Hamilton interactive map for pedestrian problems

In the most recent issue of Spacing, I wrote about how small problems with the walking environment can make a big difference in discouraging people from walking. I talked about a few ways that people can try to get local walking problems fixed – call 311, call the local councillor’s office, call The Star‘s “The Fixer” column.

Hamilton has created an example of another way to enable people to note local problems for pedestrians: an interactive map. People can log in, identify a particular location, and use symbols and text to identify the problem there. It not only alerts the city to a local problem, but also provides an overall picture of the kinds of problems the city faces in improving its walkability. It’s a great idea, and it would be useful to do the same thing for Toronto.

6 comments

  1. brilliant. what a fantastic way to enable and enhance community input – locals help spot the problem and get it fixed through helpful dialogue and info sharing. it’s not a ‘complaint driven process, it cultivates a more expansive mindset of connecting, caring, stewardship and community engagement. in this way, it’s not just a ‘pothole’ getting fixed but an active citizen being nurtured. People take an active role in ‘fixing’ their community, instead of merely tolerating or being frustrated by sub-standard walking conditions (in this case) or shoddy services. It would be fantastic to have this kind of service everywhere. thanks for the posting Dylan.

  2. Would be great for TO. But, lordy, it’d be a crowded map!

  3. There are a couple precedent sites for this sort of thing. In fact, one already exists that has a Toronto page:

    http://www.seeclickfix.com/can_toronto

    All it would take to reach critical mass is for someone to say “hey everyone, from now on city officials will be paying attention to this site. Please use it to report everything and enjoy the tax savings of not having to build our own reporting system from scratch.”

    If Spacing, BlogTO, Torontoist all made a hard push to get their users to use this site it could quickly become a highly-functional way to get stuff fixed.

    (Note – In the UK they have something similar, http://www.fixmystreet.com/)

  4. It’s a good idea because it makes it easier for communities and cities to identify problem areas. You call problems in to 311, but if the city is slow to respond as it very often is, on the street it just looks like no one cares, not even locals. That only encourages apathy and indifference.

    On St. Clair there’s an underpass between Keele and Old Weston Road where some vehicle knocked over the railing . It’s been laying on the sidewalk blocking the way for three weeks and the city knows about it, putting up pylons, and isn’t repairing it . That’s the sort of inaction that frustrates people to the point where they don’t even bother caring to call the city anymore. Even something as important as a main street sidewalk can just be closed for an completely arbitrary amount of time. That’s why there’s a Toronto Star column called “The Fixer”, but really, why should there be? It shows the city isn’t working well anymore. Forget the 1970s.

  5. I agree with A.R. in that sometimes it can take a while for things to get fixed, but in general my experience with calling 311 has been pretty good. Dylan, a question – I noticed today as the garbage trucks were out in my area that *every single bin* was place exactly in the middle of the sidewalks on both sides of the street, thereby making them awkward to use for pedestrians, and impassable by people with strollers or on scooters. Surely the City is in contravention of some bylaw or another of its own? Can you bring this up at the Toronto Pedestrian Committee?

  6. Hi Nick – good point. I noticed this on my street today too, and took a photo for a future post.

    Re. the pedestrian committee – as you may have seen in my post today, the City is proposing to abolish it. If you could write to Mayor Ford pointing out that this is the kind of issue affecting pedestrians that the committee could bring to the City’s attention, that would be very helpful!

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