussion about whether speed bumps should be built literally in the bike lanes.  We have "walk your bike signs" appearing at intersections around the region.

So no, I don't think any of this is reasonable in 10 years politically.  I don't know what the answer is.  The region seems plenty willing to spend money on infra, but few in the region or cities seem willing to build proper infrastructure, or to reduce car speeds or make intersections safer.  When vision zero is discussed at council, the main point being made is how inconvenient it would be to motorists to not kill people.

Frankly, it's demoralizing and depressing given that the path forward to a working system seems so easily and straightforward, and the challenges are institutional and political.  On the other hand, the uptown bike lanes are such a gigantic leap forward, it keeps some hope alive.
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#7
(11-30-2017, 02:41 PM)danbrotherston Wrote:
(11-30-2017, 12:27 PM)tomh009 Wrote: I don't think anyone is dismissing cycling, even Mr Outhit. And yes, it has grown faster, but the base is so small that it's still less than 1.5% of the total commuters.

But my challenge to you is, what can we realistically do to get the cycling share to the 4-5% range in the next 10 years? Specifically I would like to see realistic, achievable proposals or suggestions.


As for a reasonable proposal to get to 4-5% in 10 years.  What do you mean by reasonable?  Reasonable engineering schedule wise and cost wise?  That's easy.

There's literally dozens of missing connections between bike infra in the region that could be fixed in 2-3 years work with a few million dollars investment.  Intersections could have bike accommodation added easily with paint, and some flex posts.  Segregated bike lanes could be formed with flex posts and narrowing lanes.  In many places road diets should be accomplished with paint and flex posts or planters.

They keys are,

a) We have many overbuilt roads with plenty of space for infra through road diets, or in some cases just painting the damn lines, that we aren't even considering doing.
b) We should be tightening turns and narrowing lanes to make roads safer in general.
c) We should be fixing intersections and missing links in the existing network.

Frankly, if the political will was there, these could be accomplished within 5 years, within the current budget with reasonable reallocations, and that would easily get us a network that would put probably half the population within a safe comfortable bike ride of work.  Of course, we're not even close to that right now.  Right now, we have opposition and discussion about putting bike lanes in extra space on roads that's literally used for nothing.  We have discussion about whether speed bumps should be built literally in the bike lanes.  We have "walk your bike signs" appearing at intersections around the region.

So no, I don't think any of this is reasonable in 10 years politically.  I don't know what the answer is.  The region seems plenty willing to spend money on infra, but few in the region or cities seem willing to build proper infrastructure, or to reduce car speeds or make intersections safer.  When vision zero is discussed at council, the main point being made is how inconvenient it would be to motorists to not kill people.

Frankly, it's demoralizing and depressing given that the path forward to a working system seems so easily and straightforward, and the challenges are institutional and political.  On the other hand, the uptown bike lanes are such a gigantic leap forward, it keeps some hope alive.

I said "reasonable and achievable" so unfortunately the latter part necessarily drags politics into the picture. If we can't get the politicians to adopt and/or support and/or at least accept the initiatives, they simply won't happen.

Of your three points, (a) seems to have the greatest potential to increase the number of bicycle commuters.  Safety is important, no doubt, but I suspect that making intersections safer would not have a big impact in encouraging people to cycle to work.  So does this initiative, of adding dedicated bike lanes (to how many streets?) have the ability to double the cycling proportion within 10 years?  (The previous 42% increase is over 20 years, or less than 2% per year.)

Things I can think of myself is are improved bicycle parking facilities downtown (our office building actually has a nice big secure room for bicycles, but many buildings do not) -- and improved bicycle sharing infrastructure for people who just want to ride and not deal with ownership.
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#8
When I was a student I walked, biked and rode transit because those were my only options. My parents did not drive me everywhere. When I graduated and started working I continued to walk, bike or transit everywhere because I could not afford to buy a car. As my life changed and I got married my responsibilities changed as well. Two people working on different schedules meant getting kids to and from daycare along with long work days meant that I didn't want to be sitting on a bus or riding a bike which would both more than double my commuting time. Time which I wanted to spend with my kids. As the kids got older and they became involved in sports as well as other activities, not to mention my wife's and my personal activities, time became a major factor. It was just not feasibly possible for our family to live our lives within the time available to us and use transit, cycling or walking to get to everywhere we needed/wanted to go. Now a days when I have more time on my hands I love to cycle and walk for exercise and pleasure. We will sometimes walk to the store to pick up one or two items. We never use transit because it is just not convenient for us. We live fairly central in Kitchener and can drive almost anywhere in KW in 10-15 minutes without having to stand at a bus stop in bad weather. Most of our trips by car involve stopping at multiple locations along our planned route. When my father was alive I also needed to drive him to apppuntments and grocery shopping because of mobility issues. Sorry for the long rambled on explanation. What I am trying to get at is that many people have busy and complicated lives that prevent them from using transit and cycling as a means of commuting and getting around. For those that are able to do so I commend you. As for cycling infrastructure it my not be perfect but it is way better than when I commuted by bike. There were limited bike trails in the suburbs and no such thing as bike lanes. It appears these days that I keep seeing more and more bike lanes. Is it perfect, no. Is it getting better, yes.
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#9
I'm curious if the mode of transportation has changed for people who live closer to their places of work. Does the census data include commute distance (I've been saving my read of the census for this coming weekend)?

I feel like a lot of people are farther than 5km away from their workplace, and I feel like more people are commuting to the GTA or across the city than were 20 years ago. I don't know if that change is in proportion with population increases though, or if it has any meaningful impact on mode of transportation choices.
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#10
I definitely have many coworkers with children who bike them to daycare, to soccer practice, and elsewhere, even at decent distances. If you're going to move to the newest suburb the farthest from your job and you're in a situation where one spouse works in St. Jacobs, another in Galt, and choose a daycare in Breslau, but want to live in Woolwich, (don't laugh, that was a coworker of mine), well yes, I would expect you'd find it harder. But I also know colleagues whose jobs and daycares aren't at all walkabout but still manage a good commute by bike. It's not impossible, it's only what we make of it. I'm not surprised that I know someone who lives west of Galt and works in St. Jacobs, that he drives to work. I do find it a bit bizarre that he expects that transit or cycling should have the exact same commute time or not be financially supported at all...
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#11
(11-30-2017, 03:14 PM)tomh009 Wrote:
(11-30-2017, 02:41 PM)danbrotherston Wrote: ...
a) We have many overbuilt roads with plenty of space for infra through road diets, or in some cases just painting the damn lines, that we aren't even considering doing.
b) We should be tightening turns and narrowing lanes to make roads safer in general.
c) We should be fixing intersections and missing links in the existing network.
....

I said "reasonable and achievable" so unfortunately the latter part necessarily drags politics into the picture. If we can't get the politicians to adopt and/or support and/or at least accept the initiatives, they simply won't happen.

Of your three points, (a) seems to have the greatest potential to increase the number of bicycle commuters.  Safety is important, no doubt, but I suspect that making intersections safer would not have a big impact in encouraging people to cycle to work.  So does this initiative, of adding dedicated bike lanes (to how many streets?) have the ability to double the cycling proportion within 10 years?  (The previous 42% increase is over 20 years, or less than 2% per year.)

Things I can think of myself is are improved bicycle parking facilities downtown (our office building actually has a nice big secure room for bicycles, but many buildings do not) -- and improved bicycle sharing infrastructure for people who just want to ride and not deal with ownership.

Certainly politically things need to change.  I have little confidence these days in anything changing.  We continue to build piecemeal, bad infrastructure then use it's failures to justify not doing more.

As for a) yes, that's a big help, but I think you undervalue b) and c).   There are literally tens of thousands of trips which are a few hundred yards of missing bike infrastructure under the highway or other busy road away from being totally comfortable.

Further, I don't know if you bike or not, but the worst part of biking for me, is how I'm continually blamed for not following the laws, which are basically impossible to follow because the design has ignored cyclists.

The best example of this is MUTs, we have a lot of them in the region, and at every intersection, you bump over two curbs just to ride illegally through a crosswalk.  That really turns me off.

Certainly you bring up some very good points about trip end facilities, I have no problem finding secure bike parking at my work and previous workplaces, but even when I was going to school, I brought my bike into my office (against continual admin staff whining) because I didn't want to see it disappear.  There was no facility for end use.  Bike share would also certainly be easier (and apparently requires less political will).

When it comes right down too it though, I think end use facilities are a nice to have (I *can* lock my bike outside), but safe infra is a must, people won't cycle if they're made to feel unsafe.  But I might be wrong, certainly there are counter examples.
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#12
(11-30-2017, 03:33 PM)creative Wrote: When I was a student I walked, biked and rode transit because those were my only options. My parents did not drive me everywhere. When I graduated and started working I continued to walk, bike or transit everywhere because I could not afford to buy a car. As my life changed and I got married my responsibilities changed as well. Two people working on different schedules meant getting kids to and from daycare along with long work days meant that I didn't want to be sitting on a bus or riding a bike which would both more than double my commuting time. Time which I wanted to spend with my kids. As the kids got older and they became involved in sports as well as other activities, not to mention my wife's and my personal activities, time became a major factor. It was just not feasibly possible for our family to live our lives within the time available to us and use transit, cycling or walking to get to everywhere we needed/wanted to go. Now a days when I have more time on my hands I love to cycle and walk for exercise and pleasure. We will sometimes walk to the store to pick up one or two items. We never use transit because it is just not convenient for us. We live fairly central in Kitchener and can drive almost anywhere in KW in 10-15 minutes without having to stand at a bus stop in bad weather. Most of our trips by car involve stopping at multiple locations along our planned route. When my father was alive I also needed to drive him to apppuntments and grocery shopping because of mobility issues. Sorry for the long rambled on explanation. What I am trying to get at is that many people have busy and complicated lives that prevent them from using transit and cycling as a means of commuting and getting around. For those that are able to do so I commend you. As for cycling infrastructure it my not be perfect but it is way better than when I commuted by bike. There were limited bike trails in the suburbs and no such thing as bike lanes. It appears these days that I keep seeing more and more bike lanes. Is it perfect, no. Is it getting better, yes.

I disagree with your assessment of cycling.  I bike and I routinely make multiple stops on my trip home.  I don't have kids, but I do have a busy life, just like everyone else, and I feel no limitations on my getting around by bike.  It really doesn't take me much longer to bike than it would to drive most places.  People vastly underestimate the speed you can bike around, and when you factor in finding parking in the cores, almost always biking is faster for most of my trips.  Transit too, is competitive....less so for multiple trips, but at least for work and home, in the core, it's fairly competitive with driving when you consider I sit on the bus and check email (or facebook or WRC).  Certainly I use a car sometimes, but the vast majority of my trips are on bike.

Sure if you live in the suburbs, this is not true, but in the core, I don't think it's at all fair to say "busy people need a car".
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#13
Not distance but there is commute duration. Below 15 minutes active transportation (effectively walking and bicycling) has a decent share, at about 9%. (For me personally, now that I live downtown, I do walk to work rather than driving.)

But above 45 minutes, we have almost 5000 people taking transit (yes, I understand, with connections it can be slow) -- but also 3000 people driving. What drive within the region takes more than 45 minutes on average? South end of Cambridge to Wellesley maybe?
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#14
(11-30-2017, 03:50 PM)danbrotherston Wrote: As for a) yes, that's a big help, but I think you undervalue b) and c).   There are literally tens of thousands of trips which are a few hundred yards of missing bike infrastructure under the highway or other busy road away from being totally comfortable.

Further, I don't know if you bike or not, but the worst part of biking for me, is how I'm continually blamed for not following the laws, which are basically impossible to follow because the design has ignored cyclists. (...)

Certainly you bring up some very good points about trip end facilities, I have no problem finding secure bike parking at my work and previous workplaces, but even when I was going to school, I brought my bike into my office (against continual admin staff whining) because I didn't want to see it disappear.  There was no facility for end use.  Bike share would also certainly be easier (and apparently requires less political will).

When it comes right down too it though, I think end use facilities are a nice to have (I *can* lock my bike outside), but safe infra is a must, people won't cycle if they're made to feel unsafe.  But I might be wrong, certainly there are counter examples.

I think finding out what would get people onto their bicycles would be worthy of a serious survey. Perception is reality, and I don't know whether people perceive issues with distance, weather, safety, facilities, lack of bike sharing or something else, and that holds them back from commuting by bicycle.

Ad for me personally, these days I bike less, as most places are within walking distance for me, and it's often quicker and more convenient for me to walk. (And as an aside, I do think the walking proportion will increase gradually with intensification, without any significant new initiatives.)
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#15
Dan how can you comment on my situation if you do not have kids. I was just explaining my scenario and as you usually do you immediately attacked me and disagreed with me without being able to personally be able to compare apples to apples. I don't live in the suburbs which you seem to imply for some reason. I live a 3 minute drive from downtown Kitchener and 7 minutes to downtown Waterloo and have no difficulty finding parking. My point in my original post that people need to realize that everyone's personal situation is different. I did not attack those that cycle and take transit. I merely tried to explain my situation and for some reason I get attacked for doing so because you disagree with me.
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