Today, June 3, 2021, is World Bike Day.

I’d like to share with you some of the work that my neighbours and I did to make system-wide change in the lives of Edmonton kids to ride, wheel and walk to school. I’d also like to share with you my thoughts on the work that still needs to be done and how we can get there, together.

If you go down 106 Street or 76 Avenue through the neighbourhoods of Queen Alexandra, Allendale, McKernan, Belgravia and Strathcona you’ll see protected bike lanes and raised crosswalks. These did not appear here by magic. They are the result of vision, hard work and persistent positive advocacy by community members.

Rather than rebuilding our roads “like for like” as was the normal neighbourhood renewal process, we advocated for a renewal process that set our community up for its present-day and future needs. We rallied diverse voices around a vision for WALK BIKE LIVE and set out to pilot a new way of doing engagement.

This engagement married community expertise with city staff technical expertise to make the choices needed to achieve our vision. It worked. In fact, it worked so well that the model that we piloted is now the standard process for neighbourhood renewal in Edmonton. As the chair/co-chair of this initiative, I am humbled to have received the City of Edmonton Community Traffic Safety Award for this work, as well as the Jack Grainge Award from Bike Edmonton

I believe we need leaders who are doers. People who can see opportunities and make changes happen. People who know that the best way to get through a difficult and adversarial community issue is to stay positive, build bridges, and collaborate towards a common goal. That’s what we did on 106 Street and 76 Avenue. That’s also what we did to make bike rack upgrades to Our Lady Mount Carmel School while I was on School Council and the Parent Fundraising Society there. It’s what I want to continue to as your Public School Board Trustee for Ward F.

Here’s what I have in mind:

  • Secure bike parking at all Edmonton Public Schools – We need to ensure that students and staff aren’t deterred from riding their bikes to school because they fear getting their bikes stolen.
    • Concrete is expensive – Current EPSB policy is to have all new bike racks installed into concrete. This is expensive and largely falls on the shoulders of parent fundraising societies. Let’s think differently about that. Why not bolt new racks into existing asphalt on the parking lot? 
    • Bike cages are expensive – Why not set up a cost-share between the District, school, and parent fundraising societies?
    • In fact, I presented on this issue of expense for schools to put new bike racks into concrete at a recent EPSB Trustee meeting.
  • Safe streets – Families and children shouldn’t be discouraged from walking and biking to school because the streets to get there or the school zones are too congested or unsafe
    • We need to leverage the Street Labs program the City of Edmonton is running, in partnership with community league volunteers. In fact, this is what we advocated for as part of the #YEGCoreZone proposal. We have to combine slower residential streets with adaptable visual cues to drivers so everyone can stay safe on our streets. 

What other ideas do you have? Get in touch with me . I’d love to hear from you.

Let’s work together for education grounded in community.

Julie

Read More:

Edmonton Journal Op Ed

Transforming Edmonton

Well Endowed Podcast, Edmonton Community Foundation

Speaking Municipally Podcast (co-host edition) 

Walkcast with Tim Q.