All posts by Amanda Macdonald

How Walkable is your Neighbourhood? A Virtual Walking Audit in Honour of Jane’s Walk, 2020

Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urban activist who advocated for preservation of urban communities where a diverse population could live, work and walk to most the services they required.

Most years members of Walk On, Victoria participate in Jane’s Walk Weekend by leading several community walks. This year, because of social distancing necessary to help control the spread of Covid-19, we are offering suggestions for alternative virtual walks.

How Walkable Is Your Neighbourhood?

One way Walk On Victoria suggests celebrating Jane’s Walk Weekend this year is that pedestrians do a walking audit to assess the walkability of your own neighbourhood. Walking audits are a recommended part of all Jane’s Walks. Jacobs believed that a walkable neighbourhood is key to building community relationships and to keeping communities safe.

To do a walking audit, take your camera and a notepad and set out to rate the walking infrastructure you encounter along your walk.

You are encouraged to choose a walk that is not only recreational but that is also en route to where you carry out daily tasks, such as grocery shopping, banking, going to a pharmacy, the library, etc. If you don’t live within walking distance of any of these amenities, then do an audit of the route you usually walk to catch a bus or for exercise and recreation.

Here is a sample walking audit that two Walk On Victoria members completed for the segment of Richmond Road between Cedar Hill X-Road and Lansdowne:

Virtual Jane’s Walk Audit Richmond Rd., Saanich

Some of the factors to consider in doing your audit are:

  • Condition of the sidewalks: Is the pavement smooth or broken? Free of debris or littered with leaves, dirt, gravel, or trash? Is the pavement even or dangerously slanted? Is there room on the sidewalk (or pathway) for two people to walk side by side? Is the sidewalk wide enough that someone walking in the opposite direction is able to pass? Do obstacles such as parked cars, utility poles, signs, fire hydrants, bushes and shrubs or drains obstruct the path? Is the sidewalk wide enough for use by someone on a mobility scooter, wheelchair, or walker or someone pushing a baby stroller? What is the drainage like on the sidewalk? Are there pools of sitting water or mud that is slippery? In winter, are there places where snow and ice are not removed?

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  • What about areas where sidewalk is absent? Is sidewalk continuous, or do you need to cross the street to get to sidewalk when sidewalk on one side of the street abruptly ends? Do you need to walk in the street to get around parked cars that pull onto the boulevard?

Picture 6A

  • Safety of crosswalks: How many crosswalks are there on your route? What is the distance between crosswalks? Are crosswalks so far apart that pedestrians have little alternative other than to dash across the street mid-block?  Are crosswalks located in a place that is clearly visible for motorists from a safe distance (not on a curve in the road)?  Are the intersections wheelchair/stroller/scooter accessible?
  • Does walking along your route feel safe? Is there separation for pedestrians from the street or does the street abut directly with the sidewalk? What is the traffic speed limit? Does it feel like cars are moving by too close and too fast? Are there any traffic calming features on your route?

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  • Bus stops: Are there crosswalks near bus stops, or does a pedestrian need to cross mid-block to get to the bus stop? What is the condition of the bus stop? Is there a bus shelter? A bench? Is the bus stop well-lighted? Is the bus stop just a sign on the edge of the road or on the front lawn of a residence?

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  • Walking at night and in bad weather: Walking on a nice day in May is quite different from walking in heavy rain at 9 pm in November. In bad weather, are you likely to have water splashed on you by passing cars? Is the street lighting on your route adequate to make you visible to motorists? Are you able to see the pavement well enough to avoid tripping or slipping on debris on the sidewalk?
  • Places to rest: Are there any benches or places to rest along your route? If so, are they in good repair and easily accessible?
  • Natural environment: Is your route attractive? Are there trees and other greenery? Is the built environment along your route in good repair, and do business owners keep the sidewalk in front of their businesses clear of debris and obstacles?Picture 3C
  • Is there any art along your route? Any signage to help with directions?
  • What are some of your other observations about the walkability on your route? What changes need to happen to make your pedestrian experience safer and more pleasant?

Picture 4A

If you want to do your own walk audit, please share it with us! You can also send a copy of your audit results to your local municipality to point out areas for improvement.

For a formal walk audit form that some members have used as an advocacy tool in the past, please click here.

James Bay History in a Box: A walk to celebrate Jane’s Walks 2020, presented by Walk On, Victoria

Victoria’s James Bay neighbourhood is home to many historic buildings and a fine selection of late 19th century and early 20th century residences.  Not all of the original buildings are still standing but many have been “preserved” in black and white wrap-around photographs on large utility boxes.

Join Walk On, Victoria (virtually) by strolling through history on May 2nd or 3rd, or any time this spring or summer.  Just look for the large utility boxes, remember to be mindful of other pedestrians and physical distancing, and enjoy your walk!

This walk covers approximately 5 kilometres and takes just over one hour as it rambles along quiet streets.   The route is a loop so it is possible to begin at any of the numbered stopping points.

Download a printable version of this walk here: https://walkonvictoria.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Janes-Walk-2020.pdf

Here is the map of the route: Joint - US 1

  1. King’s Printer, northwest corner of Superior Street and Government Street, kitty-corner from the Queen’s Printer (same building).  Photo 1935.  Notice the photo of the old printing presses.

Continue east on Superior Street to the next corner at Douglas Street.  Turn right to cross Douglas Street.

Continue reading James Bay History in a Box: A walk to celebrate Jane’s Walks 2020, presented by Walk On, Victoria

Walk On, Victoria’s 2018 Year in Review

We are already well underway into January, 2019, and with the New Year comes a time to reflect on the past year, and set goals for the year to come. Walk On, Victoria had a busy 2018, and already planning exciting things for 2019.

Every year, our Steering Committee has a Strategic Planning session, where we reflect on our achievements and challenges, and determine our organizational priorities.  Our 2018 Strategic Plan is found here. Below is a summary of what we achieved in 2018 based on the goals set out in the Strategic Plan.

Continue reading Walk On, Victoria’s 2018 Year in Review

Walktober 2018

 

In 2016 and 2017, Walk On, Victoria was able to host the Walktober Challenge with the help of a two-year People Power grant provided by the Capital Regional District.

This year, there is no step-counting challenge, but we’re planning two walks to help you to continue the Walktober traditions. Walks are free and last about 1.5-2 hours.

Walktober Theme Walks

Join Walk On, Victoria members for a free walk to see parts of region from a new angle:

Saturday, October 13, 1:00pm: Planning for affordability

Image result for cook st village victoria bc

This walk will explore why and how to make our community more affordable by increasing compact development in walkable urban neighborhoods. It will discuss factors that affect housing  development costs, and the types of housing that are most affordable to build and occupy. We will look at various housing types   including secondary suites, multiplexes, townhouses, mid-rise and high-rise apartments, ranging from heritage buildings to new developments. Led by Todd Litman.

Meet at the Beacon Hill Park playground at Cook and Leonard Street, across from Hampton Court.

Sunday, October 21, 2018, 10:00 am:  The Harbour and History

Take an easy stroll around Victoria’s Inner Harbour and back through downtown, looking at various points of historic interest and searching for the often-missed but unique Hands of Time sculptures.  The walk will take approximately 90 minutes and will return to the starting point. Led by Britta Gundersen-Bryden.

10:00 am start.   Meet at Fisherman’s Wharf Park, James Bay, on the grass behind the bus stop.  Start point is accessible by foot, bike (rack across the street in front of Imagine Cafe), or by the #2 bus (James Bay). There is some street parking in the area and pay parking at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Social Media Challenge

We encourage you to post your photos on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, of favourite walking spots in Greater Victoria and use the hashtag #WalktoberYYJ. We will profile our favourite shots on our social media.

#WalktothePolls

Municipal election day is October 20. Get out and #WalktothePolls and make sure to ask your candidates:

Do you support making walking safer and more enjoyable in your municipality?

What specific policies, projects and expenditures would you support in the next four years to make walking safer and more pleasant in your municipality?

CRD Walk and Wheel to School Week

 Walk and Wheel to School Week is a fun and free week-long campaign that celebrates and encourages students and their families to choose active travel for all or part of their usual commute to school. The campaign includes events, travel tracking, resources and support for schools and parents, including information on the benefits of active travel and prizes for participation.

Walk and Wheel to School Week will be held October 1 – 5, 2018.

If you know of any other events happening in October, please share them with us!

Think about Pedestrian issues when you VOTE in your Municipal election

On October 20, 2018, municipalities across British Columbia will hold local government elections. This includes the 13 municipalities in the Greater Victoria Area, which will hold elections for local government officials, including Mayor and Council.

Walk On, Victoria is asking our community to consider where candidates stand on pedestrian issues when making an informed decision on Election Day.

When thinking about walkability in Greater Victoria, there are a number of ways to approach the issue. To really focus municipal candidates on the issue, we have come up with a two-part question.

Do you support making walking safer and more enjoyable in your municipality?

What specific policies, projects and expenditures would you support in the next four years to make walking safer and more pleasant in your municipality?

There are a number of events and debates happening in the area leading up to the election on October 20. We encourage our members to get out to these events and ask the candidates these questions. Or, next time you see your local candidate in your neighbourhood, take the opportunity to engage with them about walkability.

Victorians for Transportation Choice

 Walk On, Victoria recently joined up with a collection of like-minded groups who work for better transportation solutions for all, to launch Victorians for Transportation Choice (VTC).

VTC launched a candidate questionnaire for the October 20th municipal elections. The VTC hopes to inform the voting public about candidates’ ideas and platforms on a range of sustainable transportation questions.

We encourage you to visit www.transportchoicevic.ca, where you can view the full questionnaire and candidate answers. We hope this will help inform you of where the candidates stand on pedestrian issues, as well as transportation issues more broadly.

“Victorians for Transportation Choice represents people in the greater Victoria area who want their transportation options to be safe, convenient and effective, while minimizing harm such as carbon pollution that drives climate change,” said Tom Hackney, VTC spokesperson and Victoria Chapter Co-Chair of the BC Sustainable Energy Association. “Many people in greater Victoria want to be part of a positive revolution in transportation, and we want our municipal governments to lead in building solutions.”

The VTC’s member groups — Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition; Greater Victoria Placemaking Network; British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association; Walk On, Victoria; Island Transformations Organization and Better Transit Alliance of Greater Victoria — want our communities to shift to more transit, walking and biking, as a means to meet transportation needs while improving livability,  while reducing carbon pollution and other harm. As the Victoria Transit Future Plan says, “Major investments in expanding the road network to accommodate the private automobile do not align with local, regional and provincial planning aspirations.” The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate change commits provincial and federal governments to shift spending from higher to lower emitting types of transportation.

The full questionnaire is available at www.transportchoicevic.ca and candidates answers will be available for the general voting public. All candidates are invited to fill out the survey. VTC will not be endorsing any candidates.

Finally, remember to get out there and VOTE on October 20!