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Safe Streets and Active Transportation

Duncan riding with his daughter near Bullen Field. This area has been identified as a priority for pedestrian improvements in Esquimalt’s Active Transportation Plan.

Esquimalt is a great place to walk and bike: but it could be so much better! There are many areas that lack sidewalks, and many vehicles don’t respect speed limits or stop signs in residential neighbourhoods. We need to make Esquimalt’s streets feel safer for children and adults so more people feel comfortable walking and biking in our community. Where they do exist, many of our sidewalks and overall street design does not meet current standards for safe and comfortable pedestrian areas.

The township’s recently adopted Active Transportation Plan (ATP) sets out a good direction, but we need to move from planning and discussion to implementation. As a resident of Lyall Street, I’ve watched how planning and stakeholder engagement has gone on for years with no tangible improvements.

I’d like Esquimalt to:

  • Properly fund the Active Transportation Plan, and ensure that its timelines are accelerated. Five years to build a “quick build” cycling network and 15 years to complete a cycling network is too long. Kids that are starting school this September deserve the ability to ride to school safely before they graduate from high school.
  • Reduce speeds on residential roads: the Active Transportation Plan makes clear that this is the most cost-effective way of meeting current engineering standards for safe and comfortable pedestrian environments.
  • Use “cheap but effective” approaches to slowing traffic and making our intersections safer. Not everything requires expensive engineering and ample concrete. Other jurisdictions use strategically placed planters with trees, bollards and paint to create better pedestrian environments at minimal cost: why can’t we?
  • Create an Active Transportation Advisory Committee made up of Esquimalt residents and stakeholders with expertise in accessible mobility, pedestrian advocacy and cycling and ask that Engineering refer all of their pedestrian and cycling projects to it for consultation and discussion. We need to ensure that upgrades, such as the current sidewalk upgrade at Wychbury and Lampson, help meet all of the township’s/ATP goals. Concrete is expensive and lasts for decades so it’s imperative that we get it right the first time.