Safety: Why Toronto Must Install Bike Lanes on Bloor

Tomorrow at 9:30 AM Toronto City Council will decide if pilot bike lanes will be installed on Bloor Street between Avenue Road and Shaw Street. The plan before council is extremely well designed, supported by all local resident groups, will lead to increased local business profits, and generally provides greater transportation options that will reduce congestion in the city. However, the single most important reason why the pilot must move forward is simple: cyclists have a right to be safe on roads.

In this post, I share a simple analysis and mashup of two datasets: 1. the number of cyclists on Bloor and the surrounding areas (as recorded using the Toronto Cycling App that records GPS data), and 2. the location of safe cycling infrastructure that is currently in place. There are many drawbacks to the Cycling App data since it is not necessarily representative of all trips but given there are several thousand trips I would argue it does provide a valid proxy measure of general cycling behavior in downtown areas.

The Bike Land Pilot Area and the total number of cycling trips per road segment are illustrated in the map below - shades of pink show areas with a relatively high total number of cycling trips.




Next, the map below illustrates where there are safe cycling routes in place.




And finally, the map below combines these two datasets, to show the number of cycling trips on roads where there is currently no safe cycling route. This map makes a clear argument for why the City Council must not miss this opportunity to install bike lanes on Bloor Street and close a dangerous gap in the current cycling network.

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Community Design Indicators and Neighbourhood Population Health

This infographic summarizes my Major Research Project (MRP) completed for the Master of Planning in Urban Development program at Ryerson University. I am happy to be finished my degree requirements now, and I am looking forward to getting back to my professional career. Please email me at Anth42[at]gmail.com if you know of any job opportunities that may align with my passion for creating healthy communities.



You can download my entire MRP by clicking on the cover page below:



OBJECTIVE – Healthy community design is an emerging paradigm that unites the fields of urban planning and public health. Many studies have evaluated Community Design Indicators (CDIs) related to land use, transportation, housing, food and natural areas and many of these studies have also linked CDIs to harmful or protective physical, mental and social health impacts. However, most studies focus on a small number of design indicators and many rely on proprietary datasets. Alternatively, this study calculates a comprehensive set of CDIs using open data sets and links results to a wide range of health measures.

METHODS – A literature review of CDI calculation methods and associated health impacts was conducted to create a comprehensive CDI framework. Each design indicator was then calculated using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for 106 neighbourhoods in Metro Vancouver, Canada. Correlations were also evaluated between CDIs and both built environment and health measures from the My Health My Community (MHMC) survey.

RESULTS – The CDI framework was validated based on several strong correlations between objective CDIs and subjective built environment measures from the MHMC survey. Additionally, several CDIs were found to have moderate correlations with one or more health measures. In particular, there were many associations between CDIs and rates of utilitarian walking and levels of obesity.

DISCUSSION – This study has four implications for professional practice related to supporting evidence-based stakeholder engagement and decision-making, informing performance-based planning and design, measuring economic and environmental performance, and inspiring intersectoral healthy community design visions and action-oriented implementation strategies.


Also, here is my 3-minute thesis speech about this project just in case you are interested in a quick introduction:




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Mapping Access to Green Space in Toronto

I recently created a special report on 'Mapping Access to Greenspace in the City of Toronto and the Lower Don Valley' that can be downloaded by clicking the cover page below:

http://bit.ly/1SnK5UQ

I also presented this report to staff from the City of Toronto at a 'Parks, Forestry and Recreation Speakers's Corner event. The video recording can be viewed below:



I also created an interactive map to allow you to explore detailed data, click here or on the map image below to open it in a new window. The legend for the interactive maps is also below.



Finally, the following maps were included in the report - I am not going to explain them in detail here so you will just have to read the report to find out more!

































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Transportation Options for Liberty Village - Final Report


Over the past four months, I have been fortunate to work with a small team to create a report on Transportation Options for Libert Liberty Village. This project was part of a Studio course in the Master of Planning program at Ryerson University. Our team worked in collaboration with staff from the City of Toronto, and our goal was to support the ongoing update to the Garrison Common North Secondary Plan - a long-term planning framework to guide development for the area that covers the Liberty Village employment area and surrounding residential areas.

You can download the full report by clicking on the cover page to the right or view our final presentation slides in the Slideshare below:



For more background on the transportation challenges in the area, and a very detailed analysis of current travel behavior based on the Transportation Tomorrow Survey visit my earlier post here - this post also includes the slides from my group's Interim Studio Presentation on the Background Research for this project.

This project provided an inspiring opportunity to dream a little about what the future could look like if we connect the many ongoing plans for the area including the following:

  • UnderGardiner, West Toronto Railpath and Stanley Park extension / Garrison Creek Greenway linear parks; 
  • Regional Express Rail, a new SmartTrack station, and the King Street Visioning Study; 
  • The new Citywide Cycling Network Plan; and 
  • Three new bridges and several other initiatives in the area that will make active and sustainable modes the most delightful way to travel. 

The simple context is Liberty Village has and will continue to grow quickly, but there have been very few transportation improvements to this former industrial area. In addition to the recent population growth that is widely discussed, the employment area is projected to also experience significant growth - from about 10,000 employees today to potentially over 20,000 in 2035. This growth creates a great opportunity to leverage private development to invest in new transportation options for the area. Some of this potential growth is shown on the current and future development maps and 3D building massing visualizations below:









The following maps summarize the current and future transit, cycling and walking networks and parking supply in the Liberty Village area. Many of the future improvements are already proposed, planned or approved by the City, though several extra bike lanes and one new bus route have been added. The report also describes all the interventions in more detail and includes detailed phasing recommendations for each of these projects.

















If you put these networks on a single map, you get a complete regional vision of the future sustainable transportation network and local connections within the study area that will enhance access and circulation:





Broadly speaking the regional elements of this plan rely on the City of Toronto's King Street Visioning Study to remove cars from King Street that will enable the 509 King Street Car to provide excellent service to Downtown. The plan also includes investments in the West Toronto Rail Path and the UnderGardiner linear parks. There are also several other cycling connections aligned with the draft City of Toronto Cycling Network Plan that is currently being developed to guide the next 10 years of cycling investment across the City. More locally this plan supports the addition of separated cycle tracks on Liberty Street, and construction of a new road and separated multi-use pathway on the southern edge of Liberty Village that has a completed Environmental Assessment.

The cycling network connects to three new bridges including the following:
  • The funded Fort York Pedestrian Bridge, 
  • A smaller funded pedestrian bridge near the centre of Liberty Village, and 
  • A new 'King High Line' bridge connection from the end of Atlantic Avenue. 

The High Line bridge will connect to a new pedestrian mall and public park on Atlantic Avenue to the south, and the terminus of the Railpath Phase II extension that also has an approved Environmental Assessment to the northwest. Farther south, the pedestrian mall connects to an upgraded tunnel connection to Exhibition, that will soon have improved 15 minutes, all day regional express rail service. Transit will also dramatically change when a new SmartTrack station opens - this could be very soon if Metrolinx simply makes the UP express airport train stop at a pilot platform as soon as next year.

Finally, site visits and desktop research were used to select parcels that are likely to be redeveloped into new office space since the employment area does not allow condos. This will enable many upgrades to the local streetscape and public realm including new sidewalks, removal of boulevard parking, and creation of new public walkways between streets.

It is a lot to consider, so please do let me know what you think is most important to focus on first. I welcome your feedback in the comments below or on Twitter @HealthyCityMaps. Thanks!


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My Three Minute Thesis (3MT)

Today I entered a speech competition at Ryerson University called Three Minute Thesis or 3MT. I was challenged to present my Masters Research Project (MRP) in 180-seconds, showing only one static slide, and without any notes or cue cards of any kind. Although I did not win, I received great feedback and I was happy to embrace the opportunity distil the key messages of my research, and try to communicate my work to an audience with no urban planning background. Here is what I can up with, as performed live today:



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Transportation Options for Liberty Village

Liberty Village is a new residential neighbourhood in Toronto that emerged within the past 10 years. The area also has a rich industrial history and has recently evolved into a new hub for creative and technology start-ups and established businesses.

Despite this growth, there have been virtually no new transportation investments. Therefore, congestion on the 504 King streetcar and parking shortages are hot topics at water coolers across the city. To gain an evidence-based understanding of this problem, I conducted a substantial amount of spatial analysis related to transportation options to and from Liberty Village.

Where people who live in Liberty Village work, and
how they get there - see slide 30 for more information.
The presentation included below describes the history of urban development, summarizes relevant transportation planning policies, reviews current transportation behaviour, and a provides a detailed assessment of current and future infrastructure that supports walking, cycling, transit use and driving to and from Liberty Village.

This presentation is an expanded version of an interim presentation delivered to a studio course in the Master of Planning in Urban Development Program at Ryerson University. Findings of this report reflect the opinions of the studio group, and do not represent the opinions of the City of Toronto. All data are presented as drafts for review only, please send questions, corrections or comments to Anthony on twitter @HealthCityMaps. I would also like to thank my group members for the extensive involvement in this project.



This short video clip includes a portion of this presentation focused on the current supply and demand of transportation options.

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Design Review of Hinge Park Based on The Seven Cs Framework for Evaluating Natural Play Environments


Photos from PWL Partnership
This presentation provides an introduction to a new community park that is generally referred to as Hinge Park, although has not been formally named by the Vancouver Parks Board. This park is located next to the 2010 Olympic Athletes Village, or what is now known as the Southeast False Creek Neighbourhood. Overall this park is a wonderful example of a master planned site that provides unique elements for play and relaxation.

The presentation includes a unique site tour created using Google Earth Pro, and it describes the park design elements and how they support the broader design goals of the community. There is also discussion of the artificial habitat island (or beer island as it is often called), the planning policies of the city that are supported by this project. The presentation also describes the Seven Cs, an evidence-based framework for evaluating the quality of natural outdoor play spaces for children. Several lessons for the City of Toronto are also suggested.

This presentation was delivered in an urban park planning class in the Master of Urban Planning program at Ryerson University in Toronto.





The following slide summarizes my own personal evaluation of this space:


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Cartography Portfolio

I have compiled a new Cartography Portfolio that contains nearly 500 maps and data visualizations I created over the past seven years. This is not every map I have made, rather a cross-section of representative types and content themes that I can publically share.

After the first nine overview images, the individual maps are sorted chronologically so you can see the progression of my career through the following phases:
  1. Early academic assignments for UBC Geography courses
  2. Population health research for the Human Early Learning Partnership
  3. Urban design and environmental assessment projects for HB Lanarc/Golder Associates
  4. Recent academic assignments for the Ryerson Master of Planning Program
  5. Several other projects I worked on for this blog and as consulting contracts are also interspersed throughout the album. 
I hope this overview of my work provides some insight into the diverse analysis and design topics I have enjoyed exploring. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments below or on twitter @HealthyCityMaps.

I also recently updated my main blog landing page so posts are shown as a preview with a small thumbnail - I hope this makes navigation into some of my older content a little easier since I now have 55 posts! Or you can look at the ten most popular posts listed on the banner to the right of this post. Finally, I also recently added a new Consulting tab to this site, so please explore that if you would like to learn more about the analysis and design services I can provide you or your organization.


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Welcome to The Ribbon: The Lower Don Valley

This semester I had the privilege of working with a studio group in the Ryerson School of Urban and Regional Planning, to complete a visionary design project in partnership with the Evergreen Foundation. This project supported the Evergreen 'Ribbon' fundraising campaign, that will enhance access to the Evergreen Brickworks, via the Lower Don corridor that connects to Toronto's waterfront. This project had three primary objectives: analyze the history, ecology, neighbourhoods and uses within the study area; review and synthesize relevant planning policies and reports; and conceive a concise design vision and list of specific interventions. To support this project, I designed the following study area map to inform our analysis:




To illustrate the study area in a more interactive way, I created the following 'flyover' video to illustrate the journey from Corktown Common, up the Ribbon to the Brickworks:



I also designed the following series of maps to highlight the history, ecology, diverse uses, and neighbourhood context of the study area:















Please post any questions or comments you may have below, and be sure to visit the Ribbon Project website to learn more!
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