Creating “roll and stroll” communities

August 25th, 2021

A walkable community – according to Canada Walks – has great walking and wheeling experiences, safety, accessibility, connections, comfort, destinations, and encouragement for active transportation of all kinds. (Photo by Rellinger Photography for GreenUP.)

By Sara Crouthers and Jaime Akiyama, Program Coordinators at GreenUP

September is nearly here. Families have back-to-school on their minds. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and federal election may also be on your mind as you think about what kind of future we’re creating for our kids.

Rapid climate action is necessary to create a sustainable and inclusive future. Families can be an integral part of that climate action by making a plan for active school travel.

Active school travel can include walking, wheeling, or cycling to school, as well as taking a school bus. If you must drive, the Park and Stride approach includes active school travel: park a few blocks away and walk the final stretch. Active school travel keeps school zones safe and reduces harmful vehicle emissions.

GreenUP’s Active School Travel (AST Ptbo) team is offering a contest to encourage families to make climate action part of back-to-school routines this year. The Frame Your Trip photo contest give you a chance to win prizes and awards when you share photographs of active school travel with GreenUP!

Here’s how it works. As you enjoy active school travel routes around the city or county of Peterborough snap a photo of a favourite spot, something you look forward to on your route, or something that needs improvement.

To enter the contest, share those photos with @ptbogreenup via a direct message on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, or email to sara.crouthers@greenup.on.ca

During School Travel Planning, parents, school partners, municipal staff, and councilors perform a community walk-about (another type of Roll and Stroll Check or Walk Audit) to identify potential ways to improve school travel. (Photo by Natalie Stephenson.)

Everyone will be included in a random draw for prizes, and a panel of judges will select the top photos from Selwyn Township to be featured on the covers of the township’s upcoming School Travel Plans. Deadline to enter is September 30, so start rolling, strolling, and sharing those pics!

If you are wondering where to start, a Roll and Stroll Check is a great first step. It is a neighbourhood assessment of common areas used by all forms of active travel for individuals of all ages and abilities: walking, wheelchairs, assistive devices, bikes, strollers, scooters, etc.

Roll and Stroll Checks are more or less the same thing as Walk Audits. Walking is only one way to get around, so approaching these checks with rolling and strolling in mind helps include consideration for accessibility and all forms of active travel.

Doing a Roll and Stroll Check before school starts can help you find routes that are safe, efficient, and fun so that you can start the first day of a school with active school travel habits that last all year long. Doing these assessments can also empower your children, friends, and neighbours to engage in longer-term efforts to create a healthier community.

According to the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, when we design and plan inclusive walkable cities, we “consider persons, not cars. Walkable cities are a livable built environment that leads to whole happy and healthy lives for the people who live in them.” The same values apply at the family: families want neighbourhoods that support whole, happy, and healthy lives!

Inclusive walkable communities are equitable and accessible communities . Common destinations such as schools, pharmacies, and grocery stores are nearby. Road design functions safely and easily for all road users. In addition to sidewalks and crossings, curb cuts, public washrooms, water bottle refill stations, places to sit, places to play, and more can make a route walkable, equitable, and accessible.

Add some fun to your Roll and Stroll Check with a little I Spy Bingo Game. Don’t forget to take some pictures of what you Spy for the Frame your Trip Photo Contest! (Photo by Natalie Stephenson.)

“A walkable community and a sustainable community are synonymous,” notes Lilian Dart, a graduate student at Trent University researching in the Sustainability Studies program. “Imagine a Peterborough where you can connect to nature and your neighbours, all while understanding that your community is accessible, and taking actionable steps in the fight against climate change. It begins with small changes to our built environment that promote and include walkability.”

Before you start your Roll and Stroll Check, think about how you will collect and record information. You may use a checklist or a map. Kids may enjoy eye-spy or bingo activities to look for infrastructure that supports active travel, such as crosswalks, signage, and traffic-calming measures. You can find a great checklist via the 8-80 Cities Project here: https://www.880cities.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Walk-Audit-English.pdf

Photographs are a great way to collect and present data, and photos can be very powerful when accompanied by your thoughts. (Plus, photographs are necessary to enter our “Frame your Trip” contest!)

Your Roll and Stroll Check can help with your personal back-to-school plans, but you can also use what you learn to contribute to larger planning processes. For example, the City of Peterborough is currently seeking feedback on the Transportation Master Plan update.

Also, if you are in Selwyn Township, you can send along what you learn through our online Student Travel Planning survey. “Selwyn Township wants to promote active and alternative modes of transportation other than personal vehicles,” adds Hillary Bradshaw, Climate Change Coordinator for the Township of Selwyn. “Regardless of how your children currently get to school, Selwyn residents with school-aged children are encouraged to complete the community travel survey.” The survey is available at https://www.greenup.on.ca/program/school-travel-planning

Facing a school zone that is packed with cars in no-parking areas can be intimidating and risky for young cyclists. For families that must drive to school, parking a few blocks outside the school zone and walking can help keep the school zone safe and free of congestion. (Photo: Leif Einarson)

Every step towards climate action – no matter how small or imperfect – is a step in the right direction. We need top-down government and corporate action. We also need grass-roots action, like neighbours and families sharing what matters to them.

Active school travel and Roll and Stroll Checks are tools for climate action that are accessible for all.

Further reading:

 Peterborough City and County – Active Transportation and Health 2020 Indicators Report: https://www.peterborough.ca/en/city-services/resources/Documents/ATI-Report-2020-WEB-Acc-FINAL.pdf

Walk Score – Walkability Index (assigns a numerical ‘walkability score’ to any address in Canada, the United States or Australia): https://www.walkscore.com/cities-and-neighborhoods/

Safe Routes Partnership – Get To Know Your Neighbourhood with a Walk Audit: https://www.saferoutespartnership.org/sites/default/files/get_to_know_your_neighborhood_with_a_walk_audit.pdf

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Active School Travel Peterborough

Active School Travel Peterborough

Active School Travel (AST) Peterborough promotes the use of active and efficient transportation for the daily trip to school, addressing health and traffic safety issues while taking action on air pollution and climate change. AST Peterborough is a partnership between many organizations including GreenUP, Peterborough Public Health, City of Peterborough, Kawartha Pine ...

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Active School Travel Peterborough

Active School Travel Peterborough