Movers and Shakers: How Active Transportation Champions Can Change a Community

On May 16th, BCAHL hosted an engaging webinar on active transportation. We heard from three unique perspectives and projects happening in our province.

There are many benefits to active transportation whether that is reduction in traffic congestion to lower greenhouse gas emissions to increasing tourism revenue, in addition to physical activity, mental wellbeing and quality of life, the latter three being of particular interest in our work on chronic disease prevention.

According to a Sentis poll conducted for BCAHL in 2017, seven in ten British Columbians said they’d be motivated to walk or bike more often with improved routes and 75% support dedicated funding for that infrastructure. But active transportation encompasses more than walking and biking, it covers accessibility, road safety, transit, and other physical modes of getting around such as wheeling, snowshoeing or canoeing.  It connects us to our communities, neighbourhoods, outdoors and physical selves.

Our province is on the cusp of having its first ever Active Transportation Strategy as a part of the Clean BC plan. We know that British Columbia leads the way for active transportation in Canada but falls far behind places like the Netherlands and Sweden.  However, we feel like it won’t be that way for long with the inspirational Community Champions that were highlighted in this webinar along with multiple partners across the province.

We began our webinar with a quick audience poll: What is your primary mode of transportation (walk; roll or cycle; drive; transit; or multiple transportation modes?)  41% of the audience who participated in the poll chose the last option, multi-modal.

When our first presenter, Dean Murdock from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, kicked off the webinar, he commented that multi-modal commuting is consistent with their findings, which show that most people don’t go around by a single mode; they’re not just cyclists or transit users or walkers but multi-modal commuters. Those findings will inform the Active Transportation Strategy and help reinforce the idea of multi-modal connectivity and the importance of an integrated network.

Dean also gave us an excellent overview on the process behind creating the active transportation strategy, and put forward the important idea that every trip we take starts with active transportation even if only for the first few steps.

We are impressed by the speedy timeline and so pleased to share that the province’s first Active Transportation Strategy will be unveiled at the BC Active Transportation Summit June 17 and 18th.

Our next two presenters were recipients of a Ministry of Health’s Physical Activity Strategy Active Communities grant.  We were excited to hear from these community champions about their innovative projects aimed to create active people and active places.

Natalie Corbo presented on the inventive GoCNV pilot project, a neighbourhood-based initiative where residents in the City of North Vancouver were recruited to try to change their travel behavior to more active modes.  One of the goals of the project was to look for ways to address the missing piece of encouragement that could help change norms in the city of how people get around.

It was the first time the City of North Vancouver took on initiative like this at the neighbourhood scale and Natalie shared so many important pieces of data along with lessons learned.

Our webinar finished with Dr. Charles Helm presenting on Promoting Universal Access in Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark.  The visuals of his project were breathtaking and just as notable is the fact that Tumbler Ridge is one of only three UNESCO Global Geoparks in North America (there are 140 in 33 countries across the globe).

Charles highlighted the ways a dedicated group of volunteers (logging in over a 100 volunteer hours on some projects!) made trails more accessible in Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark.  We also learned that thanks to the acquisition of the trailrider (a “wilderness wheelchair”), just about the entire 100 km trail network is now accessible to everyone if you have the porters. The trailrider is in use in the visitor centre and anyone can apply to use it.

We want to thank our dynamic line-up of speakers for their informative and engaging presentations and we want to thank our audience for their participation and great questions that added a lot to the discussion on active transportation in our province.

You can listen to the full webinar at the link below.

SPEAKER PROFILES:

BC’s Active Transportation Strategy:

Dean Murdock is the project manager for the Province’s Active Transportation Strategy. He is a former municipal Councillor, serving on Saanich Council for three terms until 2018, when he decided not to seek re-election.

Dean has two children, 9 and 7 years old. When he’s not shuttling them to dance, soccer and baseball, he enjoys cycling, running and playing guitar.

GoCNV: Active Transportation Individualized Marketing Pilot: 

Natalie Corbo is the Sustainable Transportation Coordinator at the City of North Vancouver. In this role, she coordinates and develops programming and policy to support the uptake of active and sustainable transportation modes. Natalie has a background in human geography and urban planning, and has worked on active transportation in Toronto and Vancouver. She has been passionate about cycling and public transit since high school, when she first discovered the freedom these modes could offer.

Promoting Universal access in Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark: 

Charles Helm has been a family physician in Tumbler Ridge since 1992. He is the author of nine books, on the Tumbler Ridge area and the history of the northern Rockies and was a founder of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation in 2002. Charles was instrumental in the proposal that led to the creation of the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark in 2014, and was its first President. He is the co-founder of the Emperor’s Challenge Mountain Run. He and his wife Linda live in Tumbler Ridge and have two children, Daniel and Carina.

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