In 2021, the Ontario Traffic Council (OTC) and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has released its highly anticipated update for Ontario Traffic Manual Book 18: Cycling Facilities (commonly referred to as “Book 18”). Although the first version of this guide, published in 2013, played a key role in the growth of cycling infrastructure in Ontario, it was quickly overtaken by the rapid pace of change in the design of cycling facilities and for whom they are used. are designed.
Ten years ago, designers may have been content to include a painted bike path on a major thoroughfare. Today it is recognized that this only appeals to a small minority of people interested in cycling and that different approaches are needed to appeal to a wider group of ‘interested but concerned’ users.
The new 387-page guide has plenty of fresh and updated content, making it imperative that new guidelines are shared widely and quickly. To support this, WSP has been contracted by the CTO to run a series of online training sessions. Since November 2021, WSP staff have trained over 500 professionals through 10 virtual sessions, including people from Chatham-Kent, Sudbury, Ottawa, Burlington and everywhere in between.
We put a lot of effort into developing the content of this training, but the most important thing was the effort we put into making it engaging, interesting and even fun!
Make it interactive
To get the most out of the “virtual” platform, our team created the course to maximize engagement, using a host of tools, apps, and resources.
- Get to know people with Mentimeter: we started each session with a series of questions about where people are from and their experience of cycling infrastructure. It was also a great way to get a feel for the room and what people were most concerned about.
- Using the Zoom chat feature: it allowed people who might be too shy to raise their hands to ask questions, and people to share comments casually. It also allowed our instructors who didn’t show up to stay engaged and answer questions without interrupting the flow of the training, or verbally respond to questions when there was a break in the content.
- Embed short videos throughout: to complement our slides, we showed a series of videos to reinforce the content, covering topics such as Continuous sidewalks, Bike boxesand Protected cycle paths.
- Use the quiz as a tool to maximize participation: we added some basic multiple-choice questions throughout the training and expected at least 80% of our participants to answer. It was also a great way to make sure people were always paying attention!
People learn by doing
People can only absorb so much knowledge in one session, so we made sure our training included opportunities for participants to “get their toes wet” with a few exercises. It’s normal for some people to be more confident or willing to speak up than others, so we’ve adjusted our approach for each session to meet people where they are, either by making it easier for everyone to participate or by adopting more of a tutorial-based approach.
- Exercise #1: The design user included showing a series of short first-person videos of someone cycling over different types of infrastructure. Participants use the Zoom chat to identify the “weak points” of each video and are invited at the end to vote on the infrastructure that would suit the “design cyclist”.
- Exercise #2: Selection of facilities presented people with a given street in a rural or urban context and asked participants to choose the most appropriate type of cycling facility based on advice from Book 18. We then collaboratively developed a cross-section using the street mix tool.
- Exercise #3: Intersection Design was the most difficult of all, where we provided an example of an intersection and collaboratively identified issues and constraints and proposed a design approach. Twenty minutes isn’t nearly enough for a full intersection design, but we often end up with at least one corner developed with some ideas at the end.
- Exercise #4: What not to do was our “final quiz” where we playfully showed our participants photos of really dodgy cycling infrastructure from around the world and asked them to identify what’s wrong (like a narrow bike path right next to a channel – yuck!). It was a great light way to end the lesson.
Even after preparing and delivering our first training session, course development was far from complete.
- Regular debriefings after the sessions: we shared notes and thought about what could be improved, paying attention to where the audience seemed to fall asleep, where we felt like we were talking too much.
- Time tracking: We kept a time budget for each module, which allowed us to provide a more accurate schedule and avoid delays. The last thing people want is a workout eating away at their lunch!
- Adjust to people’s interests: we started each session with an open-ended question about what people are looking to get out of the training, which allowed us to tackle hot topics and spend more time on certain sections if needed.
What were people thinking?
The most rewarding part of teaching is knowing that you have helped share knowledge and skills with others. Our participants were happy to share how much they enjoyed each session. Here are some of those comments: