Raising a walker and then a biker
My daughter was invited to a birthday party in Champlain Park last weekend. On Sunday morning we set out to buy a gift at Mrs. Tiggywinkles, have lunch at a restaurant on Richmond then walk over to Champlain Park. My estimation for how long that would take was way too big, so we ended up getting to the park an hour early. So back to Richmond Rd for a bathroom break and juice at the Metro before getting back to the park for more playtime until 2pm.
In all we covered 5.5km before the party even started. Then my daughter ran around for two hours and walked more on the way home to mom's house with a pit-stop at grandma's to, of all things, walk the dog.
When I have ready access to a car (I car sit sometimes) I know I'm too weak not to use it. It's there, I have a license, and I'm lazy when tempted by the easy way out. The simple choice not to own a car creates situations where walking 6 or 7 km in a day is more than normal but not unusual. I'm going to shamelessly brag here and say I didn't even get a peep of complaint from kiddo. This is her reality.
Walking is easy and it's one of the first milestones we all pass through as toddlers. Then our culture abandons walking as a mode of transportation. We're only now re-awakening to it as an important consideration when building streets.
Sidewalks need to be flat so they are safe to walk on in the winter. Cars can handle a little bump to get into a driveway - why make every pedestrian risk a fall to shimmy across a frozen cement slab? The Crazy Kitchen at the Sci&Tech musem is fun but I don't want to pass through it on the way to the grocery store.
We've put humans on the moon - surely we can ensure proper drainage so walking isn't a comical episode of jumping out of puddle spray. A few trees would be nice for shade. Main streets need to have meaningful store-fronts and a reason to be there. Good design is key.
— Alex deVries (@alexthepuffin) May 28, 2012
I'm on this train of thought because just like biking, walking is easy and is for everyone. It requires no expertise or training (after about 12 months of age anyway). As long as we build our cities to make it comfortable everyone can enjoy a nice walk. As added benefit, good pedestrian infrastructure is also accessible. Like my kid I'm also getting older everyday. When I can't walk I'd like to roll and still be safe.
Yesterday we (the Green party now, not my daughter and I) put out a call for Ontario to dedicate 2% of the transportation budget to cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. Cities are quickly realizing the health and fiscal benefits of walking and biking. Our Complete Streets Infrastructure Fund would dedicate provincial money towards these goals.
One step at a time!