Walking improvements needed How can the City help residents use their cars less?
Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, 2013

whitehorsewalks.com
walker

September 5, 2013. Active transportation would happily have people walk and take a bus.What it each bus stop was well marked with a schedule and route map. Surely the cost would be minimal. I've seen where residents have taken this into their own hands at one Copper Ridge stop and just taped up the route time. Brilliant!

The current Range Road planning exercise shows the importance of both an active greenspace network plan and a high-level city staffer who believed strongly in walking and walking trails. Nothing should happen in the city without that person being able to make suggestions, ask questions at a very early stage in any process. We need an internal walking champion!

The recent Copper Ridge to Porcupine Ridge trail through the wetlands below Copper Ridge shows again (think Millennium Tral and bridge) how an interesting trail will becomes a destination, encouraging walkers and bicyclists to expand their horizons. But walking to the trailhead is still not thoughtout. The public walkways are not inviting and walking alongside roads like Falcon Drive is boring. And what about a crossing over the next wetlands to the Copper Haul Road. Active transportation travellers will come from these recreational trail converts.

August 22, 2013. Seems there's a big push that biking is the solution to active transportation. As I walked home from the market it occurred to me that...

Walking is spontaneous, but biking...did you bike to work? then you have to bike home; if you didn't bike to work, then you can't bike home.

July 20, 2013. There's a lot of pushback it seems from those that say recreational walking is not really the issue here. That the city only wishes to consider active transportation, "" How can they be convinced that it's doable? Riverdale people seem to be a target. I wondered if Riverdale was much closer than say Hillcrest, or Takhini or Northland Trailer Park. Step one for me as always is to make a rough map.

For comparison, I made the destination the corner of 4th and Main. Generally I chose to follow paved trails if they we obviously faster(shorter). But I know that I'm also more into quieter, more interesting scenic routes. So the map is a bit of a mix. Comments? (click for bigger). See also What makes a trail nice to walk? Think of walking about 4 km per hour for a moderate pace. I think what this shows is the need for getting people to be recreational walkers first, then active transportation walkers.

July 19, 2013. Two more things:

  • How about making 'free' employee parking with governments a cost to them. Then people can choose to walk or take a bus with a true cost.
  • Often as you stand at a corner waiting for the light to change, you don't get a walk signal because you didn't press the walk button. Example, leaving Shipyards after the farmer's market around 6 and crossing Second Avenue. This should automatically give a walk light. Likewise at the Mall on Fourth, the walk has to be requested. Crazy!

July 16, 2013. Notes for the City of Whitehorse's Transportation Demand Management Plan.

"Walking Culture" should be integral to this plan. Walking is a basic skill, requiring no special equipment.

From Canada Walks (Case Study: City of Whitehorse) where city staff said:

  • We have invested significantly in active transportation infrastructure, now we want to see a shift from recreational walking to walking for Active Transportation.
  • We are looking for an outside critique on what we have accomplished, what our strengths are and what we need to improve on if we want to attain a vision of a more walkable, sustainable community.
  • We want to
    • Learn how to better utilize our existing paths and trails.
    • Engage community groups in promoting active transportation.
    • Integrate walking policy into key documents and plans."

From Do places seem farther away when you have to walk to get there?

  • "The whole idea is to be making the more environmentally benign modes of transportation—cycling, walking, public transport—irresistible," he says. "What types of carrots can we throw out there and what will allow people to understand that these other modes are more easily in their reach?"

From The important difference between a public space and a 'common'

  • "This means we must stop sprawling out and make better use of our existing developed places, especially by reinvesting in older city neighborhoods and taking advantage of opportunities to improve and complete sprawling, isolated newer suburbs with more walkable places."

To think about:

Walking Tourism

The Yukon is well positioned to create a niche tourism product: walking. My recently created walking tourism page looks at the benefits of this, both Yukon-wide, but more specifically from a Whitehorse walker's perspective. My many year's involvement in publishing, both as K-L Services and Lost Moose Publishing, gives me a good insight into this concept.

As a component of walking tourism, there is a need for a walking culture — they go together hand-in-hand. Likewise, looking at walking as a component of active transportation, there's a need for a broader walking culture.

Developing a culture of walking

The City's has said it wishes to have a walking culture. The more people in areas such as above-the-airport, Riverdale, Takhinni and Mountainview choose to walk downtown to go to work, the less stress on roads and parking; they'll also be healthier and happier.

  • The focus of active transportation is in getting to work, getting to a particular destination, as opposed to walking for pleasure. Active transportation routes go direct, even alongside roads; walking for pleasure uses quiet, interesting, scenic, often longer routes. The latter serves a larger need, likely used year-round.
    • The goal should be to make walking appealing, ie, walking by the side of busy roads is not attractive, nor is sharing a trail or path with motorized vehicles like snowmobiles and ATVs.
    • In Whitehorse, active transportation is often directed at cycling. The active transportation cycling option is less desireable in winter, cold and rain.
    • An example here is building a paved trail alongside the highway beside the airport. This will be well liked by non-winter cyclists, but will be a bleak place to travel in the winter. The recreational route through the tank farm area is far more inviting, year round. It also is the route used by residents of the McIntyre subdivision, as well as most walkers in the area.
    • Walking for pleasure needs to be an important city goal. Local-level trails, for instance, Hillcrest and Granger's Paddy's Pond trails, are critical for walking loops. City trails people say these trails are unsustainable; rather, wetland trails need to be made interesting and sustainable when they are critical to neighbourhood walking.

Administration

  • We are a small population living in a spread-out wilderness city. Trail and greenspace money should be spent wisely. Big solutions are expensive and may not work. Active transportation and recreation should complement each other.
    • There needs to be a more realistic budget allocation for trails; if a tiny fraction of money spent on the roads aspect of transportation was spent in thinking about recreational walking needs, I could be spending more of my time photographing scenery and plants!
    • We need alternatives to paving trails. $400,000 for paving a small piece of trail by the airport is five times the trail budget of $80,000. $100,000 for landscaping by the multiplex, never mind the on-going upkeep.
    • Consolidate efforts of the city's active transportation and trails departments. The city's trail committee needs to have a walker as a permanent stakeholder position.
  • The city needs a staff position to champion walking.
    • This person would monitor city activities with a mission to ensure any possibility of a better walking experience is considered. This shouldn't be a junior position as their role would be as an internal walking advocate. An example would be to ensure zoning doesn't cause future blockages of walking opportunities.
    • Planning initiatives have to address city growth. For instance, the first draft plan of a cleaned-up tank farm had almost 40-50% being proposed as industrial commercial. This large piece of land is a 10-minute walk from the Canada Games Center, ski trails; a 15-minute walk from downtown. Except for an industrial strip along highway, this should be residential.

Connections

  • The Alaska Highway blocks access to downtown for above-the-airport walkers. Roadways such as the Alaska Highway, Mountainview Drive, Hamilton Blvd. should not have precedence over walking residents. Styles of safe pedestrian crossings need to be considered.
  • Public right-of-ways need to be clearly marked, both on neighbourhood/city maps, as well as in planning-zoning-style maps. These walkways need to be seen to be clearly for public use and have a distinctive trail marking at both the street end and the greenbelt end of the walkway.
    • New development, even in private land blocks, need to have well-thought-out public right-of-ways.
    • We need community/neighbourhood maps showing destinations, trails and public right-of-ways.

Other observations

  • A couple of times this week I had to make extra trips downtown related to getting medical paperwork. Having blank government forms available on-line would have saved one; being able to get an appointment form as a PDF would have saved the second.
  • July 17, 2013. If notice of a cancelled CASM meeting was on-line I could have saved a third wasted trip downtown.
  • There needs to be some penalty taxation rate for the large amount of real estate downtown that is undeveloped. It is a waste of valuable space, it forces the city to look at spreading out into greenspaces, and most of all, makes a lot of downtown look like a wasteland. These properties are eyesores!
  • Rather than design the city to have ever-larger arterial roads pumping traffic into the downtown, some sort of shuttle system with parking lots outside the downtown area needs to be looked at.
  • The general scarcity of corner stores means that people often need to drive for even the most simple of grocery items.