Municipality: Town of Ajax Implementation: 2010-03-29
Policy Name: Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan Contact: Erica Warsh
Department: Planning and Development Services Title: Active Transportation Coordinator
Focus:
Community profile:

  • Ajax is located in Durham Region, east of the City of Toronto covering a land area of 67.07 square kilometers.
  • In 2011, the population of Ajax was 109,600; population is expected to increase by 52% by 2031.
  • It is bisected by the major Highway 401 running east-west. Five streets allow transportation north-south by crossing over or under Highway 401.
  • Public transportation is provided by Durham Region Transit and GO Transit offers regional transit in the GTA.
  • Six kilometers of publicly owned waterfront accessible to the public totalling 150 hectares.
  • Ajax’s park system encompasses 600 hectares and 74 kilometers of pathways.
  • Ajax currently has over 80 kilometers in multi-use trails.
  • 95% of businesses are Small Medium Enterprises.

Short Description:

Plan for the implementation and promotion of active transportation infrastructure in Ajax and improving the viability of non-automobile mobility choices. Seeks to address the mobility needs of existing and future populations and employment growth within the Municipality in a manner that is consistent with municipal sustainability objectives.

Background:

  • In December 2007, Ajax Town Council approved the Transportation Master Plan Update (TMP). The TMP is long-term strategic document that seeks to address future population and employment growth within the Municipality and the Region in a manner that is sustainable with respect to the environment, the economy and the community.
  • The TMP recommended a multi-modal vision for the Town, one in which future travel demand is managed through a combination of new infrastructure, interconnected transit and a network of bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The TMP was again updated in March of 2013, reaffirming the need for a multi-modal approach to transportation demand management and planning.
  • Providing Ajax residents with more travel options and, in particular, promoting cycling and walking as a viable alternative to driving, enhances the Town's competitveness in attracting and retaining more economic development in the Town.

Through the completion of a Walking and Cycling Plan, Ajax will:

  • Improve the safety of walking and cycling
  • Encourage active transportation
  • Improve the quality of life, health and wellness
  • Make it easy to walk along and across streets
  • Make cycling comfortable on roads
  • Shift behaviour to active transportation
  • Develop an integrated network, supportive policies, programs and guidelines

Step by Step Process:

  • In 2000, the Town of Ajax produced its first Transportation Master Plan (TMP) to address transportation requirements up to 2021.
  • The Plan was updated in 2007 and again in 2013 to address legislative changes and growth within the Town based on the transportation needs for the 2016, 2021, 2026, and 2031 horizon years.
  • Based on the traffic forecasts and analysis of current and future conditions, Ajax created a problem statement summarizing the transportation challenges.
  • Long term strategic options were considered to address the problem statement and Ajax evaluated these alternatives finally choosing to implement a “Proactive Multi-Modal Strategy” that would represent a sustainable, long-term transportation strategy that would manage and reduce the growth in traffic.
  • In 2007, Council approved an update to the TMP which was updated again in 2013.         
  • In 2010 the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan was approved.
  • Phase 1 of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan captured the attitudes and perceptions of residents and stakeholders to help create a vision and thus, a framework for Phase 2 of the Plan. This included reviewing previous studies and conducting a workshop with stakeholders.
  • Phase 2 conducted public workshops, reviews of best practices, consultation with Town staff, and an analysis of current conditions, this phase of the plan involved developing a cycling and pedestrian network, design guidelines, behavioural shift strategies, and a signage strategy, as well as policy and program recommendations.
  • Phase 3 involved detailing estimated costs for the various network components as well as recommendations related to implementation phasing. This process was guided by staff from several departments at the Town, including Planning and Development Services, Operations and Environmental Services, and Recreation and Culture, and Finance, as well as Mayor Parish and Council members.
  • With the release of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan in 2010, the Town then integrated the active transportation and new road classification criteria into the Town’s Official Plan to systematically consider and plan for the needs of pedestrian and cyclists until 2031. This was completed through Amendment No. 40 to the Town of Ajax Official Plan.

Primary Drivers:

The 2007 Transportation Master Plan Update identified the need for a Proactive Multi-Modal Strategy to deal with the growing demands on the Town’s transportation system, stemming from historic growth in the Town, the Town’s central location in the growing Region and lengthening commuting times which reduce competitiveness due to delays from congestion. It articulates the need for the Town to provide for a range of travel options beyond the private automobile.

Secondary Drivers:

The municipal objective of improving environmental sustainability and reducing environmental impacts of transportation users and transportation facilities by promoting alternative modes of travel, reduced emissions and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.

Enablers:

Municipal gas tax funding source for the provision of active transportation facilities. 

Champions:

Steve Parish, Mayor is a known cycling advocate and a recognized champion for cycling

 

Joanne Dies, Councillor Ward 3 is a cycling promoter

Obstacles:

 

  • Rapid population growth projected for the Town of Ajax: 52% by 2031.
  • Employment also projected to increase by 117% by 2031.
  • Arterial road capacity and congestion problems.
  • Hwy 401 bisects the Town and poses barriers to active transportation as well as by the form of development it encourages.

Opportunities:

  • Strong leadership from Council.
  • An existing trail network that is well-used.
  • Manageable distances within the Town and neighbourhoods for walking and cycling.
  • Relationships established with youth and other government agencies.
  • A multi-modal transit hub where bicycle parking is in demand.

Obstacles:

·         The Town of Ajax is affected by overall growth and travel patterns of Durham Region due to its central location in the region

 

·         Pedestrian and bicycle network connectivity is not as high of a priority within neighbouring jurisdictions or the Region.  

Opportunities:

Methods and approaches toward network implementation within areas in southwestern Ontario are looked upon as ‘best practice’ examples. 

Outcome:

The Town has added additional lane kilometres of bicycle lanes and shared route facilities throughout the Town. Sidewalk and pathway connectivity projects are implemented through the Town’s annual budget exercise. Public buy-in for active transportation is improving

Lessons Learned:

·         Tough choices have to be made regarding when and where a bike lane can or cannot go in. There was a lot of time and consideration given to the effects of bike lanes etc on on-street parking and business. The Plan is at quite a high level, if it were more specific, perhaps time could have been saved in this area.

 

·         Importance of stakeholder input. Cycling community was active from the outset. Public only became involved when it involved their street. A lot of outreach and education was required to bring public up to speed on the issue. For example, getting information out there on the difference between a sharrow and a bike lane was very important.

Applicability Across Ontario:

Good template for Ontario municipalities of a similar size. If municipalities are committed to developing and Active Transportation network, this is a good first step for them. It provides the necessary ingredients to get moving. It also contains a costing element that is useful. 

Similar Tools Used by Other Municipalities:

Used some documentation from Thunder Bay, City of Toronto, Portland (Or), especially around education and information.

Further Information:

Erica Warsh, Active Transportation Coordinator, 905-619-2529 ext. 3238

Town of Ajax
http://www.ajax.ca/en/index.asp

Ajax Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan
http://www.ajax.ca/en/doingbusinessinajax/PedBicycleMP.asp

Ajax Transportation Master Plan Update

http://www.ajax.ca/en/doingbusinessinajax/resources/ajaxtransportationmasterplanupdate.pdf

Ajax Accessibility Plan

 

http://www.ajax.ca/en/exploreoutdoors/resources/accessibilityplan2011.pdf

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Additional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan Scan Update Questions: No need to answer all of these. Whatever information you may have regarding the below questions would be extremely useful to other jurisdictions.

1.     Were there any community groups that were engaged in the development and/implementation of the Plan? Ajax Trails Committee, Durham District School Board, Durham Region Health Department, Durham Region Planning Department, Citizens, Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Metrolinx, City of Pickering, TRCA

2.     Has there been any discussion regarding how a Complete Streets Policy may fit in with the goals of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan? If so, what steps have been taken in developing a Complete Streets policy?

The Town of Ajax endorsed a Complete Streets policy in February, 2013 through the Transportation Master Plan Update. The principles of Complete Streets are already included through Amendment No. 40 to the Town of Ajax Official Plan.

3.     Have you developed any road or trail standards that aim to improve pedestrian and bicycling opportunities and infrastructure?  The Town has included on-road cycling infrastructure in the design of roads projects including Audley Road. Bicycle Lanes have been incorporated in the Church Street Improvements Environmental Assessment. The Town adopted Complete Street policies through the Transportation Master Plan Update in February, 2013.

 

 

4.     Has your jurisdiction undertaken any pedestrian and cycling counts, if so how did you undertake them? What outcomes resulted from the counts?
We currently have one embedded cycling counter located on Fairall Street in Ajax. This is a major cycling route with bike lanes that leads to the Ajax GO Station. The counter was installed in September of 2010 and collects data in 15 minute intervals. That data is then transferred to an online web-server that can be used to analyze the counts. The counts have showed that use of this particular bike lane drops off throughout the winter months but is heavily used in the spring, summer and fall.

 

5.     What other transportation plans has your jurisdiction developed? Can you tell us a bit about how your jurisdiction has addressed the inter-connectivity between your various transportation plans?
The Town has completed its Transportation Master Plan Update in February, 2013. The Town has also completed its Official Plan Review, and through OPA 40, has completely revised its transportation policies which now includes policies on Active Transportation stemming from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan.

 

6.     What staff resources do you have allocated to the implementation of your bicycle and pedestrian plan? How many staff? Overall budget? % of total transportation budget allocated to active transportation?
The Town has recently hired an Active Transportation Coordinator for plan implementation, communication and outreach. The Town also uses staff from Operations and Environmental Services and a Landscape Architect to implement specific active transportation projects.

 

7.     Has your jurisdiction considered aging populations in the bicycle and pedestrian plan and if so what resulted from that consideration? Yes, we have an accessibility plan, linked to below, that outlines way to ensure inclusive design for all road users.

8.     Has your jurisdiction considered low-powered vehicles (ex. E-bikes)? If so how are they being integrated?

As a Town, we are looking into the integration of e-bikes to ensure the safety of all road and trail users. We currently consider e-bikes to be vehicles and they are not currently allowed on our trail system. In the future we will undertake an educational campaign regarding the appropriate use of e-bikes.

9.     Has your jurisdiction encountered any safety issues? Vandalism? If so how have your addressed them?

When vandalism occurs and is reported it is removed as quickly as possible.

10.  Is your municipality a Smart Commute employer? If so if and how does that inter-act with the Pedestrian and Bicycle Plans? Yes, we are a smart commute employer. Making improvements to the network will help increase the number of employees who participate.

 

11.  Does your municipality have any pedestrian and bicycling certifications? Bike Friendly Community? We are a Bronze Level Bike Friendly Community

12.  How does your municipality use bikes? ex – Police on bikes, by-laws?

Durham Regional Police Service has a bike unit in the spring and summer months that patrol the Town on their bicycles. They also attend some public events to promote cycling safety and educated the public on proper cycling practices.

 

13.  Has your jurisdictional considered the increasing levels of health concerns (ex. Increasing obesity levels among children)? If so what resulted from the consideration? How has this factored into the plan?)

Obesity levels are always a concern and can be combated by increasing levels of active transportation but also through educating children and adults about the health benefits of staying active. This messaging is being incorporated into the Active and Safe Routes to School program and is also expressed on the Town’s website. The Town also has an Active Living Coordinator who also promotes active lifestyles to residents.

 

Is your jurisdiction providing programs regarding the environment and transportation (ex.  bike to work/school programs, carpool etc). We are initiating an Active and Safe Routes to School program as a pilot project in one of our elementary schools this year. We hope to expand to other schools throughout the municipality in the future.