The topic of walkability has come up many times.
With the draft of the Okotoks Climate Action Plan, there is mention of the intent to create walkable neighborhoods “where amenities and necessities are accessible on-foot.”
I commend the Town on the pathway system we have in town, and am always impressed with how well they are maintained. However, there is far more to “walkability” than just pathways.
I live near Walmart and often walk to the stores nearby. I also walk my kids to school almost every day. Having three young children, I often walk with strollers or wagons, to haul kids and groceries.
The entire Cornerstone development was not made for pedestrians. To walk from houses to Walmart with a stroller, the path leads to a curb to hoist the stroller over to get to the parking lot.
To get from Walmart to Canadian Tire, one must cross the road multiple times because the sidewalk suddenly ends on one side of the street. To access Canadian Tire from the north or east end, one must cross the road not at the crosswalk but in the middle of the road as the sidewalk abruptly ends there too.
To cross Southridge, some intersections require the pedestrian to first cross to the parallel side as it won’t allow you to cross on one side, or to step into mud to push the button as the concrete is not poured up to the light post.
Another mobility issue is in the winter when roads are plowed, pushing the snow into huge mounds at the curbs that force pedestrians to climb over these snow banks.
I realize of course, it is difficult to keep every single curb cleared in the winter, but it is just one of many little things that are not thought out for pedestrians. If walkability is to be encouraged in commercial areas, more thought needs to be put into where sidewalks go, safety at road crossings, ability to access pedestrian light buttons, and sidewalk ramps for accessibility. Try walking around in any commercial area with a stroller or walker and see how frustrating it is.