Will Stittville high school environment be designed for walking and cycling?

Will Stittville high school environment be designed for walking and cycling?
Posted on February 14, 2018 | Bike Ottawa | Written on February 14, 2018
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Letter type:
Op-Ed

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

Stittsville gets a new high school. Often schools are built without taking into consideration on how to get there other than by car. The new high school in Stittsville provides a great opportunity to go beyond the mandatory bike rack and develop together with the city an active transportation plan, connecting the current and future neighbourhoods for safe cycling and walking.

Congratulations to the parents and students who championed a public high school in Stittsville. The school is long overdue. Teens spending their time being bussed out to Richmond weren’t being given the same opportunities for after-school activities, or for the extra morning sleep teens seem to require.

To be healthy, kids need physical activity. One of the easiest ways to stay active is to make it part of the daily trip to school. In this moment, Stittsville has a fantastic opportunity to be one of the first in the region to purposefully design safe routes for walking and cycling to school. This will provide much-needed independence for teens… and for their parents, too. No more need to shuttle kids to school.

Chief Public Health Report

Last summer, Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, released a report on designing for healthy living. One disturbing finding: only 22% of boys and 10% of girls in Grade 10 were physically active every day for at least 60 minutes. That is not good enough. However, there is tremendous potential to help Canadians live longer and healthier lives, just by how we design our built environment. The key is to design opportunities for physical activity right into the fabric of our cities.

Active transportation decreasing among teens

Tam writes that many Canadian students are not using active transportation, such as walking and cycling: “A survey of Canadian parents in 2012 showed that 58% walked to school as children while 28% of their own children walk to school today. Distance and safety are two key factors - children are more likely to use active transportation if their school is nearby and the route to get there is safe.”

High quality infrastructure

Stittsville is small enough that many teens now and in the future should be within walking and cycling distance of the new school. To make that possible, we need high quality sidewalks and intersections connecting to school. We need right-of-way for pedestrians at roundabouts. We need pathways, plowed in winter and lit in the early morning and evening to get to places. We need high-quality bike parking at schools, and at bus stops for those who live a bit further away. We also need to improve on safe driving near schools: last spring, the Ottawa Police handed out 500 speeding tickets in school zones (!)  in the first five days after spring break.

Clean slate

It doesn’t happen too often that the school board and the City can start with a clean slate. This is the ideal time to create an environment so well-connected and safe that active transportation becomes second nature for the many children who will attend this school in the generations to come. Healthy teens today will be more likely to be healthy adults tomorrow, and we all want the best life for our kids. Let’s strive to build not just a new Stittsville high school, but to build an active and healthy future for the children of Stittsville.   

Bike Ottawa

Citizens for safe cycling since 1984 

About The Author

Bike Ottawa is a 100% grassroots volunteer run organisation working hand in hand with residents on improving road safety for everyone. Founded in 1984, the organisation has hundreds of members and volunteers. In 2014... More

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