Victoria remains Canada’s cycling commuter capital, with nearly 6 per cent of residents choosing to ride a bicycle on their daily commute. An additional 10 per cent of Victorians commute by foot.

On the other end of the spectrum, St. John’s and Saint John have the lowest rates of bicycle commuting in Canada, but comparatively high rates of walking to work. Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa have the highest percentage of citizens depending on public transit to get them to work, with more than one in five using those systems.

Across Canada, it’s the cities struggling with congestion the most that are seeing the strongest gains in active transportation. Walking and cycling to work is often seen as a way of avoiding the headaches of public transit and the slow slog of a packed freeway.

Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver all posted gains in active transportation between 2006 and 2011.

If you build a city that is great for an eight-year-old and for an 80-year-old, then you build a city that is going to be great for everybody. They’re like an indicator species. We need to stop building cities as if everybody in them is 30 years old and athletic.

Gil Penalosa, the "pied piper for sustainable transportation," quoted in a Globe & Mail profile. 

Photo: The Atlantic Cities

From Greater Greater Washington:

The central fact about cars, from a planner’s perspective, is that they take up space. Lots of space. And this matters because space in cities (a.k.a real estate) is scarce and therefore expensive.

Cars take up space when they’re moving and they take up space when they’re parked, and even though they can’t be simultaneously moving and parked, you have to plan for both states and plan for peak demand; so you have to set aside some multiple of the real estate actually occupied by the car at any given time.

That’s just a practical observation about the spatial geometry of cities that doesn’t bow to my ideology or yours. And it would still remain true even if cars ran on nothing but recycled newspapers and emitted nothing but rainbows and unicorn tears.

In the past, our policy response has been to just set aside more and more space for cars: More freeways, more roads, more lanes on existing roads, more parking garages and surface lots. This approach hasn’t worked, and there are two very practical reasons why:

First, you can never build enough. There’s a phenomenon called "induced demand" that is very well understood by now. A new lane or a new freeway never reduces congestion in the long run: People respond to new capacity by driving more or by living or working in previously remote places, and you’re very quickly back where you started and have to build still more. The same phenomenon applies to increases in the supply of parking. It’s a game you can’t win.

Second, when you do make more space for cars you quickly start to crowd out any other potential mode of transportation, especially walking. All those parking lots and freeways and roads spread everything else out so that the distances become too great for walking. And the more you optimize any given space for cars the more hostile that space is for pedestrians. Very quickly you get to the point where it becomes impossible—or prohibitively depressing—to get things done on foot.

And this last fact has huge quality-of-life implications for human beings—not just because driving to a distant strip mall for a gallon of milk is less pleasant than walking to a corner store, but also because for many people driving simply isn’t an option.

Check out the rest of the article here

(Infographic source: Muenster Planning Office)

Sustainable Communities | ‘Jennifer Keesmaat: Walk to School’ 

From TEDx via YouTube:

Jennifer Keesmaat is an urban planner and Principal at Design Dialog, an integrated planning firm based in Toronto, Ontario. Jennifer’s passion for building sustainable communities is evident in this TEDxRegina talk where she reminds us of a simple yet meaningful pastime — the walk to school. This talk was filmed May 16, 2012 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

It’s worth noting that Keesmaat was recently hired as the new chief planner for the city of Toronto

Related:

For walking is the ultimate “mobile app.” Here are just some of the benefits, physical, cognitive and otherwise, that it bestows: Walking six miles a week was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s (and I’m not just talking about walking in the “Walk to End Alzheimers”); walking can help improve your child’s academic performance; make you smarter; reduce depression; lower blood pressure; even raise one’s self-esteem.” And, most important, though perhaps least appreciated in the modern age, walking is the only travel mode that gets you from Point A to Point B on your own steam, with no additional equipment or fuel required, from the wobbly threshold of toddlerhood to the wobbly cusp of senility.

If walking is a casualty of modern life the world over—the historian Joe Moran estimates, for instance, that in the last quarter century in the U.K., the amount of walking has declined by 25 percent—why then do Americans walk even less than people in other countries? Here we need to look not at pedometers, but at the odometer: We drive more than anyone else in the world. (Hence a joke: In America a pedestrian is someone who has just parked their car.) Statistics on walking are more elusive than those on driving, but from the latter one might infer the former: The National Household Travel Survey shows that the number of vehicle trips a person took and the miles they traveled per day rose from 2.32 trips and 20.64 miles in 1969 to 3.35 and 32.73 in 2001. More time spent driving means less time spent on other activities, including walking. And part of the reason we are driving more is that we are living farther from the places we need to go; to take just one measure, in 1969, roughly half of all children lived a mile or more from their school; by 2001 three out of four did. During that same period, unsurprisingly, the rates of children walking to school dropped from roughly half to approximately 13 percent.

Three paragraphs from writer Tom Vanderbilt’s first article ('The Crisis in American Walking') in a great four-part series for Slate magazine, 'Walking: America's Pedestrian Problem

(Photo credit: The Washington Post via Slate)