Omar's blog

Welcome Back!

After a summer to remember, another school year has officially started here in BC. As usual, a lot of ink is being spilled urging motorists to keep the areas around school safe for students and walking families: drive slowly, obey posted speed limits and signs, and above all watch out for kids!

But how much of an issue is traffic safety in the school zone? Find out after the break.

HASTe recently helped engineering staff at the City of Vancouver prepare for an Active Transportation Conference in Montreal, Quebec, with a strong focus on school transportation safety.

What if big marketing companies made adds for buses?

Narrated in Danish, the add speaks in the universal language of the cool. Put it on HD, turn up your speakers and watch in full screen.

School Travel Champion Profile: Luciana Moraes

by Kristi Hendricks

Former City of Surrey Transportation Planner Luci Moraes knows that not only does it generally take the same length of time to walk or drive to schools, but actively commuting to school results in children arriving at school alert and happy to have spent some quality time with their parents. With this knowledge, she was able to take a proactive approach to her planning work, implementing plans which encourage active transportation, such as participating in school travel planning.

Read more about Luci and the City of Surrey's work promoting active school travel after the break.

As a part of the Safe and Active Schools program, Moraes was able to identify potential improvements for infrastructure upgrades to increase the safety and comfort of active travel routes.

Happy Bike to School Week!

That's a wrap folks: Spring Bike to School Week 2013 is officially over. Please click on the button below to submit your school's participation results. Your numbers help us build the case for supporting cycling to school in your community, and qualify your school and riders for a host of great prizes!

If your school missed Bike to School Week, you can still hold your own event using our online resources.

2013 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth

Active Healthy Kids Canada is a national organizations with a pretty clear mission (hint: its in their name). Every year they put out a Report Card that provides a comprehensive assessment of the current state of physical activity among Canadian children and youth.

This year's Report, entitled "Are We Driving Our Kids To Unhealthy Habits?" has a strong focus on active transportation. Active Healthy Kids Canada gives the country a D (down from a D+ last year) on the current state of active transportation activity for kids, but emphasizes that it is a key area in which quick gains can be made and long term impacts realized.

Learn more about this year's report after the break.

Like past reports, the 2013 version provides an excellent overview of the current state of physical activity for Canadian children at all levels.

Freedom to Roam

Every time I do a presentation to a group of adults, whether they're teachers, parents or community members, I try to lead off with a question: "How many of you walked or rode your bike to school?" It helps to break the ice and set the context, and I always see a lot of hands go up, some smiles, and a few people looking around the room.

Today, walking to school is something most adults can relate to from personal experience. Even if they drive their own kids to school, the idea of making the trip on foot just makes sense. In a generation, adults may think of walking to school as a quaint anachronism from a bygone age; our statistics tell us that most of them will have been driven to school their whole student careers.

The long road to Kindergarden

The sun is shining, it's Throwback Thursday, and with only a month to go until Bike to School Week, we thought it high time to dig this one out of the vault: Jackson Goldstone takes the long way to Kindergarden.

What's good for the goose...

A relatively recent addition to the street-scape in many BC communities, cross-walk timers seem to be sprouting up all over the place this Spring.

Many municipalities are planning to install counters at all full traffic-signaled intersections. The countdown timers provide pedestrians with more information as they decide whether or not to cross the street, thereby making the experience safer and more comfortable. 

But ironically, while the evidence suggests that crosswalk timers make crossing the street safer for pedestrians, reducing the likelyhood of collisions with automobiles, a new study suggests that they may be making pedestrian crossings more dangerous - for cars.

To all the drivers getting into trouble because of these benign additions to our communities, HASTe has your fix after the break.

The Link Between Kids Who Walk or Bike to School and Concentration Pt. 2

photo credit: HASTe's own Kerry Hamilton

Last fall, researchers in Denmark conducted a study involving 20,000 students to determine whether there was a connection between nutrition and students' ability to concentrate. Although this part of the study didn't yield the expected results, the team did find something unexpected and very interesting: children who walked or rode their bicycles to school seemed to be able to concentrate better than their peers who were driven.

Learn more about this connection after the break

A quick search will yield a number of articles and blog posts about the study.

Minimum parking requirements at schools make minimal sense

Minimum parking requirements in bylaws and planning determine the fewest number of free automobile parking spots a new building is required to have. A number of influential planners have pointed out the obvious problems with the premise of these minimum requirements. But with many drivers seeing free parking as something akin to a fundamental human right, the practice persists in most of the Western world.

Requiring free and plentiful parking is problematic for a number of reasons - it harms the environment, generates vehicle congestion, promotes suburban sprawl, encourages inactivity and drives up building costs (there's no such thing as truly free parking) - but requiring schools to provide abundant parking is particularly bad planning.

Find out why after the break.

While the cost of an entire school playground runs between $50,000 and $70,000, a single exterior parking spot costs over $10,000 to build, and an underground parking spot can cost up to $45,000.

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