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The Popularity Of Cycling In Windsor

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Introduction

Cycling is not just a means of transportation, but it’s a good form of physical exercise as well. There are numerous benefits of cycling and the biggest advantage is that it is eco-friendly. Moreover, an article published on Forbes Magazine throws light on a research study done by University of Glasgow explaining the huge benefits of cycling to work.

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Talking about Windsor, it can be clearly seen that there has been a huge surge in the number of cyclists in the city in the past few years. One of the major factors contributing to this rise has been high influx of international students coming to University of Windsor and St. Clair College. Cycling being an easy and affordable means of transit, is the first choice of students. In fact, a lot of students can be seen riding their bicycles at University Ave and Wyandotte Street near the vicinity of university. Besides all these recent developments, the city’s administration has not done enough amount of work to cater for the needs of cyclists. This is evident from an article published by CBC News which states that only 1% of cyclists in Windsor commute to work. The main reason for this might be the absence of a safe cycling infrastructure.

But in a wider context, this problem is persistent in whole of the Windsor area. There is enough data available which shows the seriousness of problem and call for an immediate action. The city has limited infrastructure to cater for the needs of cyclists. Thus, a design proposal is put forward to improve the existing stretch of road from University Ave at Huron Church to University Ave at Ouellette stretching 2.8 Kilometres. The stretch originally has separated cycle lane on both sides but the main problem is that the cycling lanes are shared with high speed motorists’ traffic. So, there is lack of trust among people to ride safely on this route. The design proposal provides a solution to this problem by providing a sense of security and peace of mind to cyclists by separating the cycling lanes from the traffic. Also, new improvements and adjustments are made considering all the stakeholders. The design if successful can be used as a benchmark to further improve cycling pathways on other vulnerable roads in the city as well. Some other recommendations are also advised which will help in successful implementation of this new design. The aim of this proposal is to make people’s cycling experience great and help them feel safer. It is important so that people can people enjoy their rides to work and keep themselves fit and healthy. This can potentially result in increased number of cyclists which will help to decongest the traffic problem and lowering the pollution levels in the city.

Background

Cycling has become increasingly popular in Windsor, but the rate of cycling here, are low when compared to that in many European cities. This might be because of the lack of safe cycling infrastructure in Windsor. A survey conducted by New State Farm suggests that more than half of Canadians know someone who got injured while cycling. According to the Bike Safety Road Audit conducted by the city of Windsor, it was revealed that there were 66 collisions involving cyclists last year at Windsor intersections. There were 89 involving pedestrians including one fatality. Most of the car-bike crashes involved cyclists riding on the sidewalk along busy roads and meeting with an accident as they continue through the intersection. Most of the roads in Windsor lack an efficient cycling infrastructure. Very few streets in Windsor have bike lanes installed.

The Bike Safety Audit report reveals that cyclists feel safer on sidewalks although the data proves it’s not so. Moreover, it is also a concern for the pedestrians for whom the sidewalk was originally built. Cyclists are common near the University of Windsor where most riders are the students. Even though there is a cycling path at the Wyandotte Street and University Avenue near to the University of Windsor, rarely do the cyclists use this space. Most of the bicycles that run through Wyandotte street and University Avenue near to the University of Windsor ride on sidewalks. The lack of a barrier separating the motor vehicles and the bicycles could be one of the reasons why cyclists prefer walkways. A small error in the part of a cyclist can result in serious injury even if there are no any other vehicles on the road. The instability of cyclists causes a greater problem when combined with motor traffic. Motor vehicles find it a bit difficult to spot bicycles which are comparatively smaller. This is more severe at busy intersections where cars find it difficult to spot the cycles. At night, the problem becomes more severe.

Cycling is not just a mode of transportation but also a good form of physical exercise. It is scientifically proven that cycling has significant health benefits. There is no reason to believe that the health risks outweigh the benefits. Hence promoting cycling also helps enhance the health of the citizens. Better cycling infrastructure could certainly bring out more cyclists in Windsor. All these reasons point out that the matter is of serious concern and requires immediate action. The “Bike Windsor Essex” is doing a significant amount of work to provide a safe cycling environment; however, additional steps are required so that people can enjoy their rides to work and keep themselves fit and healthy. A dedicated pathway for cycling is one of the best solutions to improve the cycling infrastructure.

Literary Review

Physically protecting the bicycle lanes makes most people feel safer about cycling. Markings on the road that indicate cycle lanes are just not enough to encourage bicycle riding. Studies conducted in Austin, Texas show that half of the population say they are interested in using bicycles for transportation but are concerned about the safety of cyclists on the road. The study also reveals that only fifteen percent of cyclists feel comfortable riding on painted bicycle lanes while forty percent of the cyclists feel safe riding in protected bicycle lanes but not in painted lanes. A phone survey conducted by the city of Austin suggested that protected bicycle lanes would attract fifty-five percent of Austin’s population. It is highly probable that the situation could be extremely similar in Windsor as well.

Factors affecting bicycle use

Some of the factors that promote the use of bicycle are flexibility, efficiency, health, and fun. Factors that discourage cycling are danger, distance, climate, poor facilities and lack of comfort is a model of the factors affecting bicycle use.

North Americans cycle less

North Americans are less likely to choose bicycling as a mode of transport for either short or long trips when compared to Europeans. Although there are differences in the urban infrastructure between North American and European cities, the higher rate of injury risks to cyclists in the North American cities could partly be a reason for this. Only 1% of trips are made in North America by cycling [12]. This is in sharp contrast to the estimated percent of trips by cycling in Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, and Austria, where 10 % of trips are through cycling. In Denmark and the Netherlands this goes up to 20 % [12]. Besides, an analysis of the traffic injuries while cycling showed there was a two to three-fold higher risk of death and an eight to thirty-fold higher risk of injury in North America when compared to that in Holland and Germany [11. In a survey conducted in Vancouver, the top deterrents to cycling were the risk of injury from car-bike collisions, fear that motorists are not careful enough to drive safely among cyclists, vehicles traveling faster than 50 km/hr and streets with a lot of bus and truck traffic [13].s the trend in Cyclist fatality rate per 100,000 population from 1990 – 2014 relative to 1990-1994 average. Canada has a higher cyclist fatality rate when compared to all the European nations taken for the survey.

Types of Cycling Facilities

Cycling facilities can be divided based on the level of separation from motor vehicle traffic. The three most common levels of separation are listed below:

  • Shared Facilities: Cyclists share the roadway with motorists. Majority of the streets in Windsor have this facility.
  • Designated Facilities: Cyclists have their own designated space that is separated just by a painted line.
  • Separated Facilities: Bicycle lanes are either physically or spatially separated from other road users.

Current suggestions for improving cycling infrastructure

Presently, suggestions have been made to reduce the collisions at busy intersections. Some highly accident-prone spots were found out. They were Tecumseh Road/Lauzon Parkway, Drouillard Road/Wyandotte, Walker Road/Ypres Avenue and Tecumseh Road/Windsor Avenue [17]. Short term suggestions were made to improve the conditions in these streets. Some of the short-term suggestions were as follows [17]:

  • Erecting signs at concerned busy intersections, telling cyclists riding on sidewalks to get off and walk their bike through the intersection.
  • Prohibiting right turns on red lights at busy intersections
  • Forcing cyclists to take a long detour at busy intersections

There has not yet been a long-term plan made to improve the cycling infrastructure. There is a lot to learn from European nations, which have made great infrastructural developments in making the cyclists feel safe. For example, In the Netherlands, the distance between the driveway and the cycleway at common urban intersections is 5.5 met. This eliminates the blind corners almost completely, even for trucks. The city of Malmö, Sweden has almost 300 miles of separated bike lane. They have level crossings where paths also cross through intersections. The city is also equipped with dedicated bicycle signal lights which are triggered by radar sensor. The city of Windsor can adopt some of these methods to improve its cycling infrastructure.

Requirements and Criteria

Before implementing a proposed solution, following factors should be considered for a fruitful outcome.

Huge raw materials

This proposed solution has a necessity of high amount of raw materials, which includes road making materials such as cement, concrete, charcoal, paint, traffic signals, signposts, etc. Completion of project is also dependent on availability of these materials in sufficient amount.

Huge amount of Funding

As per preliminary cost analysis, building such kind of infrastructure requires a big source of funding from government. City of Windsor Administration should also consider it as an important factor for criteria of success.

Construction Zones

During the construction period, there will be a necessity of creating construction zones in proposed area which is also among the highly utilised roads of city. Instead of blocking whole area, it can be done by dividing work into section. For example, blocking a small part of the road at a time and providing detour way to targeted traffic for their convenience at the same time.

Machinery

To build cycle lanes, special civil work machinery will be required under this project, which can be rent from civil contractors.

Safety

Safety of humans (pedestrians, students, cyclists, other drivers, labours) is extremely important factor that should be considered at any time of this project. All the workforce must wear personnel protective equipment at all the time and they must follow the proper standards of safety. Proper equipment should be installed on construction site so that non worker persons do not enter unknowingly.

Feasibility on road

Project requires that after completion of it cyclists must use cycle lanes for the use of cycles and avoid to ride on sidewalks or on other vehicles’ lanes. Moreover, especially in summer, people of city should be encouraged to choose cycles over the other modes of transportation for their day to day travelling.

Weather Conditions

Proposed solution is also dependent on weather conditions at the time of construction. Bad weather situation such as snowing can effect negatively. Ideally project must be done during summer.

Environment Factors

Cycling creates no pollution into environment and hence materials to be used in construction should be environment friendly.

Routine Maintenance

Regular maintenance of paint on lanes, signposts, traffic signals and other parts of infrastructure is required to be scheduled. Replacement of old parts should be done at regular intervals.

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