Making rural Communities more walkable

Walkabiltiy in a Rural Setting

Walkabiltiy principles are applicable to rural communities. The intent of a walkable community is not to make the entire countryside “walkable” but instead to ensure that those hamlets and smaller communities are themselves walkable.

Rural Challenges of Walkability

·  Rural "car culture"

·  Limited tax base but extensive road network to keep maintained

·  Lack of experience/expertise at staff and council in planning for
active transportation

·  Transportation = Roads = Vehicles

·  Mix of municipal, county, provincial roads/highways means   sharing responsibility for maintenance and improvements

·  Villages were not located/planned for growth

 

Keys to Success

  • Looking to all sectors for partners
  • Looking for and using “teachable moments” to promote walkable communities
  • On-going communication with local decision makers to build the case for walking, biking and creating active communities
  • Identifying village hubs and promoting a doable message “Park the Car and Get Moving”
  • Using the nature of small communities to our advantage – e.g. committee members wear a variety of hats – use them for
    contacts; find local “ambassadors” to act on the message; look for high profile locations to hold activities – in a small town, people notice!
  • It’s okay to start small, e.g. Walk to School Day
  • Partnership with our local community economic development organization – economic development is a priority with local governments and recognizes the connection between health and economic development
  • Continue to partner with trail groups to build on-the-ground infrastructure
  • Build relationships with local schools to involve kids, parents, staff in Active & Safe Routes to School
  • Document your work for others to learn and build on

Source: Kate Hall & Sue Shikaze, Communities in Action Committee - Haliburton County; presentation, Walk21 Conference, Toronto, ON 2006.