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Edmonton tops world in return to walking during pandemic, Apple mobility data shows

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Edmonton tops world in return to walking during pandemic, Apple mobility data shows – Apr 28, 2020

Alberta’s capital leads major world cities when it comes to getting out for a walk once again.

“Edmonton was way above anywhere else.”

University of Calgary assistant professor Blake Shaffer used mobility data from Apple to compare changes in walking activity in 89 major world cities, from when pandemic lockdown restrictions hit to current levels.

READ MORE: One quarter of Canadians still not fully social distancing, poll suggests

“What I did was see how much has each city recovered on that walking index… I looked at all 89 cities and of them, Edmonton was the outlier.”

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It’s not that Edmontonians are collectively walking more than those in other cities; it’s that residents have shown the largest recovery in activity levels.

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“This is a bounceback,” says Shaffer, “not excessive walking by any means. But it is a recovery.

“While everywhere around the world saw that big fall-off in mid-March, no other cities have rebounded like Edmonton."

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Shaffer cautions the data comes with caveats, including global weather patterns.

“I took a closer look at how much… temperature changed between mid-March and late April for all of those cities and Edmonton and Calgary have far and away the largest temperature changes.”

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Shaffer tweeted out his findings and noted people interpreted the data in different ways, with some charging social distancing is not being taken seriously enough.

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Edmonton’s mayor, on the other hand, cited Shaffer’s calculations while applauding efforts of city staff to give residents spaces to stay both safe and active.

READ MORE: Edmonton adjusts roads, pedestrian call buttons to promote physical distancing

Calgary scored the second-highest recovery among Canadian cities; ninth among the 89 world cities ranked.