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:
- 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.
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!