Updated: Nov 15, 2021
Going for a walk might be one of the easiest activities that you can do, yet it may not always feel safe and comfortable. Sidewalks might be crumbling, narrow, or nonexistent. The safe way across a busy street might result in a frustrating 500m detour. Or perhaps you’ve experienced a scary near miss with a vehicle or have recently tripped and fallen. These experiences all factor into our decision to walk and may become barriers to accessing our city as we’d like.
A new crowdsourced website is hoping to change that. WalkRollMap.org has recently been developed by researchers at the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, and Memorial University with funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Crowdsourcing offers a way to fill in the data gaps left by traditional sources such as police reports or ICBC claims. Building upon their experience with BikeMaps.org, the team has created WalkRollMap.org to gather reports of barriers to safe, comfortable walking or rolling on city sidewalks and pathways. While the map platform is global, we are beginning by focusing our promotion efforts locally. Data collected by WalkRollMap.org will be available for advocacy organizations and the region’s municipalities to help improve the pedestrian environment.
Website users can map three different types of reports: 1) Hazards or Concerns; 2) Missing Amenity; or 3) an Incident (collision, fall, or near miss). After a participant drops a location pin on the map, they are asked a series of questions about their report. Participation is anonymous, but demographic details such as year of birth, gender, and ethnicity are collected to better understand who the project has reached. People may experience the safety and comfort of their environment differently based on gender, race, or age. As well, different barriers may exist for people with a disability and this information is also collected.