In 2014, Anna Ho and Conrad Nobert along with a handful of friends in their south central neighbourhood started a grassroots group called Edmonton Bike Coalition.
The collection of people was a loosely formed social-media-driven group who lobbied the city for more major investment in bike lanes.
This group got a lot of media attention and pulled off a remarkably successful mosaic campaign. An image made up of more than 1000 photos of people with their bicycles was unveiled at city hall.
Across the North Saskatchewan River
In Spring 2014, there was growing debate and disappointment with the lack of cycling infrastructure in west central Edmonton.
During a monthly Oliver Community League meeting, the idea of establishing a working group to push for a bike lane from downtown through Oliver continuing west was tabled. The president of the league, Jarrett Campbell added that it was important to find support and volunteers from Glenora, North Glenora and Downtown.
Michael Phair volunteered to organize an initial meeting which took place in late Spring 2014.
Launch of West Downtown Complete Street Group
Volunteers from Oliver with some assistance from the other community leagues formed a working group known as the West Downtown Complete Street Group.
Over the next couple of months this working group met with Councillor McKeen as a representative of the area, the mayor and other councillors for advice and to garner support. They also mobilized community members with the help of David Shepherd and Robin Mazumder to create a pop-up bike route along 108 Street on September 20, 2014.
Finding the Path Forward
In 2015, Conrad and Anna decided to formalize their group and become a registered non-profit with a board of directors. This would make the group eligible for grants. Many of the West Downtown Complete Street Group members decided to join up with this formalized group which resulted in the wrapping of the Oliver-based team.
Together, they decided to change the name to signify the focus on the multi-modal, including but not limited to bikes. Paths for People would cover all forms of active transportation.
In 2016, Paths for People received its first grants and held its first big event, A City for Life, featuring world-renowned active transportation guru Gil Penalosa.
The success of this event attracted a new wave of members and lead to an intense lobbying effort to get a Downtown Bike Network built in Edmonton. Working with Stantec and the City of Edmonton, Paths for People played a key role in making the network a reality in 2017.
With more success winning grants, Paths for People decided to shift from a working board to a governance board and hire its first paid staff.
In 2017, P4P hired an administrator and its first Executive Director–Co-Executive Directors, in fact. Conrad and Anna stepped off the board and took over those roles.
To the Future
Since then, the organization has continued to grow. A testament to its vitality and necessity, when Conrad and Anna decided to move on from the organization in 2018, Paths for People has continued to flourish and champion active transportation for all Edmontonians.