Revitalization

Neighbourhood Plan Recognizes Need for Livable Streets

By Jason Leach
Published September 21, 2012

A draft neighbourhood action plan for Beasley, Keith McQuestin and Stinson neighbourhoods will be presented to the General Issues Committee on September 24, 2012.

This shows a great neighbourhood planning process underway in several Code Red neighbourhoods. Note the strong and repeated support for traffic calming and walkability. Here's the description of the stated goal to enhance livable and walkable communities:

A literature review of land use and traffic design found that communities with a denser residential pattern, more connected road ways, slower traffic and more road safety features saw higher rates of walking and biking in their residents. One study showed that a 5% improvement in the walkability of a neighbourhood can provide up to 32% increase in the minutes people spend in active transportation (Frank et al, 2006b). Walkable neighbourhoods support better fitness, reduced obesity in its residents and fewer air pollutants per capita in the environment than neighbourhoods that are more geographically dispersed and more automobile reliant (Frank et al, 2006b)(RWJF, 2009)(Papas et al., 2007).

Finally, residents who live in hazardous traffic environment experience "traffic stress", which includes fear of accidents, fear of crossing street, and lack of quietness. One study found residents who report high levels of traffic stress also have lower health status and greater incidence of depression (Glee and Takeuchi, 2004). Finally, the pollution related to high traffic areas is demonstrated to increase the incidence and severity of asthma in children (Chang et al., 2009).

Quality of life is affected by roaring traffic and dangerous roads, especially in poor neighbourhoods with fewer car owners. I'm certain that folks in the more affluent areas of the city can get behind traffic calming (not traffic "eliminating" as some people who resist change like to claim) plans that will start to improve quality of life for those neighbourhoods that need it.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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