The City of Kingston has been designated as a 2016 Bronze Walk Friendly Community. This medium-sized city has done an impressive job of promoting walking and walkability and in engaging its citizens to increase walking rates. A large number of Kingston’s residents live close to their workplaces, providing a huge opportunity to increase the number of walkers. Kingston has consistently done well in the Commuter Challenge, and in 2016 recorded the highest participation rate in Ontario. The city has laid a great foundation for increasing walking through a variety of initiatives, plans and actions, including its stated vision of building “A Smart and Livable 21st Century City”, with an emphasis on active transportation as the guiding theme for all future municipal projects. Some highlights from Kingston’s application include:
- Kingston created an advisory committee with broad representation from various city departments and community stakeholders to develop an Active Transportation Master Plan (ATMP), which is scheduled to be completed by mid-2018.
- Kingston has an impressive data collection system for information on active transportation including surveys by both the City and Public Health every five years; soliciting feedback through open houses, workshops, website, email and telephone; yearly traffic counts, including pedestrians and cyclists, at intersections throughout the city; and the use of census data and data from the Canadian Community Health Survey. In addition, Public health conducted four surveys to determine seasonal baseline active transportation patterns and perceived barriers to using active transportation.
- More than 75% of the city’s sidewalk network has curb ramps and meets accessibility standards, and the city is committed to considering accessibility in all projects.
- Local government has undertaken several pedestrian-friendly initiatives including reducing the speed limit on a major artery to make walking safer; funding street design changes to ensure a positive walking experience; upgrading two existing courtesy crossings to create legal crosswalks, with plans for more crosswalk upgrades; and prioritizing pedestrians in its Waterfront Master Plan.
- Employing technology, through the creation of an app based series of guided walking tours with GPS capabilities and audio segments, to encourage walking.
- Kingston has consistently performed well in the Commuter Challenge, taking first place in its category of medium-sized cities from 2012 – 2016, with the highest participation rate in Ontario in 2016.
- The City also involves Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health in the technical review of development applications and is exploring opportunities to integrate research and evidence-based recommendations from Public Health into policy.