On average, one pedestrian is injured in a collision each day in Calgary. Many more injuries occur in parking lots and often go unreported. The financial cost to society from pedestrian deaths and injuries, estimated at $120 million per year for Calgary alone, is staggering. The impact to individuals and families left to cope with the recovery, and sometimes a lifetime of disabilities, is immeasurable.
These financial, social, and emotional costs were driving factors behind City Council’s decision to unanimously support STEP FORWARD, our new pedestrian strategy and safety action plan. I have been striving to make Calgary a better place to walk for many years and I am extremely proud of this work. The strategy also goes beyond safety to encourage more Calgarians to walk more often by making it easy, accessible, and enjoyable.
We focused the plan into four areas with a list of 50 actions for short, medium, and long term improvements:
- Safety - reduce collisions and increase the feeling of personal safety.
- Plan and Design - remove barriers to walking by improving connections and the walking experience for people of all ages and abilities.
- Operate and Maintain - manage sidewalks as public spaces and seasonally maintain and repair infrastructure.
- Educate and Encourage - remind citizens about shared responsibilities for road safety and encourage walking for improved health, recreation, and commuting.
Speed is a crucial factor in the severity and survival rate of any collision, especially ones involving those walking and cycling. Lower speeds save lives. From Toronto to Boston to Edinburgh, cities around the world are reducing speed limits on residential streets for the sake of safety. Closer to home, Airdrie introduced 30 km/h on all residential streets in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the recommendation to reduce speed limits on residential streets in Calgary was not supported by Council at this time.
Every Calgarian is a pedestrian. A pedestrian is someone walking (or rolling in a wheelchair) to school, from one business meeting to another, to catch the train or bus, or for an evening stroll. Ward 7 boasts a higher proportion of people who walk than most other areas of Calgary, partly due to its nearness to downtown, but also because of its walkable neighbourhoods, shopping streets, river pathways, and access to schools and transit. The importance of walking to Ward 7 residents is one of the many reasons that I championed STEP FORWARD, as well as other initiatives that support active travel. As we implement this plan over the next decade, you will see Calgary become a safer, more walkable, and more enjoyable city.
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This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.