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A report is going up to a City of Vancouver Committee this week developing a “spot” improvement program for pedestrian facilities, as well as information for an updated 5-year cycling network additions and upgrades to be completed. You can read the report here.
Only two pages of the report are devoted to walking improvements. The report basically says that there will be a review of current initiatives, and “ongoing spot improvement” to address issues identified for  walking as outlined in the Transportation 2040 plan. There are no statistics related to the pedestrian injury or fatality rate, or any analysis of where those crashes are occurring. The Coroners’ Report on pedestrian deaths has not yet been updated to include statistics for 2017 mortalities-that normally is out at the end of November.
While the City has lately delivered 35 kilometres of new and upgraded cycling infrastructure and in eight pages outlines their plans for new route improvements and initiatives, walking does not receive the same comprehensive attention. This report is also written solely by the Engineering Department with no partnership from the Planning Department or linkage to any community process or residential association. Acknowledging that Engineering does most of the work by itself, the report identifies “Vancouver Police Department, the Vancouver School Board, ICBC, and TransLink” as partners. There is not one advocacy group of seniors, disabled, or others mentioned.
The work the City has done with building and addressing the needs for  cycling facilities is laudable and needed. But active transportation is also about walking, and an aging population needs walkable accessible networks of streets to services and shops that are connected, easy to cross, and universally usable for people of all abilities. Instead of identifying  nuts and bolts items like left turn bays and arrows as “pedestrian improvements” could a more comprehensive approach be taken  in the context of community plans and new developments, to improve the  amenities along popular walking routes  and shorten the crossing distances most used by school children and seniors? Can those walking routes favoured by seniors and those with impairments be seen as important enough for a comprehensive review too?
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Comments

  1. Sandy: Good comments.
    I would note that when you say no involvement from the planning department, I think you mean no involvement from the land use planning department. There is a whole transportation planning department in Engineering.
    In terms of advocacy groups, at the T2040 Stakeholders meetings held every month, which address walking as well as cycling, commercial vehicles, transit, private vehicles, and so on, the Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, Seniors Advisory Committee, ATPC, and others are always in attendance and actively participating.

  2. I agree that walking deserves a lot of attention, however cycling has been virtually ignored for over a century and we have a lot of catching up to do. We already have a pretty complete network of segregate walking paths while the network of segregated cycling paths can be measured in the 10s of Km. Land use planning and Park Board still appear to be anti-cycling by their actions.
    Note further that improved cycling also helps pedestrians by:
    – reducing sidewalk riding
    – providing a buffer between pedestrians and moving traffic.
    – reducing street crossing distance and improving visibility at intersections.
    Also, the upgrades of Pt Grey Road and Burrard Bridge were of huge benefit for those walking, especially for those with disabilities.
    Let’s not pit walking against cycling but look to improve both for the benefit of everyone.

    1. I don’t interpret this new spot improvement program as pitting walking against cycling. While there are sidewalks almost on every street, there still are places where the details of a particular place don’t work well for walking. Many places were good enough in the past when few people were there walking but are now not working well because of more people walking.
      The needs of people when they walk and when they cycle are similar. Cycling can often be considered a variation on walking.
      It’s of interest to people both when they walk and when they cycle to not be put into conflict by outdated street design.

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