Stepping Up: Enhancing Urban Mobility, Health, and Inclusion Through Sidewalk Investment in the City of Vancouver

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“Functional, well-maintained sidewalks are a crucial component of our communities. In Vancouver, the needs for sidewalk repair and renewal far outpace funding. We investigated how damaged sidewalks within the city create barriers to mobility and access for residents, with the aim of communicating the day-to-day human impact of poor sidewalk conditions on health, equity, and social inclusion. “

School:

SFU

Department:

Gerentology

Course:

GERO 840

Instructors:

  • Atiya Mahmood

City of Vancouver:

  • Ross McFarland
  • Danica Stradecke
  • Joey Chiu
  • Jeremy Tse
  • Anthony Kupferschmidt

Student Team:

  • Esther Yuwono
  • Margaret Ovenell
  • Niloofar Hedayati
  • Rojan Nasiri
  • Sogol Haji Hosseini

Strategy:

  • Transportation 2040

Term:

Spring 2024

Summary

At current funding levels, it will take roughly 300 years to complete the missing segments of sidewalk in the City of Vancouver and to repair the defects across the existing sidewalk network, according to the City of Vancouver’s Engineering Services’ estimates. Cracks, missing curb ramps, and missing sidewalk segments plague Vancouver’s sidewalks, making sidewalks inaccessible and unsafe to many older adults and persons with disabilities in the city.

Our project reviewed the literature, interviewed older adults and people with disabilities about their experiences navigating Vancouver’s sidewalks, and sought out policy makers’ perspectives on the issue. Together, all the data we collected points to the need for further investment in sidewalk maintenance

Our project underscores the importance of functional sidewalks in fostering vibrant, inclusive communities. The staggering backlog of sidewalk repairs in Vancouver highlights an urgent need for further investment in pedestrian infrastructure. By addressing the barriers to mobility and access posed by damaged sidewalks, we can enhance the health, wellbeing, and social participation of all residents, particularly older adults and persons with disabilities. Ensuring adequate resources for sidewalk maintenance is not just an investment in infrastructure, but rather is an investment in equity, accessibility, and public health, paving the way towards a more inclusive and livable city for all.

Next Steps

The findings of this project were presented to a group of city staff, largely from the City of Vancouvers’ Engineering Services at the end of the term. An executive summary and full-length report, along with the project video, was created to be shared with the City staff partner. The findings of this research will hopefully be used to argue for further investment in sidewalk funding in the next City of Vancouver Capital Plan. As of now, there are no plans for further implementation or work on the project beyond sharing the presentation, video, and reports with the City of Vancouver staff partner.

 

To nominate our project for HUBBUB 22 People’s Choice Awards, between July 4th and July 10th, go to HUBBUB 22 People’ Choice Voting. 
Winners will be announced on July 11th, 2024 during the CityStudio Youth Summer event Civic Matters: Youth Voices and Your City Hall Campus. 

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