Urban Waterfront Promenades and Physical Activity by Older Adults: The Case of Vancouver

Macdonald, Elizabeth

Macdonald, E. (2007). URBAN WATERFRONT PROMENADES AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY BY OLDER ADULTS: THE CASE OF VANCOUVER. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research,24(3), 181-198.


This paper reports on a research study that examined if and how older adults use urban waterfront promenades for physical activity. The research involved case studies of three waterfront promenades in Vancouver, British Columbia. Research methods included field observations and surveys. The findings conclude that older adults use Vancouver's waterfront promenades in significant numbers, overwhelmingly for walking; that more of them walk with others rather than alone; that nearness to home may be a determining factor as to which promenade they use; and that the most important environmental characteristics of promenades may be well-separated walking and biking paths, trees, shade when it's hot, and sun when it's cool.

Main finding
The research finds that many older adults, more men than women, do use Vancouver's waterfront promenade for walking and living within walking distance of the promenade was a significant predictor of use. The findings suggest that older adults are most concerned about amenities along the promenade, such as separation of walking and biking paths and trees/shade. The study also concluded that the social character of the waterfront promenade was a draw for older adults who perceived walking as a social activity and as exercise.

Description of method used in the article
This research was conducted on three waterfront promenades in Vancouver, British Columbia. It included three sets of tasks - gathering and analysis of existing data, field observations and surveying - conducted in overlapping phases.

Of practical use

Organising categories