Saturday, March 24, 2007

How to create a walking culture

There is a lot of desire to develop more density in the hopes that people will drive less and walk more, but this rarely seems to happen when planners are working on the city. So why do some neighbourhoods work and others not for having people be able to walk?

I do not have all the language and skills to address this fully, but I will try to do giv eyou my views on what is going on.

Currently I live close to town but not right in the centre of town. I can get most things I need within a moderate distance of my home - three major grocery stores, two malls, a rec centre, one library, the Gorge, schools, parks, and more. But all of it is more than 500 metres - a return walk to the local Fairway is a 45 minutes. My neighbourhood is better than most of the suburbs - one of the houses I am looking at the moment is not that far away, but the neighbourhood has already changed enough so that this house is walking distance from much at all.

My current house is well served by transit - there are 5 different bus routes within a very short distance of this house. I can get to UVic, Oak Bay, Downtown, Esquimalt, Camosun Interurban, VGH and Royal Jubilee without changing buses. Go slightly northwards to this new house and there is only really one bus route within a short walk and a few suburb/downtown routes not much further. The other house would make having to own two cars make more sense.

Also, moving from Victoria to Saanich means going from sidewalks to no sidewalks. Not having a formal place for walking reduces the amount of walking that will take place. Sharing road with cars is not

For a location to have a walking culture, there has to be the following things within 500 metres:
  • Schools
  • Grocery store
  • Recreation centre
  • Library
  • Work
  • Open space or parks

But not a lot of locations have all of this. When I think of greater Victoria and try to think of areas that can do this, the areas close to Tillicum road from the bridge to highway 1 are close to all of the needs except for the work needs -0 the library will open soon.

Areas in James Bay work but do not have the schools after grade 5 or the recreation centre or library.

Oak Bay village has everything but the work.

The Songhees area is missing the schools and recreation centre

The centre of Esquimalt is one of the best for achieving all of the needs if your work is military oriented.

If one were to move more of the office work further out from downtown, there is a good chance to bring the work closer to where people live. But it has to also allow for families or else it will not develop a long term sense of community. The Songhees area works for people when they do not have kids, so they tend to be pre-kid of post-kid, a rather odd age demographic distribution. 25-35 aand then 55+
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