by Jay Teneycke
The city of Regina needs to do more to develop and encourage alternative transportation options such as additional walking and cycling trails in our towns and cities.
That was the message Michael Haynes, an active transportation activist and author, had for the queen city when he spoke at a trails conferencelate last month.
Active Transportation is a term that refers to any non-motorized form of transportation such as waking, cycling, skateboarding and cross-country skiing.
“The goal is to encourage society to consider alternate means of transportation,” said Haynes, “especially when making shorter trips within the neighborhood.”
Haynes considers a short trip to be anything less that 2.5 km walking, or 8 km cycling. These short trips make up the majority of our daily travel and put additional, yet unnecessary stress on the cities roadways and infrastructure, which in turn lead to increased traffic congestion, air pollution, and decreased physical activity.
Canadian activity levels are now amongst the lowest in the world, only
21 per cent of the population meets Health Canada’s target of 30 minutes of physical activity per day. This is putting additional strain on the healthy care system and on the environment.
“Leaving your car at home and walking just a few kilometers more a day can have a significant impact on your health and the environments,” said Haynes
“With projected population growth as well as increased vehicle use our current road network in Canada is unsustainable. When it comes to the make up of our cities they are designed to facilitate car movement.”
It is only once government decides to act and begin building a network of urban trails and support alternative means of transportation that change can really begin.
Janine Daradich, a landscape architect for the City of Regina admits that demand from the community for more multiuse trails is increasing and that developing more of these types of paths has become an important aspect for the future.
Pending budget approval, the city is plans to spend almost 2 million dollars on the development of additional walking and cycling trails throughout the city over the next year.
“Specifically the city will begin building a multiuse trail in order to link A.E. Wilson Park with the Courtney Street extension in northwest Regina,” she said.
Earlier this year the city announced plans to convert a section of Montreal Street in the Core neighborhood into a pedestrian greenway.
While still in its infancy the city hopes to have a plan for developing the greenway in place by 2010