Happy Walktober! 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 communities 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 the region’s sidewalks and pathways. 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). While the map platform is global, the project is focusing promotion initially on the Capital Region. 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. Data collected by WalkRollMap.org will be shared with Walk On, Victoria and the region’s municipalities to help improve the pedestrian environment. Have something to report? Simply go to WalkRollMap.org through your browser on any device.