JMA’s second Jane’s Walk, held Sunday in conjunction with the Pedestrian Charter Steering Committee, was a tremendous success. Close to 30 participants young and old enjoyed the sunshine and warm temperatures, and a lively discussion of what makes for great walks. For Jane Jacobs it’s about a layering of uses and activities, short blocks and many intersections, and lively offerings from businesses and users alike. As William Whyte discovered in his ground-breaking research on successful public places, what attracts people most are other people (and the occasional turtle!).
The route included a trip through Kitchener City Hall itself, a marvelously open and useable building designed by Toronto architects Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg in the early 1990’s . We exchanged stories about the places and streets we visited along the way, and catalogued ideas for improvements. One of the principles of great spaces is that there are at least 10 reasons for being there, and although Hibner Park, City Hall and its Civic Square, and several other spots along the way clearly met this criterion, there is no doubt room for improvement in many of our streets and spaces.
At the end of the walk, leaders John MacDonald and Margaret Santos were asked what keys to success we would recommend to improve our pedestrian realm, our city, and our transit system. We summed it up in two words: quality, and convenience. Make the pedestrian experience, including public transit and cycling, the most convenient option, and it will flourish. Commit to quality in the elements of that public environment by providing layers of great experience, and people will want to be there. And where there are people, there is success.
Leading Sunday’s Jane’s Walk was the newly named Pedestrian Charter Steering Committee mascot- “Martha.” Congratulations goes out to Joel Watamaniuk for entering the winning name. We hope you enjoy walking around the community in your new Converse shoes provided by Nigel’s Athletic Direct located in Market Square, Kitchener. The Pedestrian Charter wishes to thank everyone for participating and encourages everyone to walk as a way of getting around. Hope to see everyone again at next years walk!