Transportation, Community Design, and Healthy Aging

Research team: Andrea Procyk, Dr. Lawrence Frank

Funding: United Way of the Lower Mainland

This report supports United Way of the Lower Mainland’s work to help seniors age well. Older adults are a rapidly growing proportion of the population in Canada. Many older adults prefer to travel by car and to live in the car-dependent suburban neighbourhoods. Yet, there is growing evidence that these choices are linked to decreased levels of physical activity and increased overweight and obesity. Car dependent neighbourhoods also contribute to social isolation, which can adversely affect mental and physical health.

In the Lower Mainland, high concentrations of older adults live in walkable neighbourhoods in Vancouver, North Vancouver, New Westminster, and White Rock. But, 25,000 older adults in the region live in neighbourhoods with low walkability and poor transit service. Future research in Metro Vancouver should do more to evaluate the connections between travel patterns, urban form, and health for older adults.

The report suggests policy interventions to support healthy aging in the Lower Mainland, including:

  • Increase residential density, land use mix, and street connectivity
  • Invest in public transit and encourage Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
  • Modify pedestrian design guidelines to better serve the needs of older adults


The report is available here

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