While I was reading through this recent article on a pedestrian study being carried out in Canberra, the Capital City of Australia, I thought, how nice would it be to undertake this study in smaller towns and cities in Canada…

Urban Design Forum – Creating a Walkable City Centre in Canberra

Intelligent Space Partnership Ltd, a London based consultancy developed a model that established pedestrian flows for the existing areas and predicted flows in future development areas of Canberra Central.

I chastised myself, “don’t be silly Mike, no one walks in small town Canada!”

Unfortunately, the partial truth of that statement is seen in who actually does walk; the poor, the elderly, and moms with young children are about it.


Now to be fair, the town I live in is not alone in this trait, but seriously, something should be done to reduce the dependence on motorized transportation and make the roads friendlier for bikes and pedestrians.

The average person doesn’t walk.

They will drive the 100 meters from Safeway to Dairy Queen rather than walk.

But is it all their fault?

Or is it actually difficult or dangerous to attempt walking through typical North American commercial and big box store areas? Now that would be a study worth reading.

Small towns and cities don’t have the means to do these large scale studies, but what they can do is encourage healthy and sustainable living through policy and leading by example to the community they serve.

It’s interesting to think that Canberra would feel the need to carry out a study like this, in my mind, the have more meters of paved trails and paths per person than any other city I can think of. Walking and cycling are encouraged.

What pedestrian stories do you have from your town? Is it dangerous to walk through your town? What improvements have you seen in recent years to the pedestrian networks where you live?

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Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.