Ecole Willows Elementary students get active!

Over the past 16 months, as part of the Capital Regional District’s Active and Safe Routes to School, Ecole Willows Elementary in the District of Oak Bay has been shaking things up, moving things around and just generally getting active. The school is situated on an idyllic residential road just a stone’s throw from Willows Beach. This serene location is disrupted twice a day, Monday through Friday, with the hustle and bustle of school pick-up and drop-off vehicle traffic.

The school has developed creative solutions to raise awareness of the benefits of active trips to school, and unique ways to address the locations in the surrounding area which were creating barriers to walking and cycling. One such location identified by the school was the intersection of Cadboro Bay Rd. and Bowker Ave.

To address concerns at the intersection, Willow’s parents formed a partnership with Abstract Designs, a local develop, and the District of Oak Bay. The partnership allowed information gathered through the data collection process of the Active and Safe Routes to School program to inform the District and developers about community perspectives on the intersection. With the intersection slated for redevelopment, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

A class of Willows students were enlisted as aspiring urban architects. Abstract Designs hosted a workshop for grade 5 students in the school’s gym. The students toured the intersection, learned about urban planning and engineering in designing transportation infrastructure, and then drew pictures of what they would like the area to look like.

These designs will be complete by the middle of February, at which point the students will have the opportunity to present their drawings to Oak Bay Council in support of active travel considerations for the intersection’s redesign.

For more information on this unique partnership, see the Victoria News article from November 23rd 2017.

Can 100% active travel to school be achieved?

Busy schedules, long distances, multiple destinations, traffic safety, inclement weather, convenience; these are just some of the reasons why more students than ever are being driven to school. Last October, these reasons were put to the test by one Victoria based school – Sir James Douglas Elementary – during Walk and Wheel Week SJD challenged everyone in its school community to travel actively to school for one day.

During the week leading up to the pinnacle 100%-in-one day event, driving families were encouraged to try out active options, such as ‘Feet on the Street’ (a walking school bus), transit, cycling, and ‘Drive to Five’ (parking a five-minute walk away from the school). Supportive resources, information, and a Best Routes to School map were added to the school’s website.

The result of all this effort? 98% active mode share! It was magical… but more importantly, it was (read: is) achievable.

Participants were rewarded with treats, prizes and PLAY. The school grounds were converted into one big play space and the staff and visitor parking lots were taken over by students and families who had used means other than driving to the immediate school site.

Video Credit: Victoria News

Article in Victoria News: