A brand new active transportation initiative is hitting the streets of Fort Richmond.
Bike Walk & Roll Fort Richmond is a project that aims to increase awareness and expand active transportation opportunities and safety in the community. Active transportation includes walking, cycling, in-line skating or any mode of self-propelled transportation.
The project was initiated by local community residents, but is being spearheaded by the Green Action Centre, a non-profit environmental education hub that does work throughout the province.
Bike Walk & Roll builds on the Green Action Centre’s Active and Safe Routes to School program, which works with Fort Richmond schools to increase the number of students who walked or cycled to school.
Through the program, the Green Action Centre had the opportunity to apply for the Bike Walk & Roll grant which will allow them to offer the program to the entire community, not just students.
"It’s helping us to work more broadly with all ages and abilities to increase the education and awareness of active transportation around the whole community," said Shoni Litinsky, co-ordinator of the Active and Safe Routes to Schools program.
Litinsky said the project will include different community events, including cycling education and public open houses.
The first open house will be held Tues., Oct. 23 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Acadia Junior High School library, located at 175 Killarney Ave.
The open house will be an opportunity for residents to learn more about active transportation and discuss how the conditions in the community can improve for cyclists and pedestrians.
"If you look at the area, it’s a classic representation of a lot of old neighbourhoods with lots of bays, and a shortage of sidewalks. It’s really hard to navigate on foot," Litinsky said.
She said one of the key components of the project will be to work with the community to develop a map to highlight walking and cycling routes in the neighbourhood.
"We’re trying to highlight the key destinations and routes people can take," she said.
Fort Richmond resident Jennifer Watt said such a map would be useful tool for people living in the neighbourhood.
Watt said the neighbourhood is full of cut-through paths that go from one bay to another, but that many residents don’t know where they are. She thinks a map might encourage residents to get out and walk more.
"A map is a very practical step that gives people options to go through residential bays where there’s not much traffic."
Watt stressed other solutions will still be needed. She’s hoping to see a walking and cycling path installed near Ecole St. Avila, where her children attend school.
"Walkers and bikers don’t really have a safe path to get to get to school," said Watt, who said one of the main concerns for residents in the area is the lack of sidewalks.
"My daughter is in Grade 3 and she’s at the age where she should be able to bike to school by herself, but it’s really difficult to (allow it) because... the traffic... can make it quite dangerous.
"With a few modifications we can make this a safer and more sustainable neighbourhood."
For more information on the Walk Bike & Roll Fort Richmond initiative go to FortRichmondAT.ca.