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Letter: Walking brings joy

To the editor: Thunder Bay’s Active and Safe Routes to School Committee has a dream. In his article, "Dare to Dream," April 23, J. R.
To the editor:

Thunder Bay’s Active and Safe Routes to School Committee has a dream.

In his article, "Dare to Dream," April 23, J. R. Shermack compares the American dream, where wealth provides security, to a European dream focused more on sustainable development, quality of life and nurturing communities. Shermack asks if we’re more interested in belonging or belongings and what our dreams are for our fair city.

The Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) Committee has a dream in which the needs of pedestrians, especially children, are placed at the top of the road hierarchy, with cars at the bottom.

Like we once did, we want our children to experience the joy of walking to school. This active way of getting from place to place becomes a habit that carries into adulthood where they walk and bike to work.

We envision healthy, active children who feel safe and connected to their neighbourhoods and their community and who benefit from cleaner air and less traffic.

Humans walk. And when we do, we’re at an ideal speed for shopping, stopping for a coffee, or just sitting and watching the world pass by.

With more people walking, there are more eyes on the street and community safety is enhanced. Children and people of all ages feel more connected and less isolated.

A sense of belonging and a sense of community are being developed, both of which are linked to improved health outcomes, especially mental health.

"If we build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people," said the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia. We believe that for a city to be successful it has to be liveable. To be liveable it must be walkable.

We dream of a pedestrian-friendly community with pedestrian–focused signage and maps, safe and frequent road crossings, reduced traffic speed and volume, lighting, seating and washroom facilities, designated bicycle lanes, sidewalks and trails.

Can our city make a determined effort to give public space back to people on foot?
The City of Thunder Bay’s Active Transportation Plan is a great start, and we’ll be seeing bike routes painted on some streets this spring.

But we need to build on this so that people who walk and bike can be safe anywhere in our beautiful city.

Can Thunder Bay be a healthy community where the healthy choice is the easiest choice for all, where we live, work and play?

The ASRTS Committee believes that this one dream can indeed become a reality.
For more information on ASRTS, visit

Stasia Starr,
Public Health Nurse,
ASRTS chair

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