HUB Cycling's Feedback on Permanent Public Transit Funding
November 7, 2022
The following letter was written by HUB Cycling and sent to Infrastructure Canada (firstname.lastname@example.org) regarding permanent public transit funding:
A permanent transit fund that includes money for active transportation is a welcome tool to encourage more sustainable transportation choices and reduce Canada’s reliance on fossil fuels. HUB Cycling supports the permanent transit fund and is happy to provide suggestions on how to structure and implement the fund to achieve sustainability, accessibility, and inclusion goals. We’ve centred our recommendations around the main discussion areas outlined on the consultation web page.
Transit and active transportation should be as inclusive and open to as many people as possible.
- People using a variety of devices (including wheelchairs, e-scooters, strollers, e-bikes, and other micromobility devices) should be able to easily use transit with their device or have a safe and secure place to lock it.
- Active transportation networks, including walking and cycling paths, should seamlessly connect and integrate into transit hubs (e.g. transit stations), allowing people of all ages and abilities to safely and comfortably access transit.
- Active transportation facilities should be wide enough to be accessible to a number of different users, including people with recumbent bikes, cargo bikes, bikes with trailers, and mobility scooters. The use of bollards should be limited.
- Wide, accessible, and comfortable facilities will also help future-proof the network and accommodate different active transportation modes and speeds, including the increasing number of micromobility and e-assist devices.
Housing supply and affordability
New multi-family housing should include provisions for end-of-trip facilities for active transportation users.
- Housing should be carefully integrated into the community, allowing easy access to rapid and reliable transit, high-quality cycling and mobility lanes, and walkable, mixed-use developments. This will allow residents to easily forego owning a car, saving upwards of $8,600 per year on vehicle ownership costs1.
- New housing starts, especially those built close to transit and/or active transportation networks, should have secure storage for active transportation devices. This makes it much easier for people to safely and conveniently store their micromobility devices where they live, and easily connect to the active transportation network or transit for their daily needs.
New housing should unbundle parking from the cost of housing:
- Parking is over-supplied in many current housing developments, which also adds a financial burden to the housing cost 2. While the cost of parking stalls varies across the country, assuming a conservative cost of $25,000 per spot would add $2,500,000 to a development with 100 parking stalls. This increases the cost to either buy or rent a unit while subsidizing vehicle ownership and inducing more driving.
- Unbundling parking reduces the cost of housing while allowing the cost of those parking spots to be paid for by those actually using them. Residents who may have used a ‘free’ parking spot included with their unit may well choose to walk, roll, cycle, take transit, and use car-share instead of paying for the actual cost of that spot.
A clean and healthy environment
Transit hubs and stations should be fully integrated with the active transportation network.
- Bikes and other micromobility devices provide door-to-door convenience for shorter trips. Transit makes longer trips easy, but without the ease of door-to-door connections. Allowing for the integration of active transportation/micromobility and transit unlocks a viable alternative to the car for long-distance and door-to-door travel - reducing greenhouse gasses and the reliance on fossil fuels.
- A seamless integration between transit and micromobility can triple the catchment area compared to just walking. A transit hub could have a catchment area of 1 kilometre for people walking, which increases to 3 kilometres or more for cycling and other micromobility devices.
- Transit stations should be a hub for secure parking for active transportation and shared mobility devices (e-scooters, e-bikes, regular bikes) to integrate active transportation and transit and allow for seamless first-mile/last-mile connections.
- At transportation hubs, provide space for shared devices (bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters), and end-of-trip facilities, including secure parking and charging outlets that accommodate different-sized active transportation devices, such as cargo bikes, bike trailers, and e-assist devices.
Funding should be provided to include longer active transportation/cycling routes across jurisdictions.
- These ‘cycle highways’ take advantage of the rise in e-mobility, enabling longer distance trips, providing a draw for the booming business of cycle tourism, and making travel easier by active transportation - for both long and short trips.
- Inter-regional connections (e.g. cycle highways that are protected, paved, lit, direct, and with few intersections) should be included to allow longer distance travel between important destinations and facilitate commuting, recreation, and tourism. These connections will link key destinations.
Stronger coordination and planning
Project funding should specify up front the need for multimodal elements, unified guiding principles, and project coordination across various project teams.
- Project guiding principles are key, but can often be lost through the different stages of the project and different project teams and managers. Project guiding principles need to be integrated into all stages of the project to ensure consistency and contractor compliance.
- New projects should include multimodal elements, which should be stipulated in the guiding principles.
- Project coordination needs to bridge handovers between different project teams/managers and ensure that all of the guiding principles are included in the change-over.
Active transportation and transit advocacy organizations should be included early in project discussions and have a meaningful say over funding decisions.
- There can often be a disconnect between a project design and what will work best on the ground. Community groups, such as active transportation and transit advocates, should be included in the discussion to ensure that funding is the most effective and provides the best results.
- For example, multi-use pathways where people walking, rolling, and cycling share the same pathway may be perceived to accommodate all users. But those same types of paths can be unsafe and uncomfortable when there are a lot of hazards in the pathway (rigid bollards, light posts, etc) or with a lot of possible conflict areas such as driveways and poorly-designed intersections. Involving community groups safeguards against funding low-quality projects that provide little value to the community.
Data collection and use
Develop a Canada-wide data program to track how people move around and how Canada is moving forward in our sustainability and active transportation goals.
- Canada lacks a robust system for collecting transportation data. While the census looks at how people get to work, it only includes the most used mode and only the trip to work, and not other trip types. Census data is also only collected every five years. With the new permanent transit funding rollout, tracking how those funds are shifting travel patterns is essential. Canada should begin regularly collecting travel data across the country or empowering and funding the provinces to do so.
Future-proof public transit investments
Include provisions for micromobility, shared mobility, and active transportation elements in transit facilities to ensure that emerging modes can be accommodated.
- There are several new types of micromobility, including electrified bikes, scooters, skateboards, and uni-cycles. Scooters and bikes, both regular and electric, are also part of the rapidly-growing shared market. Transit facilities and active transportation infrastructure need to consider how people using these devices will access transit and the need for electrical outlets for shared stations and individual users.
1 Global News. Own a car? You won’t believe how much that’s costing you every year. 2017.
2 Donald Shoup. The High Cost of Free Parking. 2017.