So exactly what is active transportation?
Simply speaking, it is any mode of transportation that you power with your own body. It is the most basic element of any transportation system. Walking, cycling, inline skating, skateboarding, running, jogging, pogo-sticking… all of these are active transportation. Almost every type of trip starts with walking, whether it’s to your car or to the bus, and cycling is not only healthy and affordable, but also the most mechanically efficient means of moving yourself around.
The City is poised to make great progress in supporting and promoting active transportation. A number of forward-looking plans have recently been approved by City Council. Most recently, a new official City policy on active transportation was approved by Council at their November 24th, 2009 meeting. This policy directly supports the new Transportation Master Plan, which was itself passed just recently, in September 2009.
Of course, high-level plans and policies can be vague on the details, so while they set the direction that we are going, it falls to several more specific plans to guide our day to day work. For the past few years, the City has been working on strategies for walking and cycling.
We have an updated Bicycle Transportation Plan which recommends the development of a network of on-street cycling routes, more bike racks on the street and on buses, improved education programs, and other supporting measures. For walking, two complementary plans have been developed: one for infrastructure, and one for broader measures to support walkability. The Sidewalk Strategy provides a plan for filling in gaps in the sidewalk network, and recommends ways to improve the accessibility of connections to transit service. Then, with basic infrastructure for walking taken care of, the Walkability Strategy (currently under development), looks at all the other ways to support, encourage, and properly plan for walking.
Finally, a funding strategy has been approved that will provide the stable, long-term support to make things happen.
Be prepared to watch Edmonton transform into a more walkable and cycle-friendly city.