Change for Good Roads is a new initiative from Parachute, Canada’s national charity dedicated to injury prevention, that brings together a wide range of sectors committed to improving urban road safety in Canada.
Environment. Inclusion and equity. Accessibility for the elderly and those with disabilities. All these improve when urban roads are designed to be safer through strategies such as improved access to public transit, dedicated bike infrastructure, walkable and more connected neighbourhoods and slower, more controlled traffic.
While advocating for safer roads traditionally has been the purview of injury-prevention champions such as Parachute, so many others, motivated by other goals, want to improve how we move in our urban communities. The Change for Good Roads initiative is the beginning of a national movement to bring together all these parties and strengthen our advocacy.
“Collective action across sectors is the missing link in driving positive change in urban road safety,” says Pamela Fuselli, President and CEO of Parachute. “Safe, healthy and sustainable urban roads are only possible if we treat the underlying issues as a complex problem, one that involves not only urban planning, but also public health, engineering, recreation and many other sectors, and includes a focus on issues such as inclusion, equity, sustainability, and community. It’s at this intersection of interests that sustainable changes in road safety will occur. Road safety is everyone’s business: different populations have different needs and priorities but the safety of our roads affects us all.”
Representatives from 17 organizations – from cycling groups to 880 Cities and CNIB – worked together throughout fall 2021 guided by Impakt, an organization that fosters thought leadership and helps corporations and civil society organizations solve social problems, to apply their proven Change for Good approach to support the development of a clear and cohesive strategy to support a Parachute-led collective of road safety advocates. This initiative will grow and expand to include others from government, academics, NGOs, advocates and the private sector.
This initiative has defined five strategic areas of focus to encourage unified action from across all sectors to create safe, active, healthy and sustainable urban roads across Canada.
- Collaborate and communicate. Establish universal standards for safe roads, promote national and local buy-in, develop a shared language and create a unified vision.
- Change the culture of road use. Lower speeds, build safer cars, support multi-modal transportation and address low perception of safety for cyclists and pedestrians. We can shift the culture around road use by ending victim blaming and promoting accountability; rethink who uses the roads; eliminate preventable deaths; and share success stories.
- Transform data practices. Share data between sectors; use appropriate measures of impact; prioritize equity; collect more detailed data – for example, racial data and contextual details surrounding a road collision.
- Champion equity and accessibility. Redefine accessibility; design roads for everyone; make the healthy choice the easy choice; create equity in the built environment; remove bureaucratic barriers to change.
- Engage communities in co-creation. Prioritize co-creation when it comes to road design and use over consultation; emphasize safety as an effective motivation for embracing change; enable meaningful and ongoing community engagement.