When I moved to Kelowna, British Columbia, I chose a walkable neighbourhood and commuted to work on foot. A year later I moved in with my partner. The walk was longer and nicer, except for the last stretch before my office. That entailed waiting to cross a busy highway. I learned to notice when the light turned green because it gave me barely enough time to cross six lanes to safety.
It was worse in winter. Snow clearing was great for cars, but pedestrians became even more of an endangered species. Snow, ice, slush, cars speeding through puddles. I wondered why the city cared more about cars than walkers and cyclists.I still wonder, but the city is gradually becoming a lot friendlier to those of us making the commitment to find alternatives to driving. Now my downtown neighbourhood is just a couple of blocks away from a walking and biking pathway. Every year it connects a little more of the city to us. We also have the incredible good fortune of living on the waterfront. We can walk from the Rotary Marsh, past downtown, around City Park, and under the bridge without ever crossing a lane of traffic.
The city also publishes a Bicycle Route Map that points out safe routes around the city. Personally, I think a stripe of paint marking about a meter of safety gives me pretty poor odds in a contest with cars and trucks. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.
So I’m feeling hopeful about the efforts to retro-fit my city, to make it more welcoming for walkers and bicyclists. It’s the kind of thinking that will make our cities friendlier, less polluted, and easier on the resources our generous planet makes available.
For lots more reasons for hope, watch the video below and check out other inspiring news and videos on Streetfilms.