A screenshot from WalkRollMap

Saskatoon runners wanted for citizen science project

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an all-season public washroom near the Swale? Or if the multi-use trail extended all the way down Spadina Crescent West to the Gordie Howe Bridge?

There are lots of urban design tweaks that would make Saskatoon a better city for running — and, more generally, for any type of active or accessible transportation. The team at WalkRollMap wants to hear your thoughts and will analyze feedback to identify peak trouble spots and push for change.

Here’s what you need to know about the new project.

What is WalkRollMap?

WalkRollMap is a website where anyone can anonymously drop a point on a digital map to note hazards, report incidents or suggest missing amenities that would make running, walking or rolling environments safer and more accessible.

“We call it citizen science,” says Daniel Fuller, an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s Department of Community Health and Epidemiology who is one of the co-investigators with the project.

The site launched in April with funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada after an earlier project — BikeMaps — proved to be popular among pedestrians as well as cyclists.

Who’s using it?

At present, WalkRollMap is in a pilot period with promotional efforts focussed on four cities: Saskatoon, Edmonton, Victoria and Ottawa.

The site is seeking feedback from anyone who gets around in ways other than by vehicle or bike (like walking, running or using a wheelchair). The more people who use it, the more valuable the data will be.

“We’re really looking for people to contribute your feedback, start using it and start thinking about how they can improve their city,” Fuller says.

What sorts of things can I report?

Anything that makes it harder to get around the city safely and comfortably as a pedestrian, runner or someone using a wheelchair or other mobility device. This could include curb cuts, pedestrian signals that aren’t long enough, poorly repaired paths or trail systems that are interrupted by busy road crossings.

The team is also looking for suggestions on amenities that can be added to improve the urban environment such as public bathrooms, benches or water fountains.

How can using the tool lead to change?

The WalkRollMap team will analyze submissions with the intent of getting findings in front of city councils and relevant stakeholders.

In St. John’s, Newfoundland — one of the pilot cities for BikeMaps — information from the platform helped city council understand where cycling collisions were happening and ultimately informed the city’s cycling master plan.

How can I get started?

Head to WalkRollMap.org to see what issues others have reported and to log reports of your own. The website is intuitive to use, but if you need help you can check out this online tutorial on how to make a report. You do not need to create an account to log a report.