Have you ever gone for a walk in Fort Richmond? With its many cul-de-sac’s, lack of sidewalks, and the odd surprise cut-through, it can be a difficult feat. Our own staff members, Adam and Anders, even got lost!
Many neighbourhood residents have recently come together to develop their own vision for what active transportation could be in their community. Working with Green Action Centre, the Fort Richmond/University Heights community has developed their own mandate, and worked to engage their neighbours to increase awareness and expand opportunities for walking and cycling. Green Action Centre’s Bike, Walk, Roll Fort Richmond project is funded through Neighbourhoods Alive’s LIFT program with partnership from the City of Winnipeg.
It started with School Travel Planning
Our work in this community started with helping three local schools address their transportation issues through the process of School Travel Planning. Ryerson, Dalhousie, and Ecole St. Avila schools were among the first schools in Winnipeg to participate in the award winning approach which brings together community stakeholders to conduct research and assess the barriers to active school travel. This knowledge is used to develop and implement written action plans to increase children’s mobility. Following the second year of their STPs, local parent Janice Lukes (who also won our Active School Champion award this year and is now the Community Active Transportation Coordinator for this project) wondered how we might expand the initiative to include the broader community…and so the grant writing began!
Introducing…Bike, Walk, Roll!
The Bike, Walk, Roll project is funded through Neighbourhoods Alive!and supported by other community groups to create more opportunities to learn bike maintenance, safe cycling, and other active transportation skills. The project brings together many groups and stakeholders to connect the local capacity and to see what kinds of partnerships can lead to better transportation options around the neighbourhood. A key project component is also the development of a local level active transportation map which will identify existing infrastructure. We found that difficulties in locating cut-throughs, sidewalks, or the few bike paths that do exist is a key barrier for kids and other residents wanting to choose active transportation. Knowing where these facilities are would make make walking to school or the store an easier task – especially for those new to Canada, which include many of the area’s of residents.
Off to the Races!
The project team has accomplished a lot already:
- Over the fall, Anders Swanson from our Active and Safe Routes to School Program helped to create a website, and do some local traffic counts with volunteers from the Pembina Active Living Group. This data and connection with residents will help him to create the map for the community this spring. Local resident Kevin Lunn joined the group and helped facilitate the group to establish a vision, and broader engagement strategy. Community Active Transportation Coordinator Janice Lukes has been talking about the project every chance she gets, and bringing on new community members and key organizations every day! Janice also represents the group on several committees including the new Stadium Event Day Advisory Committee.
This past Saturday, our group hosted a visioning workshop. Community members were asked “If Fort Richmond and University Heights could be the ‘model active transportation’ community for the rest of Winnipeg and Manitoba – how would it look?”. The workshop was a great success drawing out about 40 community members on a chilly Saturday morning.
Attendees got a 101 Overview of Active Transportation and then had the opportunity to pour over maps and discuss the barriers they were finding on the ground in the neighbourhood. The session also had groups come together to identify what opportunities they saw for the communities, and ideas such as community bike festivals, and increased bicycle parking flooded the walls.
The information from the session will be compiled and posted here as well as on the Bike, Walk, Roll Website.
No, Winnipeg may not be the most cycling friendly city in the world -yet! But, I have to say I am constantly blown away by the community level involvement and culture of volunteerism that this city has when it comes to these issues. It warmed my heart to spend last Saturday morning with so many people that just want their community to be a great place to gather and travel around with friends and neighbours. With the energy in the room, I know they will get there.