A new study from Simon Fraser University suggests Vancouver is close to achieving “15-minute city” status where all residents have access to their basic needs within a quarter-hour walk.
The study looked at grocery stories in Vancouver and Burnaby, and mapped out how far residents would have to walk to get groceries. Researchers found 79% of residents in the City of Vancouver lived within a 15-minute walk to a grocery store.
But access to nearby groceries was not equal across the city, with children, seniors, racialized populations, and people with lower employment and education rates having to walk further for their necessities.
“These are often the populations that have lower access to a car and would benefit most from having access to grocery stores by walking and cycling,” lead author Kate Hosford said in a news release.
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When researchers used a young person’s walking speed of 4.8 kilometres per hour, they found 91% of Vancouver’s population had a grocery store within 15 minutes. But that dropped dramatically when researchers used the speed of an older walker — at 3.6 kilometres per hour. In that case, one in five residents didn’t have a grocery store within 15 minutes.
When bikes were added into the mix, the study found 99% of people had access to grocery stores within a 15-minute cycle.
“Designing cities so that people can access their daily needs by foot or bike not only makes for a more inclusive city but is also beneficial from a health and environmental perspective,” Hosford said.
In many cities, grocery stores tend to be located in high-density areas, and Vancouver’s downtown core has the city’s highest concentration. Southwest Vancouver, with a lower population density, has the city’s lowest concentration of grocery stores.
Vancouver is considered one of the most amenity-dense cities in Canada. Hosford expects other cities in Metro Vancouver wouldn’t have as high a score.