Walkolution News Fall 2014  

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September 2014 - The back to school and back to work issue backtoschool 

As we all get back into our school and work routines this September, it's a good time to reflect on the state of walking across Canada.


Since 2007, Canada Walks has worked hard to elevate the discussions around walkability across the country. We formed our Canada Walks department in 2007, following the successful Walk21 Toronto conference (which we co-hosted with the City of Toronto), the Guinness World Record Walk (which we organized, and which still stands), and our first round of many walkability roadshows in Canadian towns and cities. At the time, we were also working to create a Canadian School Travel Planning model to mobilize action on children's independent mobility, a model that has since spread across the country and is now recognized as an international best practice.


The idea behind Canada Walks was to bring together all of our work on walking and active transportation under one umbrella, and to create a voice for walking in Canada.  


Walk Friendly ON

In 2011, Canada Walks initiated the WALK Friendly Communities designation program as a way to recognize municipal efforts to create great walking places in Ontario's cities and towns. We have so far awarded WALK Friendly designations to: Ottawa and Hamilton - Silver; London, Richmond Hill and Wasaga Beach - Bronze. It is our vision to spread the WALK Friendly Communities program across Canada so cities and towns from coast to coast to coast can discover what they   are doing well and where improvements can be made.


Progress is being made. But our work to create a culture of walking in Canada is hampered by a weak economy and the lack of political will to create walk-friendly infrastructure -- despite evidence that investments in walking reduce healthcare costs and boost neighbourhood economies.

Photo credit: Michael Woods, Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa councillors Allan Hubley and Peter Hume join Mayor Jim Watson to unveil new signs promoting Ottawa's recent silver designation as a WALK Friendly community. They signs will be posted at all major highway entrances to the city. 


Walkers are still disproportionately impacted by collisions with vehicles. For example, during the last year and a half, Toronto pedestrian deaths have increased over previous years, despite the recommendations highlighted in the 2012 Ontario Coroner's Review. Proposals to reduce speed limits have met with opposition, and it seems that pedestrian deaths are accepted as part of modern life.

An August 4 'open letter to the people who hold power and responsibility in Canada' was sent to media outlets from two visiting European tourists, highlighting their perception that in Canada there is a dominant car culture, and that walkers in the cities they visited were treated with less importance than cars. Critics will say Canadian cities and towns can never be like their European counterparts because our country is so vast and spread out, when in fact, a majority of our daily trips are easily walkable and bikeable -- to the corner store, the library, the fitness centre, to transit and to local schools. Experience around the world and in Canada shows that, with the right policies and investments, people will leave their cars at home and walk whenever they can.


It is important that we work hard to encourage and support Canada's many municipalities to create great places and spaces for people to walk, including communities and neighbourhoods where people can walk to local destinations from their front door. Federal, provincial, and municipal elections provide an opportunity to talk with political candidates and raise issues like walkability -- see the Walk Toronto campaign (2014 Election Surveys), and and visit the Active Communities Pledge site.

Why not start something like this in your community? Let's get Canada walking!  


iwalk logo
International Walk to School, October 2014! walktoschool    
    IWALK Day: Wednesday, Oct. 8
        IWALK Week: October 6-10     

For posters to display at your school, download them here. Stickers can be purchased directly from J.  Sutton Communications, contact paul@jsutton.com for purchasing details.

Healthy Active Kids grant program grant
George Weston Limited is pleased to announce the Fall 2014 Healthy Active Kids grant program, which supports charitable organizations across Canada that are working to increase access to high-quality after-school programming for children in Kindergarten to Grade 8.

Apply online before Friday September 19th.
Many schools embrace the themes of International Walk to School and continue to promote and celebrate active travel to school throughout the school year. We hope that the success of these schools will inspire you!!


St. Marguerite d'Youville students are Eco Stars ecostars  


St. Marguerite d'Youville's Catholic Elementary School in Hamilton, Ontario, received an Ontario EcoSchools Platinum Certification for a second year in a row. You may have seen other great photos from St. Marguerite d'Youville in previous issues of the Walkolution News -- the school enthusiastically participates in active school travel events throughout the school year and is truly a champion school. Congratulations to all the students, staff, and parents along with the City of Hamilton Public Works and Public Health Services, City of Hamilton, and other stakeholders who work so hard to promote healthy, sustainable, and fun journeys to school.




Rolph Road Public School's I-walk Wednesdays rolph
Starting with International Walk to School Week 2013, Rolph Road PS initiated ASRTS activities by encouraging students to walk or cycle to school. With the initial success of that week they initiated their I-walk Wednesday program.


Each student is given an I-walk Club Card to record their daily walk to school and the teachers helped by filling out a Wednesday survey. Last December, the top performing classes were awarded pizza treats and a Golden or Silver Sneaker Trophy. Each student who completed their Club Card was given a big apple from the local Loblaw and prizes from Scotia Bank and Synergy Martial Arts were raffled off.

I-walk Wednesday was re-initiated in February to celebrate Winter Walk to School Day, with the full support of the new principal. Even with all that snow, the school had one of their best walk to school Wednesdays. This past June, the school held a special I-walk assembly where School Trustee, Gerry Gershon, presented the Golden and Silver Sneaker Trophies (made by the Eco Club) to the top performing classes. This time, wonderful donated gifts from Canadian Tire, Loblaw, and Synergy MA were raffled off.

The results were calculated and everyone was a winner! The percentage of those who walked or cycled increased from 68% to 89% by year's end, and several classes from JK/SK to G6 had 100% performances! Much to their surprise, one of the kindergarten classes won the Silver Sneaker Trophy in June and Gold last fall. Congratulations to all and here's to another active year in 2014-15 at Rolph Road PS!


Building excitement for IWALK in North Bay iwalk
As part of their support of International Walk to School (IWALK), the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is planning on conducting a social media competition for IWALK Week to see which school can best spread the word in their community about the benefits of walking to school. Schools whose hashtags (e.g. #MTDavidsonWalksToSchool) generate the best picture of the week, the most content, and the most retweets/shares, will be rewarded with a $150 gift certificate and a golden shoe award. The health unit believes this campaign will create awareness around active travel to school. We will report on their success in our next issue.


Town of Aurora Supports Active School Travel aurora
Devins Drive Public School in Aurora, Ontario, has been enthusiastically promoting Active and Sustainable School Travel and has also been fully engaged with the School Travel Planning process. The project began in the fall of 2012, when a family survey provided insight into specific areas within the school community where pedestrian safety could be improved upon. Since that time, representatives from York Region District School Board, York Region Community and Health Services, Town of Aurora and keen parents participated in a school walkabout in October 2013. Specific items noted during the school walkabout and acted upon include: York Region District School Board helped to improve connectivity by creating a paved pathway from the school yard to sidewalk; the Town of Aurora helped to improve pedestrian safety by addressing traffic calming issues with the addition of stop signs, pavement markings and traffic calming signage. Devins Drive Public School is planning on launching IWalk during International IWalk Week from October 6 to 10, 2014.


The Town of Aurora has recently developed a municipal council report and School Travel Planning policy. This policy has made it possible for requests for traffic-calming measures around school areas to take precedence, with Devins Drive Public School being the first example of the policy's implementation. Aurora plans to continue working in partnership with York Region District School Board, York Catholic District School Board, York Region Community and Health Services, and other community partners in their School Travel Planning approach to help enhance pedestrian safety.


 Changes made to facilitate safer pedestrian movement as a result of a walkabout held in October 2013.


School Travel Planning in Ottawa stpinottawa 

Devonshire, Robert Bateman, RE Wilson, and Henry Larsen Public Schools are the latest to graduate from the Ottawa School Travel Planning (STP) initiative after three years of participation. Survey results show the combined modal share for walking and cycling at the schools jumped from 26 to 35 per cent over the same period. Each school received a certificate celebrating their efforts during a reception at Ottawa City Hall in early June. Since 2010, the Ottawa project, which is coordinated by Green Communitiess Canada, has supported active transportation at 20 elementary schools across the city and is funded by the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) and the City of Ottawa.

Mayor Jim Watson presents a Safer Roads Ottawa Award to Wallace Beaton, GCC's Active & Safe Routes to School Coordinator - Ottawa. The award recognizes the Ottawa STP Project for its "outstanding contribution to road safety in our community."


Ottawa's Walking School Bus Pilot Project walkingschoolbus
Green Communities Canada, Ottawa Public Health, Ottawa Student Transportation Authority, and the Ottawa Safety Council are partnering on a new initiative to bring a daily Walking School Bus (WSB) to eight schools for three months beginning in late September. Uniquely, the project will feature paid leaders in response to a frequent barrier to sustaining WSB initiatives: an over-reliance on parent volunteers. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting new initiative.

All in a Day - CBC Radio interview with Vicky Kyriaco, Ottawa Student Transportation Authority, Walking School Bus pilot project in Ottawa. 

Register for our September 23 webinar: Successful Support for Active and Sustainable School Travel Planningwebinar


Please join us September 23 from 12pm - 1:30pm EST for a webinar designed to support your School Travel Planning projects with grade K-8 students across Canada.
This webinar will include the following presentations, with a discussion period at the end of each presentation: 
 ˇ  Active and Sustainable School Travel (ASST) School Marketing Campaign - 2013-14 findings and 2014-15 future opportunities. Presenters: Jennifer McGowan, School Travel Advisor; and Courtney Richardson, Intern, Smart Commute at Metrolinx (Greater Toronto and Hamilton area) Ontario.
ˇ  Student Engagement in STP Case Studies - experiences on student walkabouts and data findings. Presenter: George Mammen, PhD candidate in the department of Exercise Science at the Health and Exercise Psychology Unit, University of Toronto.
ˇ  The iSchoolTravel Calculator - a guide for best use. Presenter: Ken Martin, Executive Director, the Hub for Active School Travel (HASTe), Vancouver, BC.


Please register for this webinar with Canada Walks, Green Communities Canada at: 



Production of this webinar is made possible through a financial contribution from Loblaw.  



Nova Scotia Success Storiescrosswalkflags 


Crosswalk Flags - Road Safety Education and Awareness at Shatford Memorial Elementary School in Nova Scotia 


Shatford Memorial Elementary School is located in a rural neighbourhood on the outskirts of the Halifax Regional Municipality. The school has been part of the Ecology Action Centre's School Travel Planning Program since 2008, when they joined as part of the Nova Scotia School Travel Planning Pilot. The school has continued to be actively involved in the program throughout the years and has many accomplishment including  connecting the school to the Nova Scotia Rails to Trails infrastructure, working with local RCMP to increase traffic enforcement, participating annually in walking and biking events, hosting multiple walking school buses, and advocating for many road improvements. 

The school sits adjacent to the busy St. Margaret's Bay Road, Highway 3, which is owned and maintained by the Government of Nova Scotia. Over the year, families who cross this street daily on their way to school have expressed concern to their local School Travel Committee about the reduced sight lines of the crosswalk area for drivers. Many parents feel this area has a high potential for vehicle and pedestrian conflict. With this in mind, the Shatford Memorial School Travel Planning Committee has worked with local councilor, Matt Whittman, and local crosswalk safety enthusiast, Norm Collins, to implement a pilot crosswalk flag program to improve the visibility of pedestrians who are using the crosswalk. 


Crosswalk Flags are a simple idea used to reduce vehicle accidents involving pedestrians. Basically, a container of flags is placed at each end of a local crosswalk and pedestrians are instructed to carry them while crossing. Holding the flags will indicate to a driver that a pedestrian intends to cross.


As part of the arrival of the new crosswalk flags, the School Principal, Angela Comeau, refreshed the school population's road and walking safety knowledge and provided a demonstration on how to properly use the crosswalk flags. The Shatford School Travel Planning Committee also created an evaluation sheet to monitor the effectiveness of the program.


A New Sidewalk - Improving access for families with young children   

WeeCare Development Centre - Tiny Travel Planning


WeeCare Development Centre became a participant of the Ecology Action Centre's Tiny Travel Planning Program in January 2013. Tiny Travel Planning is an adapted version of the centre's School Travel Planning Program that uses a collaborative community-based approach to improve road-safety issues and promote parents and children using sustainable transportation to arrive at and depart from childcare centres. 


As part of the Tiny Travel Planning Process, WeeCare surveyed families to identify local road safety concerns and then hosted a community walkabout with traffic officials to communicate what they had learned. One of the major areas of concern was the main road in front of the centre (Young Street) that did not have a sidewalk. The lack of sidewalk made it difficult for centre staff and families to access/exit the centre with young children by foot because of the narrow and steep characteristics of the road.


During the walkabout, the Centre Director, Dawn MacFarlane, indicated to Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) staff that she would be willing to lose a parking stall to get a sidewalk. Because of this process and the opportunity for HRM staff to hear from the community, the city began installing a new sidewalk on Young Street this summer. The installation of this sidewalk will lead to many physical activity and field trip opportunities for the children who use this centre.


Learn more about Nova Scotia's STP projects and to see more Canadian Success Stories.


Canada's National Health and Fitness Day fitness
Senator Nancy Greene-Raine is passionate about the health and fitness of Canadians. She has assembled a small team with a dream -- that Canada become the "fittest nation on earth."  Nancy created a private members bill, which has passed through the Senate but now requires the consent of Parliament to officially declare the first Saturday in June as "National Health & Fitness Day."


As walking is the favourite pastime of Canadians, walking events are the perfect way to celebrate National Fitness Day. We urge you to encourage your municipal leaders to proclaim this day and organize a one kilometre or 15-minute walk to show off the best places and spaces for walking! Schools -- why not promote walking and cycling to school on June 8 or dedicate the entire week to travelling to school actively? A great, active way to celebrate the end of the school year!    



Here's some walking fun from Ottawa:sparksstwalkingfun

Check out how the Sparks Street Authority want people to have fun while walking and exploring through the installation of these new pedestrian-crossing signs. If you're familiar with Britain's Monty Python comedy troupe then you'll recognize the classic symbol of the 'Ministry of Silly Walks'!



Everybody Walk! And the American Walkolution 

South of the border, a movement is underfoot to drastically change American culture and get every American walking enough to achieve a health benefit. It is a double-pronged approach that involves  motivating Americans to move more and making every community walkable. A sold-out walking summit in Washington, D.C. brought together experts from across the U.S. in 2013, to share ideas, plan, and "reimagine" America. The Everybody Walk! collaboration continues to build and is getting Americans walking through social media, with a mobile walking app, a walking pledge, resources, and toolkits. Leaders from many fields are uniting in this cause. A call to action was proposed by the US Surgeon General. Award winning media has been produced including fantastic video clips and public service announcements. A brilliant 30-minute documentary has also been produced. Watch it here! We rate it as a five-star production!


The U.S. Everybody Walk! collaborative is led by America Walks and generously funded by Kaiser Permanente.


Canada Walks would love to create a similar walking movement here in Canada and we are actively searching for corporate leaders who would be proud to put their name and financial support behind it. Walking IS a wonder drug. Getting Canadians walking is likely the cheapest solution for governments and the benefits of the investment will contribute positively to our health-care crisis, has the potential to significantly reduce traffic congestion, stimulate local economies, all while reducing air pollution and other emissions.


"If there were a pill that people could take that would nearly cut in half the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, reduce the risk of cognitive decline, reduce depression and stress, improve emotional well being, every one would be clamouring for it. It would be flying of the shelves. But that pill, that magic potion really is available to everyone in the form of 30 min a day of brisk walking." - The Walking Revolution documentary


Freddie the Foot creator recognized  




When we created the IWALK Club resources, we borrowed a great activity from a school in Poole, UK - Find Freddie the Foot. The parent who created this fun activity, Helen Warren, was recently awarded a  for her services to education in the U.K.


Congratulations Helen! 





P'tit Vélib launched in Paris
Check out this innovative project from Paris, France:  P'tit Vélib. Launched in June, the project provides bicycles for children from 2 to 10 years. See also http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/07/01/paris-velib-launches-bike-share-for-kids/.



The Region of Peel has created a School Trip Planner tool which can be found on the Region's Walk + Roll Peel website (direct link to the School Trip Planner tab on the Walk + Roll Map: http://walkandrollpeel.ca/map/themap.asp#schools). The tool allows school communities to estimate how long it would take to walk or bike to school. The estimates are based on available roads and pathway infrastructure to provide users with accurate route planning.

Check out the Green Action Centre's CounterPoint app --
now available for iPhones.

Android coming soon!

This exciting app will be covered in a future School Travel Planning webinar (see above).


The relationship between school physical activity policy and objectively measured physical activity of elementary school students: a multilevel model analysis.

Guy Faulkner, Laura Zeglen, Scott Leatherdale, Steve Manske and Michelle Stone

Faulkner et al. Archives of Public Health 2014, 72:20


Zero Vision: A plan to make our roads safe: A report from the U.S.  National Complete Streets Coalition highlights the alarming number of pedestrian deaths -- 4500 pedestrians are killed by motor vehicles every year on the streets of America -- more than those who died in the horror of 9/11 -- and details America's Walking Revolution.


Survey says... To recruit and keep Millennials, give them walkable places.   


Good news...  in June, a major American Report, "Foot Traffic Forward" highlighted the demand and growth of "walkable urbanism" in the United States.


July Consumer Reports declared walkable neighbourhoods as one of the five top real estate trends.  


A July report by the TD Bank revealed the hottest real estate market in Canada was Hamilton -- not surprising as Hamilton is the proud recipient of a Canada Walks WALK Friendly Silver designation. 





Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place Conference, Pittsburgh, September 8-11, 2014  
The Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference was founded on the belief that greater access to walking and bicycling will create healthier individuals, cohesive neighbourhoods and vibrant communities. In 2012, under the stewardship of Project for Public Spaces, Placemaking was incorporated creating new partnership opportunities and enhancing the movement's potential impact on communities.


The 2014 conference is taking place in Pittsburgh, PA, Sept. 8-11 and is organized into four tracks:

  • Change - advocacy,
  • Connect - infrastructure,
  • Prosper - health and economic benefits,
  • Sustain - applying solutions to other challenges such as energy, climate change and inequality.

WALK Friendly Ontario program manager, Kate Hall, will be attending the conference on behalf of Canada Walks and is looking forward to walking around the city -- a "Placemaking laboratory" with its bustling street markets, historic market square, and the Three River Heritage Trail.


The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) is holding its 7th annual active transportation policy conference - the Complete Streets Forum - on October 6, 2014, in Toronto. Kate Hall, program manager with WALK Friendly Ontario, will be leading a walk on behalf of Canada Walks at 10:15am called "Talk the Walk: Walkability audits as a Powerful Engagement Tool."



Walk21 Sydney 2014 registration is now open. Download a registration brochure; keynote speakers announced along with potential pre-conference workshops, include Children's Mobility Networking and Knowledge Exchange.  



Canada Walks' Director Jacky Kennedy is presenting and participating in a pre-conference workshop Children's Mobility Networking and Knowledge Exchange on Monday, October 20, along with Dr. William Bird.





Canada Walks can help you meet your walkability goals! cw  


We offer a full range of workshops and consulting services to help you:

Training flow chart

School Travel planning is now available - contact us to learn more.

The training is offered in a modular format so that each community can learn about topics that are relevant to their current level of experience with active school travel. Content is customized for each community.
If you have story ideas or walking news you'd like to share please send to us at asrts@greencommunitiescanada.org. Be sure to include your contact details.Ideas ideas
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Canada Walks Walkolution News profiles actions across Canada undertaken by Green Communities Canada and our many local partners to help create communities where walking is safe, easy, enjoyable, and inviting. By making a donation to the Green Communities Foundation you can provide vital support for this work.  Just click on the Donate Now button and indicate in the comments section that you'd like your gift to go to the work of Canada Walks. 
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