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Vancouver and the Walker: The Evolution of the Walkable City


ISBN: 978-1-78714-628-0, eISBN: 978-1-78714-627-3

Publication date: 16 June 2017


As a relatively new city by North American standards, Vancouver experienced tremendous growth in the early 20th century. Constrained by its location on a peninsula and surrounded by water, early planning and engineering decisions supportive of citizen accessibility also encouraged and reinforced walkability through strong streetcar networks, walkable neighbourhood commercial areas and the availability of single family housing. Citizen engagement in emerging walkability projects was predicated by the successful stopping of a freeway through the heart of Vancouver. As Vancouver’s planning and engineering policy developed, citizens synergistically worked with the City on several emerging projects that reinforced connection and walkability across the city. Often incepted as demonstration projects, many of these initiatives have been adopted as city policy and have applicability in other jurisdictions.The walkability neighbourhood demonstration projects described can be replicated in other municipalities to create positive impacts on walkability and city life. The effectiveness of these approaches in walkability are echoed in the innovative Olympic Village neighbourhood which housed the athletes at the 2010 Olympic winter games. Many of the concepts and best practices developed in walkable community projects have been melded in creating a successful walking environment garnering world attention. By enhancing walkability in neighbourhood projects, communities strengthened their area’s sustainability and social networks. The synergistic work between the municipality and the community is vital to the success and effectiveness of demonstration projects that can be adopted later as citywide policy.



James, S. (2017), "Vancouver and the Walker: The Evolution of the Walkable City", Walking (Transport and Sustainability, Vol. 9), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 289-315.



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