Every few months, when Arielle Guetta checks her emails she’s upset by what she sees.
The chair of the Walk On, Victoria steering committee sometimes receives emails from people concerned about the walkability of sidewalks in Greater Victoria.
In one instance, she received an email from a woman about a broken sidewalk in Oak Bay. The woman was concerned about the safety of her mother, who used a walker to get around, and also the safety and ability of other seniors to get around the neighbourhood.
“That was upsetting, especially because Oak Bay is an area where there are a lot of seniors and should be a very walkable area because it has a very compact downtown core,” Guetta said. “We felt bad that we couldn’t address her concern directly.”
In another instance, Guetta received an email about specific crossing areas where pedestrians felt they were unsafe due to lack of visibility.
It’s a feeling of helplessness that spurred Guetta and three members of Walk On Victoria, an organization dedicated to improving the walkability of local neighbourhoods and promoting walking as a sustainable form of transportation, to create a new online guide called the Citizen’s Guide for Reporting Sidewalk Issues and Concerns.
The guide provides a step-by-step process that allows residents to report matters of pedestrian safety, and who to contact from each municipality in the region.
Residents are able to report broken sidewalks, overgrown bushes or trees and other hazards, such as telephone poles on sidewalks, that make it difficult for pedestrians to get around.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to report instances where they feel their neighbourhood is unsafe for pedestrians because we want to avoid any situation where someone is injured or killed or feels discouraged to go out walking,” said Guetta, noting many municipalities have fairly easy ways to report safety concerns.
“We’re hoping that by making it easier for people to report the problem and if more people are reporting issues in one area, it will be addressed more quickly.”
The Citizen’s Guide for Reporting Sidewalk Issues and Concerns can be found at walkonvictoria.org.