Green Action Centre, along with 22 other organizations, recently signed a letter for the Canadian Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety requesting a meeting to discuss the recommendations outlined in the report,  “Active Transportation: A Survey of Policies, Programs and Experience,” released by the Council’s Transportation and Environment Task Force in October 2018. The report speaks to implementing a number of initiatives that will help make Canada a global leader in active transportation.

The letter of request is a joint effort of Velo Canada Bikes, Green Communities Canada, and Active School Travel Canada. As a member of Green Communities Canada and Active School Travel Canada, Green Action Centre strongly supports a strategy to invest in active transportation to enable all communities across Canada to be accessible, sustainable, and healthy.

When we prioritize people over cars (sustainable transportation), we increase opportunities for physical activity, improve mental and physical health, environmental sustainability, and enhance safety

Why do we need to develop and implement an active transportation strategy?

As stated in the report, there are a wide range of benefits to Canadians from active transportation infrastructure and policies, including improvements to health and fitness, safer roads for all users, increased social cohesion, GHG emissions reductions, improved air quality, transit success, and reduced congestion. In addition, walk- and bike-friendly communities attract

economic investment, boost retail sales, and help employers to attract young, creative employees. A strategy would allow Canada to improve health outcomes and meet environmental targets.

A built environment that supports walking and cycling increases access to physical activity

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of over 25 chronic conditions, including coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, breast cancer, colon cancer, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

A built environment that prioritizes people over cars, reduces traffic and the associated greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution

About one quarter of Canada’s GHG emissions come from the transportation sector (Manitoba’s largest source of GHG emissions is transportation), Canada has the second highest rate of vehicle-kilometres travelled per person amongst OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) member countries, Canada has committed to reduce GHG emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, and, according to Canada’s December 2017 submission to the United Nations, additional efforts will be required to reach that target.

A built environment that is designed for people of all ages and abilities improves safety and satisfaction

Municipalities are integrating pedestrian and cycling infrastructure into long- term transportation and land-use planning, such as Complete Streets policies. Making it easier and safer for people to walk and bike achieves important social inclusion benefits, especially for low-income Canadians, children, families, seniors and persons with disabilities.