Stettler put their feet to the pavement and pulled their bikes out of storage to put forward a “tremendous” effort during “walk’n’roll” month, said one of the organizers, Grace Fix.
During the month of August, members of the community – residents and businesses – were encouraged to walk or cycle to their destinations. The initiative was spearheaded by the Heartland Beautification Committee, the Stettler Wellness Network and the Stettler Traffic Safety Committee.
During August, roughly 50 businesses registered that they had individuals walk or cycle to work, Fix revealed, and about 40 individuals filed that they walked or cycled to a destination. The numbers are likely higher for both, as Fix expects several people and businesses never went online to enter the information.
“The response from the business community was tremendous,” Fix said, adding that the number participating in the challenge didn’t just meet the goals set by the walk’n’roll group, but well exceeded it. “They jumped right on board.”
Throughout the month, people who registered on the walk’n’roll website were entered into a random draw, with winners receiving a flashing reflector to wear while biking or walking during the dark morning or evening hours.
Signs started popping up around town in July teasing the initiative, and it launched Aug. 1.
“The purpose (of Walk’n’Roll) was to encourage people to walk or bike to their destinations and leave their car at home sometimes,” Fix said.
“We live in such a car culture that we’ve almost forgotten that there are other options.”
Fix said even she always grabs her car keys before leaving the house and has to stop and consider if she can walk to where she’s going.
When a person walks or cycles to their destination, it does several things for themselves, the community and the environment, Fix mentioned. By walking or cycling, people get exercise while being able to enjoy the outdoors, decrease congestion on local roadways, and reduce carbon emissions into the environment.
And Stettler is the perfect walking or cycling community, Fix said.
With everything built in a small area, the frequently accessed features of the community, like the Stettler Recreation Centre, the downtown stores, West Stettler Park and other destinations are easily accessed and not as far as one may think. The area is flat and there is an extensive network of walking and cycling paths and trails throughout the area.
Though the walk’n’roll month is over, the success of the initiative means the three committees are already at work on their next project to encourage people to find alternatives to driving. Signs will be going up in the near future to let people know how far popular destinations actually are, to help drivers realize that it’s not as far, after all, Fix said.
The group is also on the lookout for cyclists biking without helmets, since with a grant and donations, they’ve secured coupons for bicycle helmets, and will hand them out as able.