Ottawa Update - Fall 2016

IWALK 2016 is almost here 

October is International Walk to School (IWALK) Month – a great time to celebrate the joys and benefits of walking to school!

Visit our web site to register your IWALK event (and receive a certificate of participation), download free posters and stickers and find celebration ideas.

Also back for 2016 is the IWALK Challenge sponsored by Ottawa Public Health. Your school can win prizes for organizing a walk-to-school event anytime in October. Contact your school nurse for details.

And don’t forget that Ecoschools can earn up to 9 certification points when they promote walking & wheeling to school. Check out this great active transportation campaign kit to learn more
.

School Travel Planning: thanking our volunteers

As four more schools graduate from the Ottawa School Travel Planning (STP) Program, we at Green Communities Canada (GCC) want to thank the principals, teachers, parents and students whose time and commitment are so vital to the success of our efforts. STP only works with the help of these volunteer champions who assist with data collection, action plan implementation and advocacy for active transportation. Here are just a few examples of what they have helped make happen in their communities:  

Osgoode PS:  In 2014 the school held its first IWALK event - a Halloween march! Students in their  Halloween costumes took part in a mini-parade down Osgoode Main Street to the local arena that now serves as an alternative park & walk location for families looking to avoid congestion in the school zone.  
St. Andrew CS: Annual bike rodeos saw up to 80 students riding their bikes to school and learning safe cycling skills. The biking numbers at this school are so high they may need another bike rack!
Queen Elizabeth PS: QEPS has made great progress in fostering active transportation from infrastructure improvements to the launch of a Walking School Bus in spring 2016. A special shout out to Ms Charlton’s Grade 7 class for promoting Walking Wednesdays!
St. Gabriel CS: One of the first schools to join the Ottawa Walking School Bus program, St. Gabriel also participated in a sidewalk painting initiative with Ottawa Public Health and celebrated Winter Walk to School Day this past February. 

Making history: from busing to transportation

In April, 2016 the Board of Directors of the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) made history when it approved a new active transportation policy. This is a first not only for OSTA but also for school transportation consortia in Ontario (and quite possibly Canada). The policy broadens OSTA’s definition of transportation to include students who live within a school’s walk zone as well as those eligible for busing. It also commits the organization to support programs and services that foster active transportation including School Travel Planning and the Walking School Bus. GCC commends OSTA and its parent school boards for its vision and leadership and for setting an example for other school boards and their transportation services. 

Walking School Bus: new routes, more passengers & Junior Leaders

The Ottawa Walking School Bus (WSB) program continues to thrive and expand.

Last April, four new routes were added at Queen Mary, RE Wilson, Connaught and Devonshire schools thanks to new funding from the Ottawa Healthy Kids Community Challenge, a provincially-supported initiative promoting physical activity.

More children are also joining the WSB. Registration currently sits at 139, a 24% increase over June. An additional 30 kids are wait listed. 

And last spring OSTA and the Ottawa Safety Council introduced WSB Junior Leaders on select routes. The pilot engaged “tweens” in leadership positions while encouraging active transportation. Grade 5 and 6 students were trained to support the adult WSB Leaders by providing  extra pairs of eyes and ears and modelling safe walking behaviour to younger students.  Check out the fun trip they went on as a thank you. Their level of commitment and dedication surpassed expectations and the program will continue and expand this school year. Contact Kelly Banks at the Ottawa Safety Council for details.

Extra eyes & ears: Junior Leaders Rowan, Emma & Hannah work with Leaders Lynette & Dean to help ensure all the Walking School bus passengers at Connaught PS arrive safely to school every day .

Crossovers improve some routes to school

The City of Ottawa has launched a three-year effort to install up to 180 new Pedestrian Crossovers (PXOs) across the city. PXOs are designated areas where walkers can cross the street and vehicles must yield the right of way. For use on low-speed roads, low-medium volume intersections, mid-block, and at roundabouts, they’re identified by specific signs, pavement markings and, in some cases, pedestrian-activated flashing beacons. See examples here. The first round of PXOs have already been installed but suggestions for additional locations to be considered in 2017 and 2018 can be made by contacting 311 or pedestriancrossover@ottawa.ca

New Pedestrian Crossover (PXO) at Hopewell PS.
GCC joined with the Ottawa Safety Council, Council on AgingTraffic Injury Research Foundation and others to speak in favour of the use of photo radar as a proven, effective and cost-efficient tool for enforcing traffic speeds when the issue came before the City’s transportation committee last May. The committee and city council eventually passed a motion requesting permission from the province to pilot photo radar in school zones. Queen’s Park has not yet responded to the request.

Worth reading & watching

Ontario Ministry of Education-funded feasibility study on School Travel Planning: http://www.saferoutestoschool.ca/blog/major-stp-study-completed

WSB Junior Leaders on live TV: http://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=942000

Ottawa-based Born to Walk author Dan Rubinstein reflects on STP walkabout: https://borntowalk.org/2016/04/29/safe-schools/

Toronto study identifies keys to safer environment for child pedestrians: https://goo.gl/BYdc4c

GCC’s Canada Walks department launches campaign for national walking strategy: http://canadawalks.ca/take-action/national-action-strategy/

Thank you to our generous funders
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440 Albert Street, Room C106
Ottawa ON K1R 5B5
Phone: 613-724-2727
Email: stp.ottawa@gmail.com

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