Walkable communities are healthier and wealthier

September 16th 2015

An ideal community welcomes pedestrians, both visitors and locals. Statistics show that tourists spend 80% of their money in pedestrian-friendly areas, while residents make 45% of daily trips for shopping and errands – tasks they are more likely to do on foot or by bike if they feel safe and comfortable. Walkable communities make sense for everyone, enhancing both individual health and the local economy. 
 
The Nova Scotia Tourism Agency’s First Impressions program has funded the beautification and enhancement of visitor-friendly downtowns and main streets. Lunenburg has plans to enhance visitor experience on the waterfront. Benches and bike racks have been added, plus a series of maps and panels directing visitors to businesses and featuring historic aspects of UNESCO-designated Old Town. 
 
“One of the best things about this project is the collaboration,” says Mike Smith, president of the Lunenburg Board of Trade. “I’ve lost count of how many local and provincial organizations are participating in this. We’re all working together to make it as easy as possible for visitors to Lunenburg to experience the whole town.” 
 
That’s not all. In Wolfville, First Impressions funding helped the town put in bike racks and develop a wayfinding plan. Chester worked on signage and beautification. Antigonish built pedestrian information kiosks. Berwick has new bike racks and benches. 
 
When the places where people gather undergo small enhancements such as sidewalk cafés, attractive signage, outdoor seating, and planters or vegetable stands, these locations become even more welcoming and attractive places to walk, bike, and linger. The end result? More vibrant and attractive communities which encourage residents to move around using active transportation.