Any Beltliner will tell you one of the best parts of living in the Beltline is its walkability. Feel like a coffee? Need to pick up some groceries? Showing off amazing public art to your friends? There’s so much within walking distance many people in our community don’t even own cars.
Our neighbourhoods directly influence our transportation choice
But walking isn’t just the best way to get around the Beltline, it’s also sustainable, cost efficient, and the cornerstone of The City’s Transportation Plan. But like all other municipal planning, pedestrian strategy involves taking in account the needs and interest of multiple stakeholders and demographics. Currently, walkable areas in Calgary are in the minority. Newer neighbourhoods have been built to primarily accommodate drivers, which causes the cyclical effect of fewer people choosing to walk. Children are walking to school less frequently and only about 8% of Calgarian adults walk to work.
What prevents people from choosing to walk
The City surveyed Calgarians to hear how much they were walking around their neighbourhoods and what prevents them from walking more. The most common reason people were not using walking as a mode of transportation was safety. Specifically, the following:
Unsafe street crossings and intersections
Speeding traffic and distracted drivers
Lack of separated sidewalks and pathways
We can do better in our neighbourhoods
When it comes to walking, it was clear to The City that there was a desire for improvement. And the STEP FORWARD plan was born. The plan takes into account immediate actions and long-term planning to improve the pedestrian experience. Some of the immediate actions included installing flashing crossing lights at more intersections, reducing speed limits in residential areas, adding mid-block crosswalks, and improving walking links to public transit stations.
Making our streets safer in the Beltline
So what does the mean for the Beltline? While the Beltline may be the obvious place to start because of its high pedestrian activity, many of the short-term pedestrian strategies seem aimed at suburban neighbourhoods. We believe in the need for the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association to provide a strong voice that advocates for the necessary investment from City Council so that the Beltline's neighbourhoods continue to thrive as strong cultural and social hubs of Calgary’s growing population.
You can be part of that voice.