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?