Greener BeeGreen LivingGreen living in the suburbs: Empty Sidewalks – Delta

Tsawwassen’s 56th Street stretches all the way from the Tsawwassen Town Centre at 12th Avenue north to Highway 17 and south to the U.S. border.

But have you noticed the sidewalks are usually empty? So empty that cyclists often feel they must ride on the sidewalks even though it is against the Motor Vehicle Act which mandates all cyclists to ride on the road.

If the sidewalks are not used or rarely used, it does seem a waste of tax-payer dollars. N’est-ce pas? This is a similar complaint about the public community shuttle bus which is often empty.

So, why are the sidewalks empty?

Have you ever walked the sidewalks of 56th Street? Was it an enjoyable experience? Hm, I would guess not so much. If it was enjoyable to take a walk down our Main Street there would probably be folks walking along 56th Street.

But alas there are very few. After over 30 years of walking to Winskill, to church, to the Town Centre, to the bus stop, I have almost never met a neighbour or a visitor.

I usually walk alone so the narrow sidewalk and noisy traffic are not so noticeable. But when I occasionally coax someone to walk with me instead of driving, I am surprised that the sidewalk is suddenly too narrow and too close to traffic to be comfortable.

To share a few words with companion while walking 56th Street is generally not pleasant because traffic noise and presence of traffic so close. One feels as a pedestrian that you are in unwelcome territory. This space was not designed for walking. This street is not for car-less people.

One 56th Street walk experience which I do recommend is walking alone or with a friend very early on a Sunday morning at time of quiet with no vehicles.

For many residences in Tsawwassen, 56th Street is only direct walking access to the Town Centre and other community destinations. Are the narrow, unattractive sidewalks to blame for the reliance on the car by the vast majority of Tsawwassenites who travel to community destinations?

Unsafe feeling streets are especially a barrier for children, people with kids, strollers, wheelchairs, sight or mobility challenged folks.

Empty sidewalks are the clear signal of a car-dependent community in need of more exercise and fresh air. How can this malady be solved? Can Tsawwassen become a safe walkable community? Are there ideas for change which would increase the joy of walking and human vibrancy on our streets and especially our Main Street, 56th Street?

Any ideas are welcome to advocating for Active Transportation in Delta.

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