Oftentimes, conversations around road safety and active transportation infrastructure gets limited to the biggest of cities. However, there are many discussions on walking and biking to be had about smaller communities across the country.
Veloroute des Bleuets is a popular cycling destination located approximately 240 kms north of Quebec City. The route is a 256 km biking circuit that encircles Lac Saint-Jean, crossing 15 municipalities. GCC school travel planner Sanjana Sharma, who facilitates active commutes to school in Ajax, ON, visited Veloroute Des Bleuets this summer. She shares her observations on youth cycling and walking infrastructure in some of the communities on the loop.
Many small towns do not have sidewalks, as maintaining them is expensive. However, some of these communities have stencils to mark where pedestrians walk. In some places, there are also flexible bollards to create a separation and protect walkers from motor traffic. While most people rely on their cars to get around, families walking or cycling with young children for leisure is a very common sight in the evening.
The speed limits in these communities is between 30-40 kmph and there are many signs reminding drivers to slow down for children’s safety. Shown below is an example of one such sign.
But, more striking are life-sized cut-outs of children stuck on bollards in the middle of the streets. As a driver and cyclist, they are impossible to miss.
Another interesting feature is the placement of these stepping-stones (pictured below). In the absence of a sidewalk, the stones pave a path for those on foot.
Most surprising are signs where the cycling route runs alongside the highway — these indicate that children under the age of 12 must bike these sections with an adult. At first I scoffed, thinking no one would bike a highway with their kids in tow. However, I was surprised to see many families cycling these stretches with young children.
Each child was buddied up with a parent who rode at their pace, right behind them, to keep them safe. Drivers also give cyclists a lot of space to keep them safe. By the end of my ride, the idea didn’t seem so crazy. I feel excited for these families who have the opportunity to experience these spaces together safely.