All posts by Amanda Macdonald

September 22nd is World Wide Car Free Day

Did you know there is one day a year when everyone in the whole world is invited to park their cars and travel by foot, bike, transit or any mode of transportation other than driving? The purpose of World Wide Car Free Day is to raise awareness of the environmental and social harm done to our lives from the air and noise pollution created by the private automobile. 

Recognition of  the harm caused by millions of cars on the roads world wide is not new. As long ago as 1956, The Netherlands held a car free Sunday, and Belgium followed a year later. In the 1970’s, at the height of the oil crisis, other countries initiated car free days, but there was not yet an  international call encouraging everyone, everywhere to stop driving for even just one day.

The sustainable transportation movement ramped up in the 1990’s. At the International Ciudades Accessibles (Accessible Cities) Conference held in Toledo, Spain in 1994, keynote speaker Eric Britton called for the organization of a World Wide Car Free Day. Britain was the first country to initiate a national car free day in 1997. In 1998, France organized a day they called, “In Town Without My Car,” and in 2000 the EU organized the first European-Wide Car Free Week. The same year, car free day went global when a program called Carbusters (now known as the World Carfree Network) collaborated with the Earth Day Network to launch the World Car Free Collaborative.

Some time in the early 2000’s, September 22nd of each year became the official date to celebrate car-free day world wide, though some cities celebrate on other days in September. In a few cities, such as Jakarta, Indonesia, what started as “Car Free Sunday” has turned into a weekly event to improve air quality and promote health of the city’s residents. (Google Jakarta Car Free Sundays to learn more about what’s happening there.)

World Wide Car Free Day was celebrated in approximately 2,500 cities in 2019,  before the Covid Pandemic was declared. In 2009, Toronto was the first city in Canada to participate in the event. Montreal followed a year later. This year Vancouver is hosting three car-free events on September 9th (Commercial Drive), September 16th (Main Street), and September 24th (West End). Victoria hosted Car Free Days on Government Street on Father’s Day for several years prior to the Covid Pandemic.

Although Walk On is not participating in any formal celebration of World Wide Car Free Day this year, we encourage all our members to leave your car at home on Friday, September 22nd. Let your friends know it’s World Wide Car Free Day, and encourage them to do the same. Imagine a (fantasy) world without any private automobiles….even for just one day. 

Pedestrian Safety- September

Whether you are heading back to school, shuffling your kids back to school, or commute through school zones, we are urging you to be extra vigilant! As many people are now also returning to work from their offices, our schedules are likely feeling new again. This feeling can cause us to be rushed, and make poor decision while we commute. This impact is greater for those commuting by their car, as blowing through crosswalks or school zones is very dangerous. Remember to be patient and give yourself extra time if need be, especially if you are driving or cycling.

It takes effort from everyone (drivers, busses, cyclists, pedestrians, and more) to remain safe during our commute, but distracted driving and poor infrastuitcute often have the most devastating effects. Earlier this month, we learned of the tragic death of a Sanich resident, killed at a crosswalk. You can learn more here.

Check out other articles here regarding pedestrian safety during September and how much more important is it during this time to eliminate distracted driving.

  1. BCAA has a great article here that aims to educate drivers on travelling safety as we transition to this new season.
  2. The RCMP has an article detailing September as the “Distracted Driving Month” and its impacts, here.
  3. The Times Colonist details how traffic safety will be enforced this new school year, here
  4. ICBC shares some really interesting stats here, about the impacts of distracted driving.

Janky June 2023 Wrap-Up!

The 2nd annual Janky June contest was a success! This year we received continued support by the community for our contest for the jankiest sidewalk in town, which was a great time. This year’s theme was “Pedestrian Infrastructure, or lack thereof”. Thank you to all of you who entered, we received a great amount of entries and feedback from various neighbourhoods. Without support from pedestrians, we would not be able to put this contest on.

Not only did we get great support from the community, but we also received a lot of local media coverage! We encourage you to check out the coverage below:

  • Times Colonist “The worst sidewalk in Greater Victoria is just a thin strip along a busy
    road” : Linked here
  • Times Colonist “Photo contest to find Greater Victoria’s worst sidewalk” : Linked here
    Check News “‘It’s just so dangerous’: Lansdowne Road sidewalk named worst in
    Greater Victoria” : Linked here
  • Global News “Narrow strip of concrete voted Greater Victoria’s ‘jankiest sidewalk’”:
    Linked here
  • CFAX1070 “Where Is The Worst Sidewalk In Greater Victoria?”: Linked here

And another big congrats to our Janky June winners, Chad and Marilyn! Chad made the harrowing journey through the area of 1885 Landsowne Road (pictured above, courtesy of Times Colonist) to capture this very thin and dangerous sidewalk. Marilyn found an out of place set of stairs
that emerges from the sidewalk on Granite Street in Oak Bay. We also appreciate that both the Mayors of Saanich and Oak Bay commented on the contest winners, and acknowledged the concern.

As ultimately, one of the goals of the #JankyJune contest is to create a positive outlet for the community, that highlights pedestrian infrastructure that needs improvement. Janky June can mean lots of things to many people, but we are ultimately thrilled to have been able to spark a conversation about pedestrian safety and advocacy.

Inspired by the TransLink Accessible Navigation Project

By Natasha Moroz 

TransLink recently debuted a new project aimed at improving accessibility for its riders and will  launch this February and will run for 6 months. TransLink is piloting this new technology to  make it easier for customers with sight loss to navigate the transit system. Customers in  specific locations selected for the pilot can use the ‘NaviLens’ app on their smartphone to  receive audio and haptic cues to help find their bus stop and receive other updates.  

TransLink explains the technology as a “system that is enabled by the installation of 16 coded  decals in the pilot area, which can be read using the NaviLens app to up to 14 metres away,  depending on the angle of detection.” Customers are provided information regarding the exact  pickup point, arrival times, and service alerts, as well as directions and information to essential  facilities such as elevators. Impressive as well is that the program is not limited to French or  English, but has a total of 34 language settings.  

The locations of these codes seem to be well thought out and well-informed. The ten NaviLens  codes will be set up at New Westminster SkyTrain Station bus bays, four at bus stops near the  Canadian National Institute for the Blind office in New Westminster, and two at bus stops near  the Vancouver Community College (VCC) campus on East Broadway in Vancouver. 

This project ultimately aims to make transit more accessible for its riders. TransLink explained  that they will be seeking feedback from participants in case the program is reintroduced in the  future. This program is especially important since not all blind or partially sighted people read  

braille, and this is a modern and fairly accessible alternative. The CEO of TransLink, Kevin  Quinn, explained that “by bringing this advanced way-finding technology to Canada for the first  time, we’re aiming to create a more inclusive experience and empower our riders to navigate  the transit system with ease and safety”. 

It is this effort to empower riders, enhance accessibility, and improves safety along the journey  that is really exciting. As a pedestrian advocacy group, we often focus on improving walking  and rolling through our city. However, many pedestrians are also occasional or regular BC  Transit users. Getting to and from the bus and our destination is not often a door-to-door  experience. We still need to be able to maintain a safe and accessible journey through various  means of transportation. 

We wanted to highlight this improvement as it is inspiring to see such a thoughtful and  supportive resource being provided. Though the pilot project and its technology largely focus  on providing information relating to the journey on the bus, it provides real-time service alerts  and accessibility information. The technology appears to support users before and after  catching the bus. This technology could be expanded and used to assist riders in navigating  into or out of a transit hub or provide accessibility information relating to the bus stop’s  condition. I believe this sort of technology and infrastructure can support not only the bus rider  but the pedestrian as they get off the bus or head to their stop. There are many ways this  project can be expanded upon to provide a journey that is safer and more inclusive and can go 

beyond bus arrival times. This technology could be very useful in navigating the major transit  hubs in our city, such as at UVic or major bus stops downtown.  

This project is exciting as it is a thoughtful step forward in providing safe and inclusive  transportation. This type of initiative is sure to benefit pedestrians, and at the very least opens  the discussion to how we can improve the ways we get around and how others get around. We  are looking forward to seeing how this project performs and what the final results and  conclusions are.  


TransLink: program/bus-projects#accessible-navigation-project CBC: loss-1.6708531

Greater Victoria Election Candidates Challenged to Take Positions On Transportation Questions

Victoria – Victorians for Transportation Choice (VTC), a collection of seven groups who work for better transportation solutions for all, has launched a candidate questionnaire for the October 15th municipal elections. The VTC hopes to inform the voting public about candidates’ ideas and platforms on a surprisingly wide range of transportation questions.

The VTC’s member groups – Capital Bike; Greater Victoria Placemaking Network; British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association; Walk On, Victoria; Vancouver Island Transportation Corridor Coalition (VITCC) Action Committee Of People With Disabilities (ACPD); and the Better Transit Alliance of Greater Victoria – want our communities to shift to transit, walking, biking, and rolling, as a means to meet transportation needs while improving livability, while reducing carbon pollution and other harm. 

“Municipal governments in Greater Victoria have take steps to provide healthy and affordable transportation choices, including investing in bike and roll infrastructure and prioritizing public transit over highway expansion”, said Amanda Macdonald, VTC spokesperson and Chair of Walk On, Victoria, “However, there is a lot more work to do to make active and sustainable transportation accessible to everyone and it is important to know where candidates stand on these issues.”

“The provincial government’s ambitious target of reducing car traffic 25% by 2030 should be on every candidate’s radar,” said Tom Hackney of the BC Sustainable Energy Association. “Do they support making the big changes needed to help meet this target, or not?”

The full questionnaire is available at and candidates answers will be publicly available before the election. All candidates are invited to fill out the survey. VTC will not be endorsing any candidates. 

“We want to know if candidates are ready to welcome wheelchair and mobility scooter users on bike and roll routes, and if they will help meet the provincial government’s ambitious target of reducing traffic 25% by 2030,” said Eric Doherty of the Better Transit Alliance. “Bus lanes are important, but so are accessible bathrooms.”

Media Contacts: 

Amanda Macdonald

Chair, Walk On, Victoria


Eric Doherty

Better Transit Alliance of Greater Victoria 250 818 8223

Tom Hackney

BC Sustainable Energy Association 250 381 4463

Barriers to Safe and Accessible Walking on Oak Bay Avenue

During the first weeks in August, Tom and Jean Newton, two members of Walk On, Victoria, led public walks and conducted interviews with people walking along both sides of  Oak Bay Avenue between Foul Bay Road and just past Monterey.

The purpose of the walks and interviews was to gather information from participants about the most challenging sidewalk, curb and crosswalk barriers they experience while walking on Oak Bay Avenue. The majority of people who participated were older adults with mobility or vision challenges, though young parents pushing strollers and people of all ages walking their dogs were also interviewed.

The data Tom and Jean gathered was submitted in a report to Oak Bay Council, Oak Bay communication, planning and engineering staff, and the consultants Oak Bay hired in preparation for the Pedestrian and Sidewalk Master Plan the municipality intends to draft later this year. In this blog post, we’re sharing the report the Newtons provided to Oak Bay.

A copy of the report can be found here:

If others of you have led public walks or advocated with your municipal councils for better pedestrian infrastructure, we’d like to hear from you. Please email an account of your experiences to

Jane’s Walks 2022

Walk On, Victoria will be hosting (with collaborators) two in person walks as part of the Jane’s Walk festival.  Jane’s Walks are held annually on the first weekend in May to honour the memory of Jane Jacobs (May 4, 1916-April 25, 2006). Jacobs was a political activist whose work in NYC and Toronto is credited with championing diverse, walkable neighbourhoods where well being of people is prioritized.

Parks and Gardens in Pedestrian-Friendly James Bay

Saturday, May 7, 10am

Meet @ the promenade at the corner of Dallas Rd and Montreal Street

Hosted with the City of Victoria

Route and stops:

  1. Dallas Road and Dock Street

  2. Montreal Community Garden

  3. Redfern Park

  4. Superior Street at St Lawrence

  5. Back to Dallas Road

Over the years, Victoria residents and legions of visitors have strolled through Beacon Hill Park, around Clover Point and along the cliffs between Dallas Road and the ocean. But there are a number of other interesting parks, public spaces and community gardens in James Bay.

Join City of Victoria staff and Walk On, Victoria for a leisurely stroll that will take in some of these parks and gardens, note recent changes and preview some of the changes and improvements for pedestrians coming to the western tip of Victoria’s oldest neighourhood.

Accessibility: curbs and steps, sidewalks, busy or noisy vehicle traffic
Seniors welcome, Children welcome, people with bicycles welcome, people with wheelchairs or walking aids welcome
Walk Duration: Two hours including stops
Walk Leader: Britta Gunderson-Bryden

The Highs and Lows of Thetis Heights

Saturday, May 7, 1pm-2:30pm

Meet @ Serious Coffee- Millstream Village

Hosted with Walk Roll Map (

Some say that over the past three decades, Langford has rolled out the red carpet to attract businesses, including big box store Costco, which is all many Victorians know the community for. As the fastest growing city in Canada, critics say Langford has spread too fast, too far, often without thought to environmental sustainability. They allege that plants, trees,animals, and all features of the natural environment  have been destroyed with the expansion of new neighbourhoods where much needed, (relatively) affordable housing has been built. But while Langford development has sometimes proceeded full-speed ahead, that’s not the whole picture.  For many longtime residents and newcomers alike, Langford is much more than a bedroom community or a shopping destination reached at the end of a traffic jam. It’s home, a place they want to stay and build a diverse, sustainable community.

The Millstream Creek neighbourhood, located off Treanor Avenue between Bellamy Road and Selwyn Road, is the site of a Langford neighbourhood bordered by a creek and forest, where neighbours act as stewards of the trees and animal life they love. Some residents in this area believe Langford is at a tipping point, ready to take time to carefully plan the next stages of community growth. The new Langford Heights development, proposed at the site of the former Western Speedway, is one example where a new built environment could potentially be constructed to include opportunities for walking, cycling, recreation and preservation of nature.

On Saturday, May 7th, from 1:00-2:30 pm, West Shore residents are invited to attend a free, family oriented walk along Millstream Creek to share stories about the area and talk about the community they live in. To participate on the walk, meet at Serious Coffee in Millstream Village at 1:00 p.m. The walk will be slow-paced, accessible for people of all ages, and dogs on leashes are welcome.

The walk will occur, rain or shine. Come meet your neighbours, share your memories about the area, and discuss your hopes for the future of your home.


Happy Walktober! Going for a walk might be one of the easiest activities that you can do, yet it may not always feel safe and comfortable. Sidewalks might be crumbling, narrow, or nonexistent. The safe way across a busy street might result in a frustrating 500m detour. Or perhaps you’ve experienced a scary near miss with a vehicle or have recently tripped and fallen. These experiences all factor into our decision to walk and may become barriers to accessing our communities as we’d like.

A new crowdsourced website is hoping to change that. has recently been developed by researchers at the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, and Memorial University with funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Crowdsourcing offers a way to fill in the data gaps left by traditional sources such as police reports or ICBC claims. Building upon their experience with, the team has created to gather reports of barriers to safe, comfortable walking or rolling on the region’s sidewalks and pathways. Website users can map three different types of reports: 1) Hazards or Concerns; 2) Missing Amenity; or 3) an Incident (collision, fall, or near miss). While the map platform is global, the project is focusing promotion initially on the Capital Region. After a participant drops a location pin on the map, they are asked a series of questions about their report.

Participation is anonymous, but demographic details such as year of birth, gender, and ethnicity are collected to better understand who the project has reached. People may experience the safety and comfort of their environment differently based on gender, race, or age. As well, different barriers may exist for people with a disability and this information is also collected. Data collected by will be shared with Walk On, Victoria and the region’s municipalities to help improve the pedestrian environment. Have something to report? Simply go to through your browser on any device.

Why Walkable Communities Must Include Green Space

As the population in the CRD increases, every mayor in a municipality with a commercial centre talks about housing densification to help create a community where residents can live, work and shop without commuting. Green space, essential for health and quality of life, frequently gets squeezed out of the planning.
Look at downtown Victoria. One high-rise after another has gone up, replacing increased suburban sprawl with vertical sprawl. What was once known as the city of gardens is turning into a city of canyons where, on some streets, sunlight seldom reaches the ground. Unless you consider green space to be a shrub in a pot on the sidewalk in front of a condominium complex, you will need to walk to the playground by the Court House, or to Beacon Hill Park, if you want to find a spot to sit down on a bench  without having to buy a cup of coffee for the privilege. While shopping, coffee shops, restaurants, banks and the Royal and  McPherson Theatres are close by, nature is not. Where’s the green space?
A growing amount of research indicates that people who have regular contact with nature are happier, mentally and physically healthier, and more likely to value environmental sustainability. Densification of housing needs to be planned in an environment that includes access to nature. A truly walkable urban community includes a number of small parks with benches, trees, and a children’s playground. Urban green space provides a necessary place where people  find solace in the city.  While residential “Walk Scores” posted by realtors focus on access to commercial and service amenities, walkable neighbourhoods must include space where birds and insects can thrive and people of all ages can experience nature within five to ten minutes walking distance from their homes.

Redfern Park is an example of a neighbourhood park in a Victoria neighbourhood. It includes picnic tables, a children’s playground, a little free library, a small dog park and many beautiful, mature trees. Bigger than a pocket park, Redfern Park is located between Boucher and Leighton streets on Redfern.

Interestingly, older residential neighbourhoods, including parts of Fairfield, James Bay, the Hillside/Finlayson area, parts of Oak Bay, Saanich and Esquimalt include neighbourhood parks that encompass a good size piece of property where, by today’s standards, numerous single family homes (or a sizeable apartment/condo complex) could be constructed. It’s the developers of more recently constructed housing complexes, and the municipal Councils who approve their developments, who have deemed park space too expensive, an extravagance that their communities can’t afford. The exception is affluent suburbs, where, even though residents own single family homes on sizeable pieces of  property, additional space has been set aside for parks. An example is the lovely Emily Carr Park in the Broadmead area of Saanich.

Agamemnon and Elena Kasapi Park is located at the corner of Leighton and Bank Street in Victoria. This pocket park, set in a Garry Oak Meadow, has several benches and bark pathways through the park. The wayfinding sign at the corner of Bank Street and Leighton indicates the direction to Royal Jubilee Hospital, Oak Bay Village and other neighbourhood amenities.

And what is the true cost of deleting nature from our urban core? Desirable neighbourhoods, the places where people wish they could live, cities designated as beautiful, are never bereft of nature. No one should need to be affluent in order to have green space in their environment. A good example of a popular urban park in Saanich is Rutledge Park, located in the Cloverdale area where numerous people live in apartments and condos surrounding the park. Another example is the very well used Kings Park near the Royal Jubilee Hospital, where former hydro land will hopefully be saved in entirety to preserve the only neighbourhood park in that part of the city.
Downtown Victoria could use a park on the Capital Iron side of town and another on the site of a car dealership closer to the centre of town when the land is available. It’s not too late for Victoria, and other urban municipalities, to set land aside and build new parks as a priority in their plans for urban densification. Our urban communities need to be built with beauty and nature top of mind. For today and for the future, people have a right to access nature.

Welcome to Walktober 2021!

By: Arielle Guetta, Walk On, Victoria Steering Committee Member

Walktober is a month-long celebration of all things walking and encourages people to keep their steps up even in the rain and wind. October is also International Walk to School Month – an opportunity for families and kids to walk to school and to bring attention to needed safe routes to school.

As a pedestrian advocacy organization, we are all about Walktober. It’s a lovely time of year to get out and enjoy the fall colours, but also a time when we need to be thinking more about pedestrian safety as it gets darker earlier and roads are wetter.

One important way for pedestrians to stay safe in the coming months is to be seen.  It is much easier for drivers and cyclists to see pedestrians who sport brighter gear.  How about a colourful umbrella or a light-coloured jacket?  Reflector strips that fit around the upper arm are easy to drop into a pocket when not in use.  Small, flashing lights can be attached to a backpack, purse or book bag. Don’t forget Fido;  a blinking light on a collar or harness helps keep our walking companions safe, too.  Another safety tip is to carry a small flashlight to show the way when sidewalks in poor condition create tripping hazards, where street lights are few and far between or where sidewalks still don’t exist.

While I love walking, after 1.5yrs of a pandemic and having a baby, it can be challenging to motivate myself to get out the door sometimes. If you are looking for some new ideas to invigorate your walks in October, here are some suggestions:

 For individuals

  • A walking challenge: Try something like ‘World Walking’ to virtually walk around the world or participate in a month (or longer) walking challenge like this 31 day walking workout.
  • Get competitive: Join in a step counting challenge and compete for prizes through ParticipACTION’s Great Big Move from Oct. 1- 31.
  • Find a new walk: Use an app like Footpath or AllTrails to map and find new walks near you, or check out your municipal or regional district webpage to see if there are any guided walks in your area – one of our favourites is the Signs of Lekwungen Tour.
  • Make it interactive: Download one of the many apps that can turn your walk into a game – Seek allows you to identify plants & critters on your walk and win badges the more you find; Geocaching turns your walk into a treasure hunt; and Pokemon Go unlocks a virtual world wherever you are.

For families

In addition to the suggestions above, here are some fun things you can do with your kids to get them out in all weather.

  • A scavenger hunt: Make a list of what you might find on a Fall walk, or download an already made one like this one from CBC Parents, and get your child to mark off things as they find them. You can also collect the items for a fun art project when you get home.
  • A rainy day walk: Put on head to toe raingear and go looking for puddles. Stomping around in them is always a hit, but you can also look for sticks or leaves to turn into ‘boats’ in the puddle (my toddler loves this).
  • Use old technology: give your kids a basic pedometer and create a daily step challenge, or create a map and teach your kids how to use a compass to lead the way.

Whatever you choose to do this month – we hope you enjoy Walktober!