City Cycling Through Sidewalk Safety Inspections

September 11, 2019

Courtenay is on a roll with sidewalk inspections, using two wheels and human power to speed the search for trip hazards and other flaws that could impact the mobility, safety, and comfort of pedestrians.

David Shaw, the City’s Public Works Inspector, is navigating inspection zones in various parts of the city on a bike outfitted with a GPS-enabled tablet connected to the City’s GIS mapping system.

“We began using a bike for our sidewalk inspections this year, realizing it would be much faster than walking, while enabling us to get a closer look at our infrastructure than we might be able to see from a vehicle,” explained Shaw. “Everything is tracked and connected to our online GIS map system, so when I find an issue needing repair, I can map it, photograph it, then send the report directly to our Asset Management team at Public Works for further action.”

Any trip hazard measuring larger than one inch is flagged as a high priority, and is typically repaired within a week.

In addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, riding his bike allows Shaw to cover a lot of ground. One recent day his inspections covered 36 kilometers. In busy areas such as the downtown core, Shaw performs his inspections early in the morning when pedestrian traffic is lighter. “Pedestrians always come first, so I always slow or stop to give others the right of way,” noted Shaw.

Courtenay has made sidewalk inspections and repairs a priority. A sidewalk condition assessment commissioned by the City in 2017 inspected all Courtenay sidewalks, totaling 164 kilometers. The project catalogued any sidewalk defects and prioritized those most in need of repair, as well as noting any other future maintenance and inspection requirements.

What followed were large-scale sidewalk trip hazard repairs throughout the city in both 2017 and 2018, fixing over 300 defects. The number of hazards is now significantly lower, with repairs completed on an ongoing basis by City staff. The work is part of Courtenay’s overall asset management program, reducing risks and extending the lifespan of infrastructure, lowering overall long-term costs.

To report a problem with City of Courtenay sidewalks, roads, or other assets, please contact the Public Works Services Department at 250-338-1525 or email