Colby Harder and Karen Laberee have developed WalkRollMap.org, an easy-to-use tool to improve community accessibility
June 7th, 2022
A new and interactive online tool will help Canadians make their communities more accessible.
Colby Harder and Karen Laberee, developers of WalkRollMap.org, tell us more.
How did the idea come about?
Karen: In 2014 BikeMaps.org was developed to gather info on bike crashes, especially incidents missed by the police.
We were then asked to do one for walking, and as we received more input about accessibility issues we realized we needed to address all the ways that people travel - whether that's biking, walking, or using a wheelchair or other mobility device.
How do people use the map?
Colby: It's very easy to use and looks similar to Google Maps. You go to WalkRollMap.org, zoom in on the area where you encountered a barrier or had an incident, and then drop the pin - it works for all Canada.
You can make three different reports - a hazard, a missing amenity like a curb cut, or an incident - such as if you had a near miss with a vehicle or bike, or had a fall.
Karen: We've noticed that many people find a sense of agency through using the tool - it feels good to make a report when you encounter a barrier, and it helps make the community more accessible.
What are the hotspots for inaccessibility? Karen: Our top reports so far involve inaccessible sidewalks, and the next largest about drivers not yielding.
But we want to reach more people, people from different backgrounds, because we all experience things in different ways.
How will the data be used? Karen: We've already started working with municipalities in Victoria. We've had Esquimalt use the data in drafting an active transportation plan, and have also worked with Saanich.
Colby: It's open use, which means that everyone can look at the data and use it to identify priorities and improve accessibility in their area.
Anything to add?
Karen: We're still learning about accessibility and how to perfect the tool. We welcome all feedback to help improve it.
Help make your community more accessible by using WalkRollMap.org
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to email@example.com!