An Active City...

Why we need an Active City

Transportation decisions are critical to the health, vitality and viability of our communities and environment. For decades, North American streets – and by extension, our communities – were designed around the car. Often, the principal metric of a ‘good’ street was one that moved cars through it as quickly as possible. Decades of over-emphasis on the car has resulted in isolated communities, dangerous streets, a loss of precious greenspace, congestion, air pollution and severe funding challenges for public transportation. It has also contributed to the climate crisis by privileging car transportation as part of the day-to-day travel decisions of every resident of the city.

Bad transportation choices can constrain a city’s options and lead to long-term problems. The more we design sprawling car-centric communities, the more we make transit unaffordable and walking or cycling unsafe. Because people are more reticent to use active transportation when the options at their disposal are dangerous or inconvenient, congestion levels continue to rise as people stick to their cars. New roads and new lanes are touted as a possible solution to the congestion, but they can worsen the problem they were intended to solve. In a phenomenon known as ‘induced demand,’ new roads are quickly filled up with more cars as other modes of transit continue to be inaccessible. In the end, we’re stuck with more cars and more demand for car infrastructure than when we started.

Read more about induced demand and what it means for Ottawa’s transportation future

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