Improving Active Travel to School
Canmore is in the midst of its first School Travel Planning project, a pilot project at Lawrence Grassi Middle School (LGMS) in partnership with the Canmore Community Cruisers, the Town of Canmore, and the Alberta Traffic Safety Fund. With the help of a stakeholder committee, lots of data was collected this fall to determine how students get to school.
Committee members were ecstatic to discover that between 30 – 40% of LGMS students bike to school. The Canadian average is 2%. Many of these students are committed to biking all winter, no matter what mother nature throws at them! A further 10 – 14 % walk or roll to school. But the journey on foot or on wheels is not without its challenges. Barriers and concerns that limit walking, biking and rolling to school where uncovered in reviewing 208 family surveys that were completed by students and parents. The main concerns identified were:
- Drivers speeding & roads along school routes with high speed limits
- Drivers failing to see and yield to people at crosswalks and intersections
- Navigating the round-about at Kananaskis Way and Bow Valley Trail
- Lack of a safe route for children travelling from Teepee Town
An ambitious action plan has now been finalized with the goal of making the active school journey to LGMS safer, more enjoyable and efficient. The action items include $200k of infrastructure improvements along routes to school that will prioritize walking and cycling over car traffic on key residential streets, identifying preferred routes to school, improving student’s safe cycling skills, improving student’s visibility in low light conditions and encouraging students to walk, bike, and roll to school.
Andy Esarte, Town of Canmore Manager of Engineering remarked: “We live in an incredible community where the streets are safe, our schools are connected and our children value walking and cycling as ways to grow their independence. Avoiding vehicle trips where possible is fundamental to making our transportation system work and we need to ensure that the improvements we make to our streets encourage all people to walk and cycle when possible to do so. In this way we will have the room on our roads to drive and park when we need to.”
One action item completed is a visibility campaign the Cruisers undertook with financial assistance from the Town of Canmore and the Alberta Traffic Safety Fund. 100 sets of bike lights were distributed around town, along with reflective materials to help people be seen in the dark. A successful “Light my Ride” Workshop was held last month. Next up: as part of the Cruiser’s #BikeAllWinter campaign, they will be encouraging people to participate in International Winter Bike to Work Day on Feb 10th. School Travel Planning is a community project that benefits all even if you never walk or bike. Research has shown conclusively that the more we can encourage walking and cycling, the safer it becomes for all road users and the less car crashes there are. It is a win, win, win for all of Canmore.