Category Archives: advocacy

Walktober Wanderings #4: Fogtober

There is more than one name for this, the tenth month of the year.  Of course, “Walktober” suits this span of 31 days very well but it is also a month when “Fogtober” is also appropriate.  And when the fog rolls in, what better place to walk than the Ogden Point breakwater?

Actually, the breakwater is a perfect place to walk any time of the year – and in any weather.  And now that the Dallas Road multi-use path is (almost) finished, more people will be able to access this prime walking spot.  The new crosswalks, signage and accessible parking spaces send two clear messages: “all are welcome”  and “let’s share this wonderful renewed place.”
Notes and photos by Britta Gundersen-Bryden

Is maintaining the flow of traffic more important than assuring children’s safety?

A tale of two schools

There has been much discussion in Greater Victoria on lowering speed limits over the past few years, which Walk On, Victoria supports. If you have travelled across the the region, you may be confused about the different speed limits in different areas, and the inconsistency of speed limits, even on portions of the same road.  On some roads there are clear signs notifying drivers of the speed limits, but on others, there are no posted signs.  This problem is especially evident when looking at two neighbouring schools: Quadra School and Cloverdale School

Most people are aware that the speed limit in school zones is 30km/h between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. when school is in session. The speed limit is set at 30km/h because this is the speed at which, should a child be struck by a car, the risk of serious or fatal injury is reduced.  Should a driver neglect to slow down, fines for driving over the speed limit in a school zone are higher than those for driving over the speed limit on other roads: $196 for those driving up to 20km/h over the 30km/h speed and $283 for those driving 21km/h or more over the posted school zone speed.

Driving with caution in a school zone is serious business, so you might be surprised to learn that one of the two elementary schools, located just blocks apart on Quadra Street, does not have a posted 30km/h speed limit.

Cloverdale School, located at 3427 Quadra, does not have a 30km/h posted speed limit. Quadra School, located at 3031 Quadra does.

Location of Quadra and Cloverdale Schools (click to enlarge):

 

Quadra School

Quadra School, located in the municipality of Victoria, is fully fenced on both the Finlayson and the Quadra sides of the school. The speed limit on this portion of Quadra is 40km/h when school isn’t in session, and there are 30km/h school zone signs on both Quadra and Finlayson. There is also a traffic calming median with plants at the intersection of Quadra and Finlayson. No cars  are able to park on the school grounds in front of Quadra School, and there is no turn off from Quadra onto the school grounds. Traffic moves slowly in this area during school hours.

The message is clear: Drive slowly and keep children safe.

Proceed a couple of blocks along Quadra, where at Tolmie, motorists cross the municipal border between Victoria and Saanich. On the Saanich portion of Quadra, the speed limit increases to 50km/h. 

Cloverdale School

At 3427 Quadra, where Cloverdale School is located, there is a roadside sign with a picture of children but no speed limit posting of 30km/h. Motorists can drive 50km/h on this portion of Quadra even when school is in session. Furthermore, Cloverdale School is not fully fenced on the Quadra side of the school grounds, and there is a driveway in front of the school allowing motorists to pull off Quadra onto the school grounds. Cloverdale School is located directly next door to the Cloverdale Thrifty Foods Store, and motorists sometimes mistake the school driveway for the Thrifty’s driveway.

If you are a pedestrian who walks in this neighbourhood, you know that the intersection at Cloverdale and Quadra feels dangerous. Drivers are focused on looking for breaks in traffic to make left or right turns or to turn into one of the two gas stations or the stores located at this intersection.

The message is clear: Hang onto your kids. This is not a safe street to walk on.

Walk On, Victoria advocates for consistency in posting 30km/h school zone signs throughout the CRD. 

Walktober Wanderings #3

Walktober is an excellent time to explore Victoria – from southwest to northeast – and back again. Following is a personal account of an urban walk – full of autumn colours.

My jaunt took me across Victoria – twice.  I live in James Bay and had an appointment to keep on Hillside, at the Victoria-Saanich border.  The trek took about ninety minutes each way; going “out” I noticed one handful of tourists in front of the legislative buildings, taking photos, and another small group waiting to board the solitary double-decker bus in front of The Empress. The level of activity reminded me of an early fall morning back in the 1990s, before the Coho docked on its first run of the day and long before legions disembarked from the final cruise ships of the season and overwhelmed downtown.

There was a large circle of like-minded folks engaged in some sort of contemplative gathering in Pioneer Cemetery and many people sipping coffee at numerous Cook Street cafes.

Many of the Haultain curb-side gardens were still in flower; some householders had even put excess produce out for neighbours to take home.

Along Shelbourne, single-family houses, well-past their primes and never candidates for heritage designation, continue to give way to multiplexes and townhouses. Nonetheless, there were pockets of colour along this busy corridor.

On the way “back”, I took residential streets in Oaklands, skirted Jubilee and passed through Fernwood.  I saw freshly-painted fences, new backyard benches and families enjoying playgrounds and the outdoor plaza on Gladstone.

When I finally returned to James Bay I paused to reflect; other than the lack of downtown tourists, the “new normal” isn’t so different from the “old normal” and our city is going to be okay.

Notes and photos by Britta Gundersen-Bryden

Walktober Wanderings #2

October 6

Today was one of those glorious early autumn days:  warm – not hot; breezy –  not windy; fresh – not humid.  I began my trek at the Oak Bay Rec Centre and had a glorious stroll.  Oak Bay, with its heritage homes, manicured lawns, tailored gardens and thick arboreal canopy, was the perfect place to walk. Add in Willows Beach and the marina plus the green of the golf course and the attraction for this walker is obvious.

But there are two hidden gems in Oak Bay that make walking here more than special.  The first is the network of back alleys.  The alleys of Oak Bay are not overwhelmed by trash cans, discarded mattresses or derelict vehicles; they are lined with painted bird houses, twirling whirly-gigs and vegetable gardens (I saw a spaghetti squash just ripe for picking).  Some alleys end in a “T”, giving walkers the choice of turning right or left.  Others are home to artists’ studios, workshops, old-fashioned carriage houses with haylofts up-top or proper garages housing classic cars. Each alley is a jewel on its own; together they form a beaded necklace, wound through Oak Bay.

And the biggest gemstone hanging from that necklace is Anderson Hill.  My favourite approach to Anderson Hill is up an obscured little path leading off Transit Road.  As I climbed up, the path narrowed and squeezed between old, lichen-covered rocks.  I walked through grasses that were pale yellow and dry; the fallen, leaves crackled under foot.  I walked past Garry oaks that have been stunted and twisted from frequent winds. In a few minutes I reached the top and there – before me – was a West Coast panorama of sea and mountains. I took a deep breath and marveled at the wonderful walking adventures we can have here on Southern Vancouver Island.

Notes and photos by Britta Gundersen-Bryden

View from Anderson Hill, looking south.

View from Anderson Hill, looking east.

 

Walktober Wanderings

October – what a wonderful month to wander around Great Victoria!

Oct. 2:  no wind 18C and high-level haze.  The best possible walk place to was the Ogden Point breakwater.

Added bonus #1:  seeing two sea lions heading toward Clover Point and one heron floating on a kelp bed.

Added Bonus #2:  the Dallas Road multi-use path is almost finished – and pedestrians are already enjoying it.

 

It’s time to make Shelbourne Street safer for pedestrians and cyclists

We’ve partnered with the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition to call for improvements to Shelbourne Street in Saanich during the Covid-19 pandemic. You can read our full press release below.

Walk On, Victoria (Greater Victoria’s pedestrian advocacy organization) and the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition (GVCC) are calling on the District of Saanich to use suitable barriers (bollards, traffic cones, etc.) to temporarily create wider sidewalk space and protected bike lanes along Shelbourne Street. The idea is that this pattern will then become permanent when construction on the Shelbourne Street Improvements Project is completed by 2023.

Planning for Shelbourne had been ongoing for over 10 years, during which time public interest and support for Active Transportation has steadily increased. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in significant changes in peoples’ work, school and recreation behaviours, has furthered public interest in finding ways to be active, get outdoors and use walking and cycling as a means of transportation.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have faced a lifestyle change,” says Amanda Macdonald, Chair of Walk On, Victoria, “there is now the opportunity to re-evaluate our streets and public spaces to implement measures for health and safety and to facilitate active transportation.”

The rationale for making these changes on Shelbourne street now is:

  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in people working from home and most on-campus courses at the University of Victoria and Camosun College have been suspended until at least January 2021. These work and education changes mean that traffic volume on Shelbourne is reduced because fewer people are driving to get to work and school.
  • A lot of people say they like the decrease in auto traffic that has occurred due to Covid-19. Public awareness about the urgent need to protect the environment has increased, and more people are choosing to walk and bike for exercise and as a means of transportation.
  • If our proposal is implemented now, the bike lanes and widened sidewalks that are temporarily created will give people an opportunity to increase travel on foot and by bike while it is summer, days are long, the weather is good, and people of all ages want to get outdoors. Families who want to introduce their children to cycling for transportation will have a safe, protected bike lane to use. Automobile drivers will get used to the new street configuration while fewer cars are on the road. The timing is perfect.
  • Additional sidewalk space and the separation of pedestrians from automobile traffic will make walking safer for everyone. Approximately 22% of residents in the Shelbourne Valley are older adults, some of whom no longer drive and rely on walking as their main mode of transportation. This is especially the case for older people living in shared residences on Cedar Hill X-Road, Church Street and at Berwick House and the Kensington. Older people are at greatest risk if they contract Covid-19, and wider sidewalks will allow for more social distancing. This is a measure Saanich can take to protect its most vulnerable citizens.

“Saanich has declared a climate emergency”, says Macdonald, “this proposal will keep with Saanich’s goals to reduce greenhouse gases and be a jump start toward already established environmental targets.”

Shelbourne has many pedestrians and cyclists who have endured unsafe, noisy, polluted transportation conditions for decades. A positive change that can come from the pandemic should be a healthier travel environment on this heavily travelled street.

Winter weather & multimodal transportation

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.

Britta is on the Walk On steering committee. She walks both for transportation and for recreation with local Volkssport walking clubs. When not walking, she can be found working on a novel or travelling to far-flung locales.

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!