What is Walk On, Victoria?

Walk On, Victoria is Greater Victoria’s pedestrian advocacy group. Formed as a volunteer-run non-profit in September of 2014, Walk On, Victoria aims to give a voice to pedestrians and ultimately to make Victoria a safer and more enjoyable place for everyone to walk.

If you want to help make Victoria more walkable, become a member! We’ll keep you up to date with occasional newsletters.

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Celebrating 10 years of Walk On, Victoria

2024 marks 10 years since Walk On, Victoria was founded. Walk On started when Victoria resident Sally Reid was frustrated with her experience as a pedestrian and a lack of infrastructure and consideration for people walking around town. Seeing what other groups, like cyclists, have achieved in Victoria, she saw a potential to do the same for pedestrian advocacy. She sought out like minded creative pedestrians who were keen on making change and making Greater Victoria a safer and more enjoyable place to walk. Hence, Walk On was born!

Fun fact: some names for the organisation that were discussed included Feet First, Ped Power, Foot Traffic Victoria, Stride, First Step, Steps Ahead, Pedestrians Advocating for Livable Streets (PALS) and Victoria Pedestrian InterChange. 

We wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate some of the achievements and fond memories of the past 10 years as we look forward to the future of Walk On, Victoria.

Walk On Week

In 2015, the first major event that Walk On, Victoria hosted was called “Walk On Week”. Inspired by Bike to Work Week, we decided to take it a step further and encourage people to walk to work and school, or for exercise and for pleasure. We hosted an event in Centennial Square and then Mayor Lisa Helps made an official proclamation of October 5-11, 2015 as Walk On Week.

Walktober

What started as Walk On Week turned into a month-long challenge to promote and celebrate walking as a form of transportation and recreation- known as Walktober. The first Walktober in 2016 saw three “champions”– Mayor Barbara Dejardins (Esquimalt), Councillor Michelle Kirby (Oak Bay), and Mayor Lisa Helps (Victoria) lead a walking challenge where members of the community counted their steps to win prizes. 

Walktober continued to evolve and saw different walking challenges over the years, and community members championing walking, and we hosted many events where we could connect with our community. Even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic we hosted a virtual Walktober

We are proud that Walktober was given a shout out in Victoria’s 2017 Vital Signs Report

Fun Fact: October was chosen as the month for the challenge as that time of year sees shorter days and rainier weather, which can make for a particular dangerous situation for pedestrians. 

Jane’s Walks and Community Events

One of the best things about being involved with Walk On is connecting with community members and getting to go for walks! 

Jane’s Walks is an international festival held in honour of urban planner and advocate Jane Jacobs to encourage people to get out and explore their communities by foot. We have had the pleasure of hosting many Jane’s Walks, including:

Bowker Creek: Daylight, Dreams and Realities (2016)

Cloverdale/Quadra Community Walk: What We’ve Lost, What We’ve Gained, What we Want for the Future (2018)

A Wee Bit of May Magic: A Walk for Wee Ones (Self-Guided pandemic friendly walk in 2020) 

Parks and Gardens in Pedestrian-Friendly James Bay (co-hosted with the City of Victoria in 2022)

The Highs and Lows of Thetis Heights (co-hosted with Walk Roll Map in 2022)

Learning from the past, walking towards the future (co-hosted with the Township of Esquimalt in 2023)

In 2018 we also c-hosted with the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network and the Dock to host a screening of the Jane Jacobs documentary “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City”.

Engaging with our Community & Members

We have enjoyed participating in community events and getting to hear from our members what issues they face as pedestrians on the streets of Greater Victoria. 

One highlight was hosting the Better Cities Film Festival at the Vic Theatre which showcased short films about urban design, active transportation.

In election years we have partnered with other active transportation organisations in the community to survey candidates on issues important to us. Victorians for Transportation Choice (VTC), a collection of seven groups who work for better transportation solutions for all, hopes to inform the voting public about candidates’ ideas and platforms on a surprisingly wide range of transportation questions.

We have also done our own surveys, including a member survey in 2016 and 2018 that helped inform our advocacy work.

Another way we have engaged with our community has been participating in events like Car Free Day and doing some on the ground member surveys!

Janky June

Some events like Walktober have been around in some form or another since our inception. As we have grown and changed as an organisation we have tried to come up with new ideas to advocate for pedestrians. It started as an idea for a contest to find the worst sidewalk in Victoria and turned into Janky June. We were pleasantly surprised by the uptake for the context- but turns out there are lots of janky sidewalks out there! This is just some of the media coverage we received. 

Advocacy Highlights

A lot of work that gets done by Walk On happens behind the scenes. We advocate for pedestrians at all levels of government- where we see a need for change or when we are invited to participate in consultation processes. 

Some of the projects we have been involved with: 

  • Having a dedicated member of Walk On, Victoria as a pedestrian advocate on the CRD Traffic Safety Commission 
  • Representatives of Walk On participate in activity transportation committees in Victoria/Saanich
  • Advocating for improvements on Shelbourne Street 
  • Participating in the development of the BC Government’s CleanBC strategy for active transportation
  • Consultation on the Mayfair and Uptown development corridors
  • Advising on pedestrian improvements to Oak Bay Avenue
  • Advocating for school safety, including improved sidewalks, crosswalks, crossing guards and lower speed limits
  • Review and provide comments to municipal councils on proposed budgets to ensure funding is dedicated to pedestrian improvements
  • Meeting with politicians and policy makers at the local, provincial and federal levels
  • Creating guides and tools to make it easier for pedestrians to report problems
  • Presenting to other community groups such as the Rotary Club and neighbourhood associations 
  • Conducting walk audits and providing resources for others to carry out their own audit of pedestrian infrastructure in their community.
  • Advocating for lower speed limits on municipal roads
  • Participating in consultation on specific projects- such as All Ages and Abilities bike lanes in James Bay, pedestrian trails on Dallas Rd. and the Johnson St. Bridge

So, is Greater Victoria any more pedestrian friendly than 10 years ago?

We’d say yes! Overall, we have seen municipalities actually taking the concerns of pedestrians seriously. This means that we have seen budgets increased for pedestrian improvements like crosswalks and sidewalks. Overall, there are more pedestrian-only spaces and trails that make it safer and more enjoyable to walk. 

Walkability and active transportation are way more in the local vocabulary Certain policies, such as lowering the speed limit to 30 kph in some roads have been more widely accepted in the public as we think people care more about pedestrian safety. We would like to think we have made a difference in contributing to this conversation. 

That doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to be done. Sadly our region has seen a number of pedestrian deaths and injuries and there is a way to go before we can reach Vision Zero– eliminating all traffic deaths. 

So, what do the next 10 years of Walk On look like? If you are interested in joining us for the next chapter of our journey, check out the job ad below!

Are you a extra-passionate pedestrian? Want to get involved in helping us advocate to make Greater Victoria safe, accessible and enjoyable for walking? Just fed up about all those janky sidewalks? Consider joining our Steering Committee!