Time to walk and roll

Cool Tips for a Hot Planet series

Avatar photo

By Ginny Colling

Ginny Colling was passionate about the environment before retiring from teaching college communications students. After retiring she trained with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project and has presented to numerous groups about the climate crisis.

During the pandemic a neighbour who found himself working from home walked off 80 pounds. We’d see him lapping the block multiple times a day. He’s still walking, sometimes with his son.

Many of us upped our activity with more time on our hands. Demand for bikes went through the roof. All of that has got to help the almost two-thirds of Canadians with health risks due to excess weight, as well as the 27 per cent of kids who are overweight or obese. All those folks have increased risks of diabetes and hypertension.

A report released in June by the World Health Organization says 20 minutes of biking or 30 minutes of walking on most days can reduce the chance of premature death by at least 10 per cent. The same report says foot- or pedal-powered commuting lowers heart disease risk by a similar amount, and Type 2 diabetes by 30 per cent. Bike commuters also showed a significantly lower rate of cancer-related death.

Then there are the environmental benefits. The same report said short car trips (16 km or less) are responsible for about 40 per cent of carbon emissions from vehicles. The more we can ditch the car for the bike or sidewalk, the more we can reduce pollution and help tackle the climate crisis. On one lovely spring day no fewer than 48 cars pulled up to an area public school to drop off kids. For those in towns or villages, could some of them be hoofing it to class?

October is International Walk to School Month (IWalk), including Walk to School Day on Oct. 5. Kudos to Parkview Public School in Lindsay for planning to take part this year.

Ontario Active School Travel offers resources for IWalk. It aims to help communities boost walking and wheeling to school. For OAST the benefits are healthier kids, less traffic and pollution, safer school zones and better marks. What’s not to like?

What Part Can We Play?

  1. Walk or bike to that store, appointment or lunch date. Think of it as part of your exercise routine. Further away? Put an electric bike on your wish list. You can use pedal power or not, your choice. With more paved shoulders in Kawartha Lakes, country walking or biking is getting a little safer.
  2. If you have kids in school:
    a) encourage them to walk or bike to school.  Too young? Consider walking or biking with them.
    b) talk to the parent council or school principal about taking part in IWalk this October. 
  3. This summer, if you find yourself in a community with a bike share program, park the car and wheel around town.

And finally, remember that our municipalities play an important planning role when it comes to street safety. They could do more.  Lindsay missed a big opportunity to add bike lanes when downtown Kent Street was revamped recently. Consequently the town still has the same .3 km of bikes lanes it had four years ago.

Before October’s municipal election, ask the candidates in your area what they’re prepared to do to promote safe, healthy, people-powered transportation. Will all new subdivisions and road expansions be required to include multi-use pathways with bike lanes and sidewalks?

With all the obvious benefits, isn’t it time to walk and roll?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.