In Brockville we have committed volunteer groups and committees of council, and we have an activity-hungry populace. Yet as long as we have a city council with a passive-aggressive stance on becoming walk-friendly and bike-friendly (and age-friendly and youth-friendly), we will make little progress.
“If we want healthier communities, we must make it easier for individuals to feel good about physical activity in the context of their own lives. We are more likely to walk to services in our community if we have food security and appropriate shoes. We are more likely to attempt a new activity if we have the literacy and information centre to understand it better. We are more likely bike to work if we feel safe and comfortable in accessing our route. We are more likely to comply with exercises when values and promotions of our community support this.“
“The evidence shows us behaviour stems from the social, the economic and the political, much more so than from the personal.”
Here’s a beautifully written essay on “the art of the stroll”.
Walking is a slow and porous experience. The words we use to describe it—meandering, sauntering, strolling—have their own leisurely and gentle cadence and suggest a sort of unhurried enjoyment. But to walk is also to be vulnerable: it forces us into physical interaction with surrounding streets, homes, and people. This can delay us, annoy us, even put us in danger. But it connects us to community in a way that cars never can.
“Parents who fear that kids in organized sport spend less time on just-for-fun activities can take heart in a new study by researchers at McMaster University and the University of Toronto.
“Not only did the study find those kids embraced free play, it found they generally engaged in more physical activity on their own than those who were not in organized sport.
“Lead author John Cairney, a professor at U of T’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, says the findings debunk commonly held fears that structured sport comes at the expense of free play.
“He suspects that’s because children who are naturally inclined to enjoy organized sport are simply active kids.
“But he says it could also be because organized sport teaches the fundamental motor, psychological and social skills that kids need for unsupervised activities such as a pickup game of basketball or playing tag after school.
“The study followed 2,278 children from Grades 4 to 8. Researchers also looked at whether age, sex and socio-economic status played a role.”
A recent article in treehugger.com describes and links to two recently published massive studies that once again confirm and add to the body of evidence that cycling is the healthiest way to get around and that investing in ways to encourage and allow more people to make the choice to ride a bike more often yields a large payback to society.
Active Brockville encourages all forms of active living, from incorporating active modes of transportation into everyday living, to active recreational and competitive pursuits. An open water swimming area at St. Lawrence Park is currently in the proposal stage. This would be an area suitable for open water training or recreational swimming, protected from motorized boat traffic. If you are interested in seeing the draft proposal, helping to develop it further, or helping to champion this initiative, please send a “comment” with your email address (your email information will not be exposed) and I’ll be in touch. …alan
“The evidence for why we should actively transport ourselves in the city is mounting, but there are some technicalities to work out. You want to get yourself around under your own steam, but where do you start? It can seem a bit daunting to change habits and possibly routes. Thankfully, we live in an era with lots of tools at our fingertips that can help us out.” And with that, a blogger from Calgary explains how she adopted more active ways of getting around the city with her kids and integrated that activity into everyday life. Read more here.
For a more complete how-to as you plan your transition to having more fun every day by walking and biking, check out Vélo Québec’s “ABC’s of Active Transportation“.
The latest newsletter from Green Communities Canada on Active School Travel highlights funding for community projects, an updated website, and updates on bike to school week, a seminar on air pollution hazards around drop-off zones, and more. Check out the newsletter here, where you can also subscribe for updates.
As more cities try to improve walkability–from car-free “superblocks” in Barcelona to heat-protected walkways in Dubai–a new report outlines the reasons behind the shift, the actions that cities can take to move away from a car-centric world, and why walkability matters. Read more here.
It’s Spring, and with Spring comes the annual round of Bike Summits to rejuvenate and re-stoke our interest in working for public roads that better serve the needs of the general public.
All of the summits draw elected representatives, professionals, advocates and other interested parties from public works, transportation, planning, consulting, economic development, education, tourism, recreation and other disciplines together.
The linked article nicely summarizes the individual and population health benefits accruing from introducing even moderate amounts of cycling into everyday travel. On a population basis, it’s no surprise that every $1 invested in cycling facilities that encourage more people to ride more often results in health care cost reductions of $3 – $20 per annum down the road. Read more here.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, in her just-released report, calls for better design and delivery of supports and infrastructure for active mobility in our built environment as one key and immediately actionable way to stem the growing twin scourges of obesity and inactivity. These are gateway conditions leading to diseases that sap quality of life, raise health care costs, and drain economic productivity.
The municipal leaders in this video understand the health and social benefits of parks and trails, as well as their direct contribution to economic development – attracting and retaining businesses, talent and families.
City parks are increasingly being viewed as critical community infrastructure – the lungs of the community. Shared-use trails running through and connecting them are the circulatory system. Together, they provide life – the social, health and transportation means to a more vital city.
Do your councilors understand this? Ask them! The municipal leaders in this video certainly do!
Andre Picards’ opinion piece in the Globe and Mail summarizes quite nicely several years of research and case studies on the economic and health benefits of designing cities to be more walkable. His short and insightful piece summarizes our current state well: “Walking has to become a lever for social change, big and small – for everything from healthier neighbourhoods to a more sustainable planet – and walkability needs to be imbued into the DNA of urban planning.” Read the article here.
Eight national health organizations are calling on the federal government to develop and implement an active transportation strategy for Canada, citing research that links moderate amounts of exercise woven into the activities of daily living with significant reductions in the instance and severity of several chronic diseases and their associated healthcare costs. Read the article here.
One of the best ways to help your kids be healthier is to be active with them. And one of the easiest ways for anyone to get more active is to weave activity into everyday activities like, say, biking to school. It’s well established that kids who walk, run, ride, or roll to school arrive more refreshed and ready to learn, and that translates to improved performance. It’s also well-established that kids of parents who engage with them in activities are more likely to be active on their own and develop a more active lifestyle. With all that in mind, if you’re interested in learning how to gear up for that school journey with your kids by bike this article provides some great tips. Read more here.
As Doctors for Safe Cycling point out in this recent article in the Toronto Star, “Cycling is very effective in promoting good physical and mental health, and it’s infrastructure like protected lanes that makes widespread bike use possible.”
StatsCan reports that fully 41% of Canadians over the age of 12 are at least occasional cyclists now, and cites the evidence that, “The health benefits of physical activity, including cycling, are widely recognized. In an era when nearly a third of children and youth and just under two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, cycling for leisure or transport is a valuable form of exercise. Cycling is also good for the environment ― commuting by bicycle helps to alleviate road congestion and noise pollution and reduces emissions.”
It’s time for Brockville to join the 21st century and work to become bicycle friendly. There will always be naysayers and NIMBYs who fight to keep streets unsafe, children at risk and property values depressed, but it’s time to move ahead and create a better Brockville.
Two recent articles on walk-friendly communities made recent note. The first is a CBC piece on Sudbury’s progress toward becoming walk-friendly, with development on several fronts. As Sudbury’s active transportation coordinator says, “We know younger generations are driving less, and there’s more interest in living a sustainable lifestyle. So I do believe it’s to the city’s benefit to invest in cycling and walking, to attract people to come here, live here, work here and start families here.” Read that article here.
A second article, from Public Health Ontario, highlights a recently published study that investigated the health benefits of integrating walking into everyday activity. This isn’t the first study in this area and it won’t be the last as the evidence continues to mount that designing walkability into our urban landscape results in healthier lifestyles. Of course, that in turn reduces future healthcare costs. “In this age group [30-44], people in the most walkable neighbourhoods averaged almost 15 minutes per day more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity than people in the least walkable neighbourhoods.” Read that article here.