Guest Blog: CRD harnesses People Power

Activate your Travel & Connect with your Community!

Walking, cycling, rolling and transit are perfect for everyday trips – and great for your health!

Currently there are 1.2 million trips per day made in the Capital Region, with more than three quarters of these trips taken by automobile. With concerns of sedentary lifestyles, reduced affordability, increased social isolation, and climate change impacts, it has become increasingly important to integrate active travel into our everyday lives. Using active modes such as walking, cycling, rolling and transit, can help create connections within our community, reduce our environmental footprint and increase our physical activity – plus it’s an enjoyable way to move around the region!

The CRD, with support from the Victoria Foundation and Traffic Safety Commission, recently launched an Active Transportation and Healthy Communities program called People Power to support residents in learning about the active travel choices available to them. People Power includes over a dozen complementary projects and initiatives throughout the Capital Region that aim to motivate, encourage and support residents to safely walk, cycle, roll and use public transit.

Some of the exciting projects that will be offered over the next two years include:

New Routes – Active Transportation for Newcomers: By raising awareness of the benefits of active transportation, newcomers unfamiliar with these activities in Canada will be encouraged to try walking, running, cycling, or public transit. Delivered by the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, in partnership with Bike to Work Victoria, the project will provide bike skills courses tailored for immigrants and refugees and create new multi-modal transportation safety resources in the most common settlement languages.

Bike Skills 101: Youth and their families can learn the fundamentals of trail riding at the newly completed Sooke Bike Park located at SEAPARC Recreation Centre. Up to 150 participants will get a chance to develop their skills, learn about safety and etiquette, and build their confidence in a free, outdoor setting. Each workshop includes safe route planning, injury prevention and cyclist courtesy – all transferable skills which support cycling as a part of everyday life.

Bike2Farm: This project will help 200 youth experience their local food systems on two wheels this summer. Exploring community gardens, edible boulevards, urban farms and grocery stores by bike combines food security education with a fun and safe active transportation experience. Organized by the CR-FAIR Society, the goal of this project is to inspire youth and their families to buy local, eat healthy food and cycle more often.

Play in the Park: Designed to support and encourage free outdoor family play on the Saanich Peninsula, this project is based in neighbourhood parks and playgrounds. It emphasizes walking, cycling, and rolling as a part of an active lifestyle. Panorama Recreation staff will also organize displays, contests, and interactive activities at evening events to support residents in trying active transportation more often.

Active & Safe Routes to School Project: To increase cycling, walking, rolling and public transit use among children, youth and their families, this project provides a strategic approach to address infrastructure, behavior, and safety and education needs for schools, districts and local governments. Schools will be selected this spring to start the program during the 2016/2017 academic year. Thanks to additional funding from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, a case study will be developed on this project and new active transportation research will be commissioned as a resource for municipal decision makers.

Across the Capital Region, approximately 23 per cent of regional travel is by cycling, walking and public transit. While the rate jumps in urban areas like the City of Victoria (boasted as one of the highest active travel rates in all of Canada), there is an opportunity to increase the number of active transportation users in every community.

People Power helps to increase knowledge, reduce barriers, build skills, enhance support, and create opportunities for residents to safely use and try active transportation. By shifting our behaviours to take more active modes, together we can reduce congestion, improve transportation safety, enhance a sense of belonging, create community connections, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, all while improving our own health and happiness.

See how rewarding it can be to get out of your vehicle and into your community more often with People Power.

Want to learn more? Check out the webpage and check back here for future blog posts about these great initiatives.

Lindsay Taylor is the Active Transportation and Healthy Communities Program Assistant with the Capital Regional District.