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.
In Brockville, our Brock Trail provides opportunities for a leisurely walk or roll in a green space, away from the noise and smell of the roads. Community trails like the Brock Trail also offer the opportunity to connect with friends and neighbours, and meet new friends. “Hike with Mike” is an opportunity created to encourage just that, on June 16 at 9 AM, starting at the trailhead beside Westminster Public School. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Trail to downtown, where you can tour the Tunnel or visit the Farmers Market for a well-earned snack. For details, on the attached poster.
Also in planning, are some leisurely, family-friendly “slow rides” along the trail. On your bike, you will be able to meet up with the group at various times and places along the Trail, starting at Laurier Blvd and ending downtown at the Farmers Market, once again for that well-earned snack. Stay tuned for more info.
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.
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.
Across North America, walking activity is on the upswing, as are the follow-on benefits. This article provides illustrative stories, case studies and current research. Making cities more walk friendly is becoming ever more important. Read more here.
This 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.
“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.
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.
Driving while distracted continues to grow demand for emergency response, lawyers, health care and even undertakers. However, despite the hue and cry about the seeming dangers of distracted walking, the evidence does not support a call for changes in behaviour. It turns out walking while texting is self-regulating. Read more.
“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”
As 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.
“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.
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.
As this article in the Recorder and Times explains, the recently installed bridge won’t be open until the trail segments at each end are completed per plan and agreement with the property owner.
See: Bridge Traffic Waits For Spring by Ronald Zajac
Using 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
Much research has been done for the health and 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.
“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
Brockville’s Official Plan 2009, preceded by public workshops and reviews, includes both prescription and guidance for developing an active transportation network in the city. That network includes both the Brock Trail and an on-road cycling network. Continue reading “Brockville’s Official Plan”