Dr. Monica Campbell, champion for people on foot and on bike

Welcome to 2014! May we actually get some real, protected infrastructure this year!

At the end of last year I ruffled some Vehicular Cyclists' feathers by posting this: Avid Cyclists as policy makers are going extinct and they've no one else to blame but themselves (I still stand behind my analysis though I would probably now use the more accurate label of "Vehicular Cyclists" to better reflect the ideology and not just people cycling in car traffic because they have no other choice). Buried in the controversy was my mention of Dr. Monica Campbell, Director of Healthy Public Policy at Toronto Public Health, who had won an award at the 2013 Toronto Bike Awards.

(Photo: TCAT. From left, Dr. Monica Campbell, Nancy Smith Lea of TCAT)

Dr. Campbell is no Lance Armstrong. This is something which Vehicular Cycling seemingly holds as a prerequisite for a transportation planner - as in "If we all just rode at top speed all the time and never made errors then we'll be perfectly safe in car traffic". She is not that kind of expert, but one who knows how to bring science to the transportation planning profession; a profession that has notoriously avoided dealing with most injuries, deaths and health impacts such as obesity and asthma that are a direct result of our car fetish society.

The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, who presented the award, describes Dr. Campbell's work thusly:

Dr. Campbell has city-wide responsibility for ensuring the development of evidence-informed public policies that best protect the health of Toronto residents. She was selected by a majority vote of the TCAT steering committee for her leadership in demonstrating the link between active transportation and health and for spearheading numerous evidence-based initiatives within Toronto Public Health to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in Toronto.

Under her leadership, Toronto Public Health has been producing reports such as the recent report "Improving Safety for Bicycle Commuters in Toronto" and has become more active in creating safety guidelines for cyclists and pedestrians (something which you'd think would have already been a higher priority for Transportation Services).

Some of the safety items that Public Health is pushing for, for which most cyclists will be pleased to have:

  • making construction zones safer for cyclists
  • stop using bike lanes for "storage"
  • review the "Watch for Bikes" by-law and improve it
  • advocate for side guards on trucks (only the feds can implement this but have been dragging their feet for years)
  • improve safety of cyclists at intersections

Her work, I think, is a signal that the underbelly of our municipal government is slowly understanding the new reality where fighting obesity and improving the safety and the comfort level of citizens is more important than obsessing about making cars go faster. Thank you Dr. Campbell for helping to make Toronto more equitable, safer, healthier and more fun in 2014.

Comments

I sure being a vehicular cyclist does not mean "... just ride at top speed all the time..."

It means riding with a certain amount of confidence, awareness and skill, attributes that are also necessary to operate a car safely.

What ruffles my feathers is the opinion that bicycle infrastructure is inadequate unless it is made specifically to accomodate those who cannot ride with confidence, awareness and skill. In Toronto's case, it over-complicates the process of adding bike lanes by bogging it down with studies and committees.

Just paint some white lines and be done with it.

Don't you know we must have an Environmental Assessment first? Which would cost more than the paint.

Yes because some paint is going to harm the environment more than the other paint? how about the salt? leaking fluids? car emissions? wait I get it we may affect the environment of the automobile!

SharkDancing @SharkDancing 9 Jan

We never say lets pilot a road over here for cars so why do we accept the notion bike lanes are a pilot project for bikes ‪#‎TOpoli‬ ‪#‎BikeTO‬

There have been instants, especially in the U.S., where environmental assessments were used to delay and prolong the implementation of bike paths and/or lanes. See www.streetsblog.org/2008/11/28/sf-responds-to-bike-injunct... for an example, where they had to produce a 1,353 page report before going ahead.