Two Words For Better Cities: Pedestrians First!

Photo courtesy Brockville Tourism (by David Mackie)
Photo courtesy Brockville Tourism (by David Mackie)

Here’s a thorough exploration of making cities more livable, from the Knight Foundation, starting from the simple principle of “pedestrians first”.  The article explores several pillars: walkability, bikeability, public spaces and public transit – all key to building more vibrant communities. Read more here.

And here’s a FastCo article on the same report.

Smart Discussions About Road Safety For All

visionzeroThis article from Toronto applies to all communities.  The conversations around road safety – for all road users in the community, from 8 to 80, have a number of common elements. These are worth knowing and remembering, and quizzing your municipal Council about.  Ask them when we can adopt a Vision Zero program, for instance.  If they don’t know what any of these elements are, they’re not up to date with cities more progressive and attractive. Read more here.

Walk Friendly Communities Showcase

WalkFriendly1“Imagine yourself walking safely and conveniently from your home to work, shopping and entertainment. En route to these destinations on any given day you may meet neighbours walking their children to school, stop for a coffee at your favourite shop and visit with the owner, rest on a bench overlooking a garden with flowers blooming, and enjoy the public art along the way. You not only arrive relaxed, you take pleasure in the journey.”

Since the Walk Friendly Community program launch in 2013, ten Ontario communities, small to large, have received their Walk Friendly accreditation following an evaluation process similar to that for Bike Friendly Community.  There are currently no efforts underway in Brockville to achieve this recognition.

The embedded pdf file provides a look at the program and highlights for each of the designated communities.

WFO-Showcase-Mar-2015-final-low-res-for-web

News: Sudbury Adopts New PXO Standards

Three of four different styles of PXO
Three of four different styles of PXO (Source: MTO)

News from Sudbury where repeated calls for safer pedestrian crossings (PXO’s) is being met by plans that will see 17 new PXO’s installed, all using variations of the new designs legitimized last year by MTO in Bill 31. This is something Brockville needs too – along King St, along Water St, and at all Brock Trail road crossings.  Read Sudbury article.
See here for MTO descriptions of crossovers and new laws.

Walkability Is About The Experience

Photo courtesy Brockville Tourism (by David Mackie)
Photo courtesy Brockville Tourism (by David Mackie)

“Improving walkability means that communities are created or enhanced to make it safe and easy to walk and that pedestrian activity is encouraged for all people. The purpose of the Call to Action is to increase walking across the United States by calling for improved access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll and by creating a culture that supports these activities for people of all ages and abilities.” This came from the US Surgeon General a few months ago, underscoring the need to create city spaces that encourage walking.  Continue reading “Walkability Is About The Experience”

News: Active School Travel Continues to Decline

ASRS1As reported by Metrolinx in their quinquennial review of school travel habits, active travel to school continues to decline.  This bodes poorly for kids’ current and future physical and mental health, as well as their academic performance.  Read article here.

In Lanark, Leeds & Grenville, a partnership among UCDSB, the Health Unit and various police forces, school parent groups and communities is helping to grow momentum around active and safe routes to school.
Read more here.

News: Research shows neighbourhood design linked with activity levels

IMG_2346E1cC2“Design of urban environments has the potential to contribute substantially to physical activity. Similarity of findings across cities suggests the promise of engaging urban planning, transportation, and parks sectors in efforts to reduce the health burden of the global physical inactivity pandemic.”

This cross-sectional study measured the activity of 7,000 individuals in 14 cities around the world, finding strong a strong link between the walkability of the urban environment, and people’s everyday activity levels.

Read article here, and the study abstract here.

Belleville extends active transportation network to industrial development

Belleville, a city of 49,000, will be extending its network of bike lanes, multi-use paths and sidewalks through their North East Industrial Park. “The bike lanes, [Ray Ford, manager of engineering] said, are designed for commuters who want the fastest route to and from work, which is typically on the road. The multi-use paths present more of a ‘recreational experience.’ ‘We’re trying to match the needs of the community to the infrastructure we’re building, he said.”  Read article here.

Distracted walking a rising cause of injury

HeadsUpUsing a mobile device for texting and talking is quickly becoming the leading factor in injuries incurred while walking, according to a recently published study using data from 2005 to 2010. While the article reveals some approaches that are novel and almost funny but for the injury-prone nature of the behaviour, they suggest that as with other things, role modelling is needed. Parents – teaching kids to “look both ways” is just the beginning!
Read more here

The call for healthier school travel

Much research has been done for the health NoIdlingand learning benefits of walking or cycling to school. It’s also shown that a significant “rush hour” traffic load is comprised of people driving kids to school, most often very short distances.  Yet recently published research delves into the question of how harmful vehicle emissions are for young minds.

Continue reading “The call for healthier school travel”

Improving walkability of winter cities

WinterWalk
Photo from SHAPE Alberta Winter Walk Day, 2010

“Walkability is achieved at the scale of the neighborhood” the author of this article says, writing about many ways that neighbourhoods (and small cities!) can become more walkable, encouraging more people to walk more often.  The benefits are diverse, including mental and physical health, social “community” and economic boost. Read more