Creating neighbourhood places for older adults to be socially and physically active is a global health priority. Safety is integral to older adult mobility. In greenway research, perceived safety is often only partially or superficially explored. Our study comprehensively examines older adults’ experiences and perceived safety for walking on a new urban greenway in Vancouver, Canada—the Arbutus Greenway.



We integrated mixed methods: i) observational count data to describe the use and context of the greenway over 3 years (2017; 2018; 2019), and; ii) semi-structured interviews with older adults at two time points (2017, n = 27; 2019, n = 16).


Results and discussion

We conducted thematic analysis to illuminate older adults’ experiences across three safety domains: personal safety, traffic safety, and security. Built environment features such as benches, paving, road markings, and natural foliage buffers intersected with elements of the social environment to influence older adults’ perceived safety. While the greenway supported active transportation, leisure, and social engagement for many older adults, certain factors also provoked fears, especially for older adults with mobility limitations. We advocate for a multidimensional lens to better understand how urban interventions influence perceived safety, and identify practical solutions to encourage mobility for all ages and abilities.




Ottoni CA, Sims-Gould J, Winters M. Safety perceptions of older adults on an urban greenway: Interplay of the social and built environment. Health & Place. 2021;70:102605. doi:10.1016/J.HEALTHPLACE.2021.102605