Guest post by Nancy Smith Lea
On Sep 12, 2013, the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) released a research report called “The Other 25%: Active Transportation Investment and The Big Move”.
The Big Move is a 25-year, $50-billion plan produced by Metrolinx, an agency of the Government of Ontario, to transform regional transportation throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). Over $16 billion of the $50 billion has already been allocated, primarily for transit expansion projects. The other $34 billion is allocated to the Next Wave projects, of which Metrolinx’s Investment Strategy is committing 75% to regional transit expansion and 25% to other local transportation projects, including walking and cycling infrastructure.
TCAT’s report reveals that while the development and costing of Next Wave transit projects is well underway, the “other 25%” is not yet well articulated. The lack of regional coordination around active transportation planning and investment is identified as the most significant problem to be tackled.
The report makes a strong case for dedicated investment in active transportation as a component of The Big Move. On a typical weekday, approximately 47% of car trips in a 24-hour period in the GTHA are less than 5 km. A significant portion of these short trips could easily be replaced by cycling or walking if the right infrastructure was in place.
Active transportation projects represent a small proportion of transportation infrastructure costs yet offer substantial opportunities for environmental, health, and economic benefits.
The report also discusses the current status of regional active transportation planning in the GTHA, and highlights best practices in other jurisdictions. A series of next steps are recommended to ensure that coordinated planning and investment in cycling and walking networks are included in the next phase of the regional transportation plan.
This is a pivotal moment for active transportation in the GTHA. Are we prepared to step up to the challenge?
The report was produced by TCAT and Moving Right Along with funding generously provided by a grant from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund.
Nancy Smith Lea is the Director of the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, a project of Clean Air Partnership,