EXPLORE YOUR 2.4: INCREASING ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN YEG SCHOOL COMMUNITIESCategory: 2020, Climate, Current, EcoCity Edmonton Grant Program, Grant
Explore your 2.4 is a movement that aims to revive community walkability through youth engagement. Through an immersive, curriculum-aligned experience, youth are guided to first explore, then observe, and finally, engage with community spaces that are within a 2.4km radius of their home and/or school.
Why 2.4 kilometres? Most school jurisdictions specify a radius ranging from 1.6 to 2.4km as the “walk zone.” Yet, in practice, very few people walk here! In fact, over the past 30 years in Canada there has been a significant decline in the number of students who bike or walk to school, with a significant mode shift to automobility. Buling, Mitra & Faulkner (2009) found that between 1986 and 2006, there was an average declining mode shift of 9.5% in walking to and from school among 11-15-year-olds in the Greater Toronto Area.
As education budgets strain, school jurisdictions and families alike will be looking for transportation solutions to expanding walk zones and rising bus fees. Without alternatives, the solution for many will be increased automobility. Explore your 2.4 is positioned to help counter this trend with increased active mobility. It supports travel mode shift by increasing youth comfort and competence to move independently, while improving familiarity, safety and walkability of community spaces.
Concurrently, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a phenomenon of hyper-locality. Province-wide shut-downs turned homes into office settings, virtual spaces into schools and neighbourhoods into hubs of recreation. Even with gradual re-opening, people are staying local and preparing to cycle in and out of closures for many months to come. They are invested in the social and physical dynamics of their communities and there is a high readiness for civic engagement. Explore your 2.4 capitalizes on this readiness and employs a flexible delivery model, with in-person or online tools available.