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Richmond County has three central locations within its boundaries – Louisdale, Village of St. Peter’s and Isle Madame, (specifically Arichat). These areas are key centres which also have the highest potential for future commercial, retail and residential growth. An integral part of these communities is the main-street. Richmond County Council recognizes the importance of ensuring these community mainstreets are well-maintained and features appropriate streetscaping and sidewalks.
Today, Richmond County Council approved the $2 million Arichat Mainstreet Revitalization project which will commence in 2018 and be completed in 2019.
The proposed project will revitalize a large portion of the Arichat mainstreet. It includes the implementation of a new sidewalk (0.74kms), extensive new streetscaping and business façade improvements. The sidewalk portion of the project will extend along Highway 206 (north side of street) from Bay Lane to Highland Street a busy pedestrian route encompassing numerous commercial/retail outlets, a school, professional offices, and local government offices.
Four partners will be participating in the project, with approval of partner funding anticipated within the coming weeks; funding partners include, Richmond County, Government of Canada, Province of Nova Scotia and local businesses.
The planning and design phase will start in 2018 with actual construction commencing in the spring/summer of 2019.
“This is an important initiative within our County and speaks well of our budget commitment for growth, fiscal responsibility and community development”, said Warden Brian Marchand.
Tendering for engineering services will be conducted over the summer months and concurrently there will be a steering committee created (already setup with the first meeting June 26th and includes municipal staff, business representative and a member for the Isle Madame Tourism and Trade Association) to oversee the facade/streetscaping portion of the program in which businesses will be involved along the mainstreet in Arichat. The Municipality will lead the project with the assistance of a project coordinator who will be responsible for business consultations, hiring a design team, and design approved facade improvements for the commercial/retail outlets.
Deputy Warden, Jame Goyetche said, “This will give many residents, visitors, seniors and school children the opportunity to safely connect with local amenities and interact with necessary services, this is a community development that will enhance and beautify the Arichat main street”.
According to numerous studies and surveys eight in 10 Canadians prefer being in a community that offers sidewalks and good places to walk. Six in 10 prefer a neighborhood that features a mix of houses, shops and services within an easy walk versus a neighborhood that requires a car for every errand.
Some of the critical factors and considerations from these reports and studies are directly associated with rural communities and are universal across Canada.
1. People who live in neighborhoods with sidewalks are 47 percent more likely than residents of areas without sidewalks to be active at least 30 minutes a day.
2. Sidewalks play a vital role in community life. As conduits for pedestrian movement and access, they enhance connectivity and promote walking. As public spaces, sidewalks are the front steps to the community, activating streets socially and economically.
3. Safe, accessible, well-maintained sidewalks are a fundamental community investment that enhances public health and maximizes social capital.
4. Sidewalks increase foot traffic in retail centers, delivering the customers that local shops and restaurants need in order to thrive.
5. Interest in sidewalks is so keen that they’ve become a factor in home prices. For example, in a scenario where two houses are nearly identical, the one with a five-foot wide sidewalk and two street trees not only sells for $4,000 to $34,000 more (depending upon the community) but it also sells in less time.
6. A well-constructed sidewalk for a typical 50-foot-wide residential property can, over time, return 8 times that investment in resale value.
These reports and studies addressed several myths and concerns regarding usage and benefits to the community. Here are five (5) of the myths;
1. “No one will use the sidewalk.” This might have been true in the past, but research published in 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control and Canada Health and in 2013 by the Canadian Center for Safe Routes to School, shows that a growing number of people are walking, and that many are children and adults age 65 and older. People just need safe, convenient and pleasant places near their homes, schools and workplaces to make walking routine, says both studies.
2. “Trees will be destroyed.” Not necessarily. Sidewalks can be curved to avoid trees. In fact, protecting a tree is one of the few reasons for a sidewalk to deviate from a direct route.
3. “A sidewalk will take land from my lawn.” Many homeowners don’t realize how far from the curb their private property line actually extends. There’s often enough of a public right-of-way easement in place to create a sidewalk without infringing in any way on a property owner’s land.
4. “Sidewalks increase crime.” Actually, increased pedestrian activity puts more eyes on the street and creates safety in numbers, which deters and reduces criminal activity.
5. “People will walk too close to my house.” There’s little difference between what passersby can see from a sidewalk versus what they can already see from their cars or by walking along the edge of the street. Any nearness added by a sidewalk would likely be as little as a just a few feet, particularly in rural areas.
6. “Tax dollars are better spent on other needs.” Since sidewalks increase property values and tax revenues, they serve as an economic engine. Sidewalks are also safety investments (by bringing more eyes and ears to the street), offer new opportunities for business and are major contributors to a more balanced active transportation strategy.
Additionally, a growing body of literature is supporting the notion that active transportation supports retail, commercial sales and overall economic development. Shop owners are discovering that nearby sidewalks, bike lanes and trails, when combined with the ability to walk-by, and/or stop & park a bike, are getting more people in the door to shop.
While it’s true that shoppers who walk or ride bikes generally buy less than shoppers who drive, a report by the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking says, “Customers who bike to a store return more often and spend more overall per month,” providing an overall net gain.
In order to promote a more active and healthy lifestyle, and out of concern for the environment, the public is increasingly encouraged to get around on foot or bicycle, or to use public transit. On the other hand, there are more and more vehicles on the road. As pedestrians are vulnerable in the event of an impact with a vehicle, more attention must be paid to them. Sharing the road is therefore essential in ensuring the safety of all road users, including pedestrians in particular.
In a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian, the greater the speed of the vehicle on impact, the higher the probability the pedestrian will be killed. A study by “Ashton” has shown that the probability of a pedestrian being killed varies according to the vehicle's speed on impact. The probability of death increases suddenly in the 30 km/h to 50 km/h range. The likelihood of a pedestrian being killed is 10% when the vehicle travels at 30 km/h and jumps to 75% at 50 km/h. At an impact speed of 70 km/h and over, the probability of death is nearly 100%. (Source: ASTHON, S.J. Pedestrian Injuries: The Influence of Vehicle Design, 1981, 1998, 2006, 2011).
In 2015, 95% of accidents causing bodily injury involving at least one pedestrian victim occurred in zones where the speed limit is 50 km/h or less, compared to 56% for all accidents causing bodily injury. Accidents causing bodily injury involving at least one pedestrian victim are more frequent in zones of 50 km/h or less. As well, accidents involving pedestrians are more frequent on main roads and residential streets.
It should be noted; the speed limit on the Louisdale, St. Peter’s and Arichat mainstreets’ is 50km/h (30/km/h in school zones).
An analysis of the environments in which accidents occurred for 2015 shows that accidents causing bodily injury involving at least one pedestrian victim were more frequent in business and commercial (53%) and residential (38%) environments. Only 3% of accidents involving at least one pedestrian victim occurred in a rural environment, whereas such was the case for 29% of all accidents causing bodily injury. However, the severity of the accidents involving at least one pedestrian was more serious in rural environments. In rural environments, the percentage of fatal accidents involving at least one pedestrian victim was 12%, whereas it was less than 4% in the other types of environment.
Health Benefits In a country and province with high obesity rates and related diseases among adults and children, active transportation can introduce exercise into a person’s everyday routines.
The introduction of light exercise, such as biking or walking, has been shown to improve overall health and quality of life for residents. In fact, one study found that, “There is evidence that health benefits can be observed for levels of activity at lower durations and intensity than the minimum public health goal—i.e., adding a number of five minute walks to the bus, the store, or to the neighbors can add to your health.” Thus, very small changes in daily routine can affect health outcomes. The health benefits are valuable not only for individuals, but also for communities. The cost of additional health care due to obesity-related illnesses adds up.
Children need safe roads to reach school and activities. Children who live in rural areas are at greater risk for obesity and related disease than children from other areas: children in rural areas are more likely to be overweight or obese than those in urban areas. Providing safe opportunities for walking and biking to and from school is a key strategy to keep kids active and healthy. Roads, complete with sidewalks, that are accommodating of children and other vulnerable users will be safer for everyone.
Benefits of Active Transportation Research have identified many concrete benefits of active transportation, including improved public health and community unity.
Accident statistics and aging population:
Given that aging generally leads to a loss of physical and cognitive capacities, the elderly are more vulnerable pedestrians. A study conducted in 2001 established a connection between the severity of injuries sustained by pedestrian victims of collisions and the speed of the vehicle involved. The findings revealed that pedestrians aged 60 and older sustained more serious injuries than victims in other age brackets at lower impact speeds.
Another study, from 2007, provided a detailed description of the capacities and processes that deteriorate with age and become a factor in road safety. These include:
• many types of visual functions;
• hearing loss;
• physical movement;
• reduced walking speed;
• loss of balance;
• the ability to react to slipping and tripping.
A 2010 study grouped the cognitive problems linked to collisions involving elderly pedestrians into five principal factors:
1. misjudging gaps: improperly evaluating the distance of oncoming vehicles as well as the distance between them;
2. distraction: absent-mindedly following other pedestrians (who are likely to be more alert) and crossing the street after the traffic light has changed or assuming oncoming traffic has past;
3. visual attention: paying more attention to a traffic signal or light than traffic;
4. expectations: assuming a driver will yield the right of way;
5. impatience: crossing the street after a long wait or crossing between parked cars before reaching the intersection.
Pedestrians aged 65 and older represent 50% of all injured pedestrians. Compared to other pedestrians, the injuries they sustain are more serious and their hospital stays are longer. Among all pedestrians, the elderly are more vulnerable, as the scientific literature has confirmed time and again.
Another issue is that aging gradually reduces certain capacities required to make decisions about crossing the road:
• vision (lower sensitivity to contrast, reduced visual field, fading colour perception),
• hearing (inability to differentiate between ambient noise and traffic),
• memory (especially spatial memory, by which individuals can encode and use elements in the environment to acknowledge their location),
• responsiveness (stimulus reaction time)
• general motor skills (e.g. osteoarthritis, rheumatism).
This puts the elderly at greater risk than other population subgroups. Generally speaking, the findings of the several studies confirm that the vulnerability factors of elderly pedestrians are both multiple and varied.
Children and Traffic
Children are vulnerable pedestrians because their physical and cognitive capacities are still developing. The physical, cognitive, visual and auditory development of children puts them at a disadvantage, particularly as pedestrians.
Young pedestrians are at a higher risk of accident because crossing the street requires complex processes and behaviours that children have not yet developed, including: • planning their route;
• detecting vehicles;
• evaluating the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles;
• deciding when the time is right to cross the street.
These processes require advanced motor skills, as well as the capacity for continuous analysis and feedback regarding decision making. The risk of injury among children is exacerbated by their small size and lower eye level compared to adults. This forces them to have to look up to see over the tops of vehicles. Furthermore, their field of vision is often obstructed by objects that limit their perception and their ability to face traffic. Their small size also makes them difficult for drivers to see, and they become totally invisible when they are near a vehicle that is taller than they are.