This is just a quick “did you know?” post. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has a policy that requires 93% of provincial residents to live within 10 kilometres of a highway, but it doesn’t have a policy or goal to get Ontarians to live within a walkable community. The government touts how proud they are at spending over $1-billion a year on highway upkeep and construction, but never once states that it could reduce those costs if they encouraged residents to drive less by living in more pedestrian-friendly communities. I recognize the important role highways play within our economy, but I’m always frustrated how little attention (and money) is dedicated towards helping municipalities establish vibrant, walkable neighbourhoods. The government’s Places To Grow plan is fine, but it only addresses where sprawl can happen and doesn’t provide enough information on how to build the right type of developments.
A popular litmus test for a walkable community, developed by Dan Burden of Walkable Communities, is called the Popsicle Test: in every neighbourhood there must be some destination worth walking to, close enough that if you walk there to get a popsicle, you could walk there in comfort and walk back without it melting. Since Burden lives in sunny Florida, the test is quite a stringent one.
If you’re interested in a local take on walkable communities, you should read the article by Spacing editor Dylan Reid from the Everyone is a Pedestrian, Summer 2004 issue.
photo by Adam Krawesky