2017 Strategic Plan

For the past two years, the steering committee members of Walk On, Victoria (WOV) have come together in November to review our mission and vision and decide on strategic priorities for the coming year.

Much of our core focus will stay the same. We will continue to advocate for funding and policy decisions that support walkability, expand our membership and steering committee representation, and engage with the communities of Greater Victoria on pedestrian issues. This year, we will also add a focus on building partnerships with other organizations that a share common interests to achieve mutual goals.

Building off the success of last year’s events, WOV will again participate in the annual Jane’s Walk in May and Car Free Day in June. We will also again take a lead role in organizing Walktober in October, in partnership with the Capital Regional District’s People Power Program.

Community projects in 2017/18 include advocating for better walkability of the Douglas Street Corridor and Shelbourne Street, both of which are in the midst of redesign processes.  We will also be looking for opportunities to connect with developers to ensure new building projects and renovations take pedestrian needs into consideration. We are also hoping to expand our outreach by connecting with active transportation committees in communities throughout Greater Victoria, and organizing walks to bring fellow walking enthusiasts together.

Please look at our proposed strategic plan for 2017 and let us know what you think by emailing us or commenting through any of our social media platforms.  We are also looking for feedback on a draft policy paper one of our committee members put together on some common pedestrian issues.

If you would like to get involved with any of the projects, or are interested in joining the steering committee, please send us an email at: info@walkonvictoria.org

Walktober 2016 Wraps Up

Part of Walk On’s mandate is to pwalktober-wrap-up-graphicromote and celebrate walking as a form of transportation and recreation. Pedestrians may frequently go overlooked by policymakers and engineers, but we’re here to let you know that we appreciate every step you take! Whether you choose to walk because you love all the benefits, or whether you walk because it’s the cheapest or most convenient way to get around, we salute you for using an environmentally-friendly, community-enhancing, healthy form of transportation.

walktober-champion-b-desjardinsIn October, we hosted Walktober–an online step-counting challenge.  Participants were able to register using their FitBit, smartphone, or other fitness-tracking device to track their steps on a common platform. Participants were entered into a draw for every day they walked 10,000 stwalktober-champion-m-kirbyeps and also had a chance at additional prizes for special challenges. Overall, over 11 million steps were taken by participants–the distance from Vancouver to Toronto and back again! The participant who took the title of “Big Stepper” (most steps overall) walked over 800,000 steps during the month (including from Sidney to James Baywalktober-champion-l-helps in a single day!)

Special thanks to our Walktober Champions, who shared some of their thoughts about walking and walkability.

Next year we’ll be doing it again, only bigger and better. We look forward to seeing you on the sidewalk during Walktober 2017–if you want to participate, make sure to sign up for our mailing list using the “Become a Member/Contact Us” link above.

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Citizen’s Guide for Reporting Sidewalk Issues and Concerns

Generally, Greater Victoria is a great place for pedestrians.  However, there are times when our streets and sidewalks present a challenge for even the most intrepid pedestrians.

Here is a step–by–step process that should help you report matters related to pedestrian safety in your area (see the linked document below for relevant contacts and links to municipal websites):

Step 1.  Several municipalities have specific web links that allow users to report problems such as tripping hazards, light outages and the need for snow removal.  If so, using the web site “report” link should be your first step.

Step 2.   If the municipality has no direct web link to report a hazard (or if you do not receive a response using Step 1), the next step is to phone the municipal Engineering Department.  If the hazard or problem is in a municipality’s park, contact their Parks Department or move to Step 3.

Step 3.  If the municipality’s Engineering Department does not respond, phone the municipality and ask to speak with the senior administrator.

Step 4.  If there has still been no response or if no action has been taken, contact the local mayor and council.

The following list indicates how to contact each of the local municipalities and the Capital Regional District in order to report an obstacle or other challenge to walking safely in Greater Victoria.

Each municipality’s website is organized differently and they often change their sites in order to make them easier to use. If the information or links below need to be updated, please let Walk On, Victoria know by emailing: info@walkonvictoria.org
In addition, not all municipalities make it clear on their websites how individuals should report pedestrian hazards. In such cases, Walk On, Victoria suggests moving directly to Step 3.

 

Guide with municipal links and contacts

Report on Pedestrian Advocacy

We’re very happy to introduce a report entitled “A Critical Path: Taking steps towards a more effective pedestrian advocacy organization”, an insightful report produced by the University of Victoria’s Master of Public Administration student Jeff Barber for Walk On, Victoria. To see the report, click here.

Thank you to the many pedestrian advocates from across North America who helped Jeff arrive at a very well-informed set of recommendations! Also, thanks to Jeff for taking on this project. We look forward to considering which of these great recommendations we should start putting to work over the next year and beyond.

Car Free Day 2016

June 19th was Victoria’s second annual Car Free Day. Once again the weather was great and people came out in droves to experience their city on foot. This year 220 people visited our booth and signed up to become part of our general membership–welcome and we look forward to getting to know you!

Car Free Day #5Our informal polls at the event gave us some information about the people we strive to represent. Here’s the results:

Car Free Day 2016 #1 Car Free Day 2016 #2 Car Free Day 2016 #3 Car Free Day 2016 #4The most common place that Greater Victorians walk is to the grocery store, followed by the park/beach, work/school, bus stop, restaurants, and other shopping. Other places we didn’t include in our list but were named by respondents were the library, community centre playgroups, and recreational walking areas.

Respondents are generally willing to walk quite far–with the majority saying “no distance is too far”! When asked how many hours per week they walk, almost half said they walk over eight hours.

Respondents had a lot of ideas about what the #1 walking improvement in their neighbourhood would be. More crosswalks got the most votes, but here’s some of the items respondents themselves came up with:

  • bus shelters
  • cyclists off the sidewalk
  • dog-friendly cafes
  • dogs on leash
  • better lighting
  • construction detours
  • beverage stop/food truck along Dallas Road
  • for drivers to be reminded that any pedestrian at a crosswalk has priority
  • less pavement
  • protected walkways
  • path between streets to connect our neighbourhood
  • less obstructions (e.g., overgrown plants)
  • improved sidewalk surface conditions for mobility devices (e.g., Fort Street)
  • a pedestrian precinct downtown (Government St.)
  • more trees for shade
  • sidewalks (Gorge-Tillicum)
  • washrooms
  • micro-parks and placemaking
  • more greenspaces

The wide variety of input reflects the diverse neighbourhoods and pedestrians of Greater Victoria.

Several people mentioned they’ve noticed overgrown shrubs in their neigbourhood blocking the sidewalks. Homeowners are required to keep those in check so sidewalks are accessible to all! If you find yourself stymied by an overgrown shrub or other obstruction, note the location/address and report it to your local government. Your fellow pedestrians will thank you!

Here’s where you can report obstructions for three of our local municipalities:

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Canada’s National Strategy for Walking

Canada’s first-ever national pedestrian advocacy campaign is underway.  Undertaken by Green Communities in Ontario, the concept has garnered endorsements from pro-pedestrian organizations coast to coast (including Walk On, Victoria).

Here’s what they hope to accomplish:

Over the coming months and years, we will:
• sign up Canadian organizations that want to create more
walkable communities
• engage government decision-makers in adopting supportive
policies and infrastructure investments
• help local organizations to promote walking and walkability in
their own communities
• facilitate information-sharing and networking to build a cohesive pan-national movement
• address research and resource needs
• hold Canada’s first national walking summit in September 2017

Here’s an excerpt from the campaign description, which is full of great information and infographics:

Over the past decades walking has been neglected as a mode of transportation. As a result, walking in many communities has often become unsafe, impractical, and unpleasant.

Walking—the most natural of all human activities—has been engineered out of our lives.

Pedestrian advocates know what’s needed to put walking back where it belongs, at the top of the transportation hierarchy:
• routes, connections, and crossings designed for all users,
including people using wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers
• a complete network of sidewalks and trails, bridges, and
crossings, including wayfinding (signage)
• walkable destinations, including shopping, services, places of
employment, schools, libraries, galleries, parks, and transit
• a great walking environment including shade, shelter,
seating, uncluttered walkways, greenery, street art, lively public
spaces and streetscapes, public washrooms
• celebration and promotion of walking, including festivals,
Open Streets, street performers
• school programs to remove barriers and promote active
transportation
• safety measures such as improved street design, reduced traffic speedsand enforcement

 

Walk On’s first ever strategic plan–please comment

The tricky thing about pedestrian advocacy is that there is no obvious way to do it. It’s tied to so many issues–health & safety, the environment, community vibrancy and social connections, and social justice–which means everyone has different reasons for being involved. Meanwhile, there are an infinite number of ways to work towards a more walkable city–do we focus on specific trouble-spots? Do we push for one type of improvement over another? Do we promote walking through events and campaigns? Do we attempt to educate pedestrians, road-users, and policymakers? Prioritizing between hundreds of potential projects is difficult but necessary, given our limited capacity.

Our steering committee has been grappling with these questions since the beginning and I think it’s safe to say now that we’ve come up with a few initial answers. I’m only one member, but here’s how I would explain them:

  1. As advocates, our main priority is to push for a more walkable city–mainly by expressing our views to city councils, developers, and others who make decisions affecting walkability.
  2. Focusing on a few key areas of town that many members use is one way to narrow down an otherwise overwhelming number of ideas and to see real impact.
  3. Greater Victoria is a city with a lot of sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrians, and hazards–we don’t have the capacity to highlight and prioritize every problem spot or potential improvement. Instead, we hope to work with and support neighbourhood associations and residents to raise concerns related to walkability.  For individual residents, we plan on creating an Advocacy Toolkit to empower those who want to see a specific change in their neighbourhood.
  4. Promoting walking is not our first priority…but an annual event promoting walkability is a good way to promote the group, grow membership, and start a conversation.
  5. We are lucky to have a talented, connected, and diverse membership. By recognizing and leveraging what people bring to the table, we can take advantage of special opportunities to make an impact.
  6. It’s fun to learn about walkability and related urban design issues. We plan on participating in and promoting educational opportunities so that together we can all learn more about how we can make Greater Victoria a pedestrian paradise.

We’ll continue to ponder how we can maximize our impact given limited capacity. In the meantime, please have a look at our draft Strategic Plan and let us know what you think.

Click here to download the draft Strategic Plan:

Walk On, Victoria Draft Strategic Plan 2016-2017