Canada has its first ever National Active Transportation Strategy!
After championing active transportation for more than two decades, Green Communities Canada is thrilled about the federal announcement which includes $400 million in funding over five years.
Green Communities Canada and its members have been leaders in active transportation programming, education, and advocacy. We have particularly focused on walking and active school travel through various past programs including Canada Walks and Walk Friendly Communities.
Since 2017, GCC has been delivering the Ontario Active School Travel Program on behalf of the Government of Ontario. We co-chair the Active School Travel Canada Working Group and were one of the founding members of the National Active Transportation Alliance.
While inputting into the consultations on the National Active Transportation Strategy over the last number of weeks, here are our topline recommendations:
- Ensure an equal voice for walking alongside cycling
Walking is our most accessible, equitable and inclusive form of transportation with well-documented health, environmental, economic and community benefits. Therefore, we encourage the Government of Canada to take a holistic approach that recognizes the unique needs of those who travel by foot.
- Land use and transportation planning that supports walkability
We need policies and investments that prioritize high levels of connectivity and amenities that support walkability in both new communities being planned and existing communities being re-developed. This means more connected systems of sidewalks, pathways and trails that lead not only to transit but also to schools, stores, community centres and other local destinations.
- Establish a Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group
The Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety (COMT) authored this 2018 report on Active Transportation. In its role as co-chair of the Council, the federal government should relook at the recommendations presented to develop policy guidelines that integrate AT into the national and provincial/territorial transportations systems.
- Reduce vehicle traffic volumes and speeds:
Vehicle volumes and speeds pose a serious safety hazard to pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. This needs to be addressed with investments focused on traffic calming, complete streets, pedestrianized and traffic-free areas, and road space reallocation.
- Education and encouragement
Infrastructure development must be accompanied by education and encouragement policies and programming that rebuild a culture of walking and cycling and give people the tools and skills they need to be active and safe.
- Improved data collection
Currently Statistics Canada only captures and reports data on AT as it pertains to the journey to work (commuting) and walking/cycling are counted only if they represent the longest portion of that journey. Collection must be broadened to include: AT use for non commuting and multi-modal trips (trip-chaining), seasonal variations in AT, and trips to school.
Read the full letter to Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Andy Filmore, advocating that walking and walkability be at the forefront of the strategy.