Port Moody group wants to take the fear out of getting around

A newly-formed group of Port Moody parents is hoping to get the city to think differently about how traffic moves through the city to create a safer environment for kids walking to school and pedestrians in general.

Lesley Evans Ogden led a delegation from the Port Moody Active Transportation Committee in its pitch to council’s committee of the whole Tuesday. She said the car-first mentality of much transportation planning in suburban communities isn’t good enough anymore.

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“Suburbs have focussed on making things easy for the car while pedestrians and cyclists are an afterthought,” Evans Ogden said, adding the committee originally formed late last year out of concerns about speeding drivers near some of Port Moody’s schools, especially in the Glenayre neighbourhood.

She said safety challenges faced by pedestrians and cyclists are only getting worse as higher density developments are built with little consideration for how residents living in those projects might get around their own immediate neighbourhood.

That’s particularly important for getting kids to and from school safely, Evans Ogden said. 

“We want our kids to have the independence to walk and cycle to school.”

She said fear often plays too big a role in determining how people choose to get around; that’s why traffic jams are common around schools as parents shuttle their kids to and from home in the family vehicle, even if they live only a few blocks away. That traffic not only adds to the safety challenge, it also contributes to global concerns like health and fitness as well as climate change.

“Transportation touches on so many areas,” Evans Ogden said.

The Road Safety Law Reform Group of BC, which is made up of representatives from the legal community, cycling organizations and research groups, has advocated for a province-wide default speed limit of 30 km/h for local streets without a centre line. Evans Ogden said there’s evidence that will save lives, but there's no one-size-fits-all solution for entire communities..

She suggested a mix of better enforcement of existing speed limits, installation of warning beacons near troublesome crossings, along with the construction of wider sidewalks and more bike lanes physically separated from car traffic, will make getting around safer for everyone, as well as improve our well-being.

“Cycling and walking brings a bigger sense of community,” Evans Ogden said. “It’s healthier for people.”

4/18: Clarified Lesley Evans Ogden's position on the imposition of 30 km/h speed limits

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