these boots were made for walking

Despite incessant pleas from the municipal authorities it is still possible to find sidewalks within Whitehorse that have not been cleared. It is up to the resident whose property abuts the sidewalk to make sure it is in walkable condition. This winter ha

Despite incessant pleas from the municipal authorities it is still possible to find sidewalks within Whitehorse that have not been cleared.

It is up to the resident whose property abuts the sidewalk to make sure it is in walkable condition.

This winter has been rather heavy in the snowfall department so those with sidewalks in front of their residences have certainly been getting their exercise as they shovel away.

It can lead to certain tensions within neighbourhoods as not every residence is blessed with a sidewalk.

Some only have a concrete walkway down one side of the street.

The other side has nothing, nowhere for pedestrians to walk.

Perhaps those that have to clear sidewalks of snow look enviously at their neighbours across the street who do not have to.

One wonders if having a residence with a sidewalk raises or lowers the real estate value.

In summer it could be useful, but in winter keeping it walkable is another chore.

In some of the older areas of town residential streets do not have any sidewalks at all.

Areas of downtown and portions of the Marwell Industrial area come to mind.

This lack of facilities on where pedestrians can safely walk show that in the past urban design has been very heavily geared towards vehicles.

While city planners and urban designers are a notoriously conservative bunch when it comes to changing the way streets and sidewalks are laid out, there are some glimmers of hope.

The waterfront portion of Shipyards park has a rather pleasant walking trail stretching all the way around to Spook Creek Station.

The abandoned railway right of way then continues along the riverbanks until the pedestrian is opposite from those paragons of vehicle-oriented consumer culture, Canadian Tire and Wal-Mart.

The walking trail is haphazardly maintained, but enough walkers use it to ensure there is usually a firm path through the snow.

In addition there is the remnants of the Yukon Quest dog trail to walk on.

While the safety of walking on the frozen river will diminish rather rapidly as Spring approaches, it too provides a decent walking path.

The point of all this is to show that walking, much like bicycling, is an extremely valid way to move around the entire downtown core of Whitehorse.

There is more to this than just the anti-car zealots and the keep-fit fanatics.

Downtown Whitehorse is becoming denser, in the sense that as more condominium complexes get built there are a greater number of people living in a given area.

This means less space for all their cars to move around and, more importantly, park.

The age of taking the car and popping out to the shops and back, when those very shops are within walking distance, means walking is going to win out.

The hassle of driving and finding a parking spot will, in comparison to walking, be just too tedious.

These downtown residents will be walking to work, to stores, and to visit friends.

In turn, they will require walkable sidewalks.

Not only will sidewalks have to be shoveled free of snow, there might even be a requirement to have them on both sides of the street.

As more people start walking, there will be a demand for wider sidewalks.

The width of sidewalks on Main Street and portions of Third Avenue by the Elijah Smith Building are actually worthy of the term sidewalks.

Most of the others, once signposts and parking meters and garbage containers have been installed. should perhaps be referred to as catwalks or goat trails because they are about as wide.

No matter what the width is they should be kept free of snow.

Walkers are dependent upon it.

Lewis Rifkind is a Whitehorse-based part-time environmentalist.

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