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Expert offers insight into active transportation in Bridgewater

by Keith Corcoran


Gil Penalosa speaks in Bridgewater about active transportation.
 BRIDGEWATER - Define communities around active transportation and make walking and bicycling something safe and accessible to all, an expert on the subject urged a local audience.

 Gil Penalosa, executive director of the non-profit Mississauga, Ontario-based group Walk and Bike for Life, gave a talk about the benefits of walking and bicycling links, and the need for communities to finish residential streets to benefit all users by taking into account the needs of pedestrians.

 Mr. Penalosa spoke for an hour during a September 24 event called Making the Case for Active Transportation held at the Nova Scotia Community College - Lunenburg Campus.

 There were about 45 people in attendance.

 He told the crowd cities have long been defined around motorized vehicle use but more communities are starting to understand the benefits of creating bicycle lanes, landscaped buffers and parks and focusing on physical activity and its health benefits.

 "Moving from talking to doing" is key, he said.

 "It is very clear it is not about money. It's about priority."

 The community needs to participate in change and politicians have to have the will to do it, he added.

 "Without champions, nothing happens."

 Mr. Penalosa is a former Colombian parks commissioner. While in that position in Bogota, Colombia, 200 parks were designed and built under his leadership and 91 kilometres of streets in the city of seven million were made car-free for one day a week.

 Bridgewater's already taken some steps with the creation of a 39-page document that outlines ideas for human-powered methods of getting around town. The price tag attached to the 10-year blueprint is $7.4 million.

 Active transportation infrastructure improvements to North Street and Aberdeen Road, two highly used town roads, will tie into a major upgrading project taking place next year. Changes such as shared or dedicated bike lanes, new and wider sidewalks, landscaping and signage are part of the plan.

 To learn more about Bridgewater's active transportation committee and plans, log on to http://www.bridgewater.ca/planning/active-transportation.html on the internet. Melinda Norris of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia also spoke about her organization's walkabout project. More about that program can be found at www.walkaboutns.ca on the internet.



posted on 10/07/08
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