Saturday, May 07, 2011

in Jane's shoes

I am so chuffed at the multitude of Jane's Walks to choose from this weekend in Calgary. We've picked a walk through the Mission/Cliff Bungalow area of the city. Mere minutes from downtown, it is, and one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in the city.

It also seems to be one of the most economically diverse neighbourhoods - modest apartment buildings rubbing shoulders with riverside condos, well-preserved heritage homes nestling amongst quaintly-painted wartime houses. There are shops and cafes aplenty and a river park. Many dogs live in the area. I could certainly live there.

It is heartening, though, to see the Jane's Walks extend their reach beyond the obviously walkable and livable inner city communities this year, to be offered in one of the far-flung suburbs and in an established rail corridor community. While it is important to celebrate the livability and sustainability of the older inner city neighbourhoods, it's equally important to walk the less walkable. By walking the neighbourhoods that are dominated by cul-de-sacs and traffic corridors, we can start to determine how to make these places more humane, more livable, less vehicle dependent.

Maybe I should offer to host a Jane's Walk in my neighbourhood next year.

How walkable is your neighbourhood?

12 comments:

Wandering Coyote said...

Pretty walkable around here if you like lots of steep hills.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I do like steep hills, WC. I like going up them, but not so much coming back down.
It's nice to hear that you can walk to wherever you need to go in your town.

27thstreet said...

Great trails along Lake Ontario are the highlight for us.

Lucy DeCoded said...

We live on a parkway, which provides for daily short walks, dog walks, etc. We have a park, a library, some small, ethnic grocery shops and a pharmacy within walking distance, but for most shopping we have to drive to the grocery store. Also within walking distance: a cheap movie theater, a thrift store, a bar, some fast food. And yet we drive almost everywhere, every day. My main gripe with my neighborhood is that while we are connected to the cities' hubs with public transportation, the buses come infrequently and it takes forever to get anywhere.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Trails are wonderful, Mr Anchovy, especially when you are walking dogs.

Your neighbourhood sounds as though it has a lot of great things going for it, Lucy. With better access to public transportation, it could very well become ideal. A cheap movie theatre and ethnic grocery stores? I'm so there.

leazwell said...

You have read Kunstler, yes? Have fun!

Vol-E said...

Chattanooga is walkable in theory. It is walkable for downtown tourists; we have several bridges that span the river, including one exclusively for pedestrians, and it's glorious. But for those who wish to walk 7 days a week, like to work, well fuhgeddaboudit, as they say in a certain Northern city that is much more walkable. No sidewalks, or puny ripped-up ones that turn into mud paths where cement is most acutely needed. And the usual gang of idiot drivers. I don't know which group is more endangered here, pedestrians or cyclists.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I actually thought about The Long Emergency many times during the walk and even when I was picking out which walk to attend, Leazwell.

I can appreciate your frustration, Vol-E. In my neighbourhood there are lovely walking/biking paths through a creek valley, but the streets are all crescents and cul-de-sacs, so purposeful walking is not encouraged.

S.M. Elliott said...

I'm in the downtown core, half a block from the river valley with its seemingly endless trails, close to oodles of local restaurants and cafes. But I mourn the loss of neighborhoods where you could really live. You know, microcommunities with their own hardware stores and a couple ma-and-pa grocery stores and one or two coffeeshops where everybody hangs out.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Restaurants and cafes are all very nice, SME, but you are absolutely right when you say that you need amenities for every day life. I really miss the mom and pop stores that were on almost every corner in our old neighbourhood. And the neighbourhood hardware store was a godsend.

Westcoast Walker said...

Jacobs was a true visionary. It is amazing how you see and experience the world so differently once you get out of your car. Making the "unwalkable" become walkable is a radical step towards reclaiming a community - an important theme for the 21st century perhaps.

Verification word = "Amiken" which we all know is a word to describe an amicable American neighbor

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I know quite a few Amikens on the internet, Westcoast!
Reclaiming the unwalkable is indeed going to be a major focus of the next few decades, in my opinion. I heard some interesting ideas about retrofitting the suburbs during the Jane's Walk we went on this weekend.