Innovative Green Transportation Infrastructure in Canada
Cities across Canada, and around the world, are working hard to adopt more sustainable operations strategies. Opportunities exist everywhere for greening up infrastructure, from water and waste management systems to parks and municipal maintenance services.
Many towns and cities start by implementing green initiatives in their transportation infrastructure. There are many examples of ways to make transportation options greener. More sustainable transportation infrastructure can be as simple as designating carpool/HOV lanes or maintaining pathways, or as complex as responsive lighting or stoplight systems that automatically adjust based on traffic levels.
Examples of Green Transportation in Canada
Here are innovative green transportation solutions that a few cities across Canada have embraced.
E-scooters are one of the more recent developments in ride-sharing programs around the world; they’re popular because they are easy to use and can go nearly as fast as a bike, up to 25 km/h. Lime and Bird have set up e-scooter programs in a few Canadian cities. Edmonton and Calgary both have e-scooter rentals for the first time in 2019. There have been challenges with the scooter programs, such as vandalism and improper use. Most notable was the series of targeted vandalism to e-scooter screens/computers in Edmonton. Currently the weather in both cities is also proving to be a challenge as most of the scooters have been taken off the streets due to unsafe riding conditions from ice and snow.
Overall though, the scooter programs were well received and well used by the cities’ residents. Besides their use as transportation, scooters are fun, so they have potential to be a tourism asset as well.
Currently it is not legal to ride an e-scooter anywhere in Ontario. But at the end of November 2019, the province released guidelines that will allow municipalities to participate in a 5-year e-scooter pilot project to measure the success and sustainability of programs. If a municipality chooses to participate, they will have to pass a bylaw allowing e-scooters, with certain restrictions set by the province.
Improving walkability in a community encourages citizens to get outside, improves safety, and can help to reduce traffic congestion. In 2016, Green Communities Canada invited cities with the WALK Friendly Ontario designation to demonstrate the progress of their programs since the original initiative in 2013.
Kingston implemented safety improvements like lowering the speed limit on a main road for pedestrian safety. They also made design changes to streets to improve walking experiences, and upgraded crosswalks.
Ottawa developed a comprehensive plan to improve walkability, addressing safety, design guidelines, current walkability and future plans. They also developed strong policies for improved street and traffic safety to protect elderly and vulnerable road users.
Hamilton improved existing sidewalk infrastructure and added new sidewalks. They also installed pedestrian crossovers, and hosted several walkable street festivals, including one dedicated to forms of active transportation.
Richmond Hill made significant progress on the first phase of a key connector walking and biking trail for commuters.
The city of Brampton, Ontario, is setting benchmarks for green public transit with a plan to switch to zero-emission electric buses. A press release from July 2019 stated: “This will be the largest single global deployment of standardized and fully interoperable battery electric buses and high powered overhead on-route charging systems, with eight electric buses (six by New Flyer Industries and two by Nova Bus) and four charging systems (three by ABB Group and one by Siemens).”
Vancouver is kicking off an ambitious 10-year plan to double the rider capacity of the SkyTrain with more trains and line extensions for high-demand areas.
Stage 2 of Ottawa’s LRT development will add 44 km of new track and 24 new stations. The extension is set to increase ridership, shorten commute times, and connect riders to the international airport.
Shifting towards greener transportation infrastructure doesn’t have to be a monumental undertaking; simple changes can get the ball rolling. Collecting solid market research about what your community’s priorities are can help guide you towards solutions that will promote sustainability, and also satisfy your community members.
Be Prepared for the Challenges Your Community Will Face in the Future