Vancouver holds the honorable title of being one of the world’s most walkable cities around the globe, according to the City of Vancouver official website. But despite the city’s unique and admirable quality, many children living in Vancouver are forgoing their pedestrian potential in favor of a less active mode of transportation.
According to a recent article published in the Vancouver Sun, there is an increase in the number of children utilizing the car as their primary form of transportation. Kids who travel by car instead of by foot – or similarly active means such as cycling, skateboarding or rollerblading – are at an increased risk of suffering the negative effects of not getting an adequate amount of daily physical activity.
Jumpin' Math: Preventing Childhood Obesity
Children who primarily use sedentary means of getting from place to place are more likely to suffer from childhood obesity – along with the numerous health ailments that are associated with the medical condition – and are at an increased risk of doing poorly in school. In fact, it is the latter concern that prompted First Lady Michelle Obama to help instigate “Let’s Move Active Schools”, an expansion of her three-year-old “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity.
On February 28, 2013 Mrs. Obama announced the launch of “Let’s Move Active Schools” and explained that the program will focus on schools engaging in imaginative tactics to help children fulfill their daily recommended amount of physical exercise. The program supports the fusion of educational instruction with physical activity – for instance, students reciting their multiplication tables while doing jumping jacks.
The ongoing trend of the automobile as the primary form of transportation for children has an obvious impact on the kids themselves. But it’s not just the physical and mental health of the individuals that is at stake – the entire community is affected.
Fewer Cars Better for Kids and Parents
Modes of transportation utilized by children help shape the entire institution of the city of Vancouver. A higher prevalence of cars means more traffic which may damage the city’s reputation for boasting safe, family-friendly neighborhoods. Heavy traffic may make it dangerous for children to play outside and may deter families from engaging in community social gatherings, such as front yard BBQs, picnics and children’s birthday parties. Increased traffic may also prevent families from feeling free to safely explore the city and enjoy all of the parks, beaches and recreation facilities it has to offer.
Furthermore, a study found in the European Commission’s handbook, “Kids on the Move” found that higher levels of traffic lead to isolated, and therefore, less safe communities.
Amenities to Justify Price
Safety and incidence of crime play a vital role in shaping the Vancouver real estate market and the property value of homes in the Greater Vancouver area.
And because Vancouver’s housing affordability continues to decline, it is essential that the city maintain the favorable characteristics that support its high livability rankings. According to a March 8, 2013 article published in the Huffington Post, both average monthly rent and average cost of detached homes in Vancouver have increased dramatically since 2007, making it the most expensive city in North America with the second-least affordable housing in the world, after Hong Kong.
Whether you're new to the city or a lifelong resident who's forgotten some of Vancouver's great walking and cycling places, here are a few to help you and your family get moving:
- Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver boasts 1,000 acres of gardens, trails, beaches and wildlife. You can take a 2-hour walk around the park via the seawall, visit the geese and swans to Lost Lagoon or play tennis during the day and walk to a nearby restaurant at night.
- Granville Island on Vancouver's West side may tempt you into overeating at its public markets and bakeries, you you can walk off the calories without ever feeling bored by walking along the water, browsing book stores and art exhibits or checking out the waterfront condos (your new home?)
- On the North Shore, you can traverse the West Vancouver Seawall from Ambleside Park to downtown, hike the trails on Seymour, Cypress and Grouse Mountains or check out the Seymour Conservation Reserve.
- Spend summer weekends walking around downtown. A number of normally high-traffic downtown streets are closed to cars in June, July and August. You and your family can explore the city's vibrant offerings at your own pace, knowing that great food and entertainment are never more than a block away.