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Why few people walk in Vernon's East Hill

Cody Marwood, Luke Friesen, and Sandra Iroegbu revealed barriers to active transit with a survey conducted with East Hill residents.
April 24, 2013 - 10:30 AM

If you walked or biked to school, but your kids don't, you're not alone.

A group of students, along with representatives from the City of Vernon and Interior Health, say active transit has become a thing of the past, and they want to change that.

A group of UBCO students presented the results of a transportation survey geared at East Hill residents to Vernon city council Monday, Earth Day.

"The city, like most, is dependent on driving," Luke Friesen says. "But you can see a lot of people want to walk or bike."

They just don't feel safe doing it. Less safe about their kids doing it.

"There's this big fear of stranger-danger, but in reality, the more people on out on the road, the safer it is," Wendy Majewski, with the city's transportation demand management branch says.

Fear of getting hit by a car in areas with no sidewalks or bike lanes is a major barrier to active transit.

Participants in the survey said they would be more inclined to walk or bike if these concerns were addressed.

And while most East Hill residents live within five minutes of a bus stop, allowing them to pair walking or biking with public transit, they don't trust the service to get them where they need to be on time.

Pam Moore, with Interior Health, says the decline in active transport is having a detrimental effect on the health of youth.

"Historically, kids got their exercise walking or biking to school," Moore says. "Without that, there are significant increases in obesity, and that's only trending up."

Cody Marwood, one of the four UBCO students that conducted the research, grew up in the area. 

"I walked or biked to school in Coldstream," Marwood says. "Since then, much has changed in a short period of time. People just aren't walking anymore."

Sandra Iroegbu is on exchange from Nigeria, and she says back home, transportation habits are pretty different.

"There's not much driving to school," she says. "Most people walk or bike."

The students suggested linking 21 Ave. and Hwy 6 with a route termed the Polson Pathway. This would create a corridor for students from Vernon Secondary School and residents in general to the shopping centre at Polson Park.

Other ideas included adding bike lanes, guide posts and improved signage on streets where drivers tend to speed.

Coun. Patrick Nicol said he wanted action on the recommendations made by the students, and said council will be looking at ways to fund the improvements in the coming year.

Mayor Sawatzky complemented the students on their hard work. "I was very impressed with the depth of your work. I hope you get a good mark on it."

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call (250)309-5230.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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