With my move to St. Catharines a few years ago I became more dependent upon my car. This wasn’t a conscious decision, but it is a pattern that I have fallen into because of convenience, I guess. I’m not happy about this. When I lived in Kingston I didn’t own a car — I walked everywhere and did all my errands on foot. Sure, sometimes when I was lugging home heavy groceries I might have wished for a ride, but overall it was easier to not have a car in that city. The proximity of the campus and the downtown shops and the residential areas makes Kingston a very walkable city, in my opinion.
I haven’t found St. Catharines to be a very walkable city. I know it will be better when I eventually buy a house downtown (a goal that is, for various reasons, a little ways off right now), but a city should have more than one neighbourhood that is conducive to walking. I’m not talking about an after dinner stroll — I mean the ability to be able to do errands on foot, to be able to park the car and not have to rely on it every day. While I it made me smile to read about a local man’s pledge to give up his car, it also made me kind of sad to realize that in this city a lifestyle like this qualifies as “news.” Like Randy Ouellette, I am really happy to hear that St. Catharines has signed the International Charter for Walking and that the city council is exploring ways to make it easier for people in this city to opt for walking or cycling instead of driving so much. There are positive changes starting to take place already — the nice new bike lanes on Lake Street, for instance, are a wonderful addition!
Then there is this scary news, which seems like even more incentive to stay off the roads. Wouldn’t a regional transit for Niagara be wonderful?