By Britta Gunderson-Bryden
Avid walkers are sure to welcome the weather forecast, predicting a sunny and warm weekend ahead. Winter has been long and cold–at least by Victoria standards. Although many pedestrians did brave the Arctic winds and icy sidewalks, there aren’t many who would say that walking was pleasant, or even especially safe, during the worst weeks of February.
However, the long stretch of snowy days did bring home an important fact; most pedestrians rely on other modes of transportation from time to time, just as those who rely primarily on other forms of transportation are usually pedestrians at various points in their day. From personal perspective, our hometown heroes during those snowy, blowy winter days were our BC Transit drivers. By walking a few blocks, rather than my customary few kilometres, I was able to catch a bus and be taken safely to places I needed to go. At bus stops, drivers tried to position bus doors so passengers didn’t have to step off into snowbanks. When the roads became slushy, they slowed down so pedestrians and waiting passengers didn’t get splashed. They were patient with people who don’t usually take the bus, explaining how to get from A to B and how a day pass may be the best option for the passenger’s travels. I took more than forty buses over a two week period; all but one “out of service” driver, waiting to begin their routes, let people on the buses so they could sit, out of the cold.
I realize that I am fortunate to live in a part of Greater Victoria that is well-served by BC Transit and that not everyone may have had my positive experience. Either way, those of us who use foot-power as our primary means of transportation have a stake in advocating for better and more accessible public transit.