Jasper av­enue pi­lot project pro­vides data for the fu­ture

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Front Page - Krista sylvester

No good deed goes un­pun­ished, they say.

It started with good in­ten­tions but a pi­lot project dubbed the “Ex­pe­ri­ence Jasper Av­enue De­sign Demon­stra­tion” that re­sulted in a por­tion of Jasper Av­enue be­ing shut down for two months wasn’t re­ceived well by cit­i­zens, says Ward 6 coun­cil­lor Scott Mc­K­een.

“It was re­ally con­tro­ver­sial, and there were peo­ple all over that were up­set,” the area coun­cil­lor ad­mits, adding that a por­tion of the road was turned into a pub­lic space lined with trees.

“I think the con­tro­versy stems from the pi­lot project it­self and the in­stal­la­tion be­cause a lot of trees died and that’s re­ally not good. I don’t think the ra­tio­nale was ex­plained well enough.”

But the sil­ver lin­ing is the city could gather data on traf­fic con­ges­tion in the area and how to make the down­town av­enue feel more like a “main street” with­out com­pro­mis­ing pedes­trian safety.

“The num­ber one pri­or­ity of the re­design has to be pedes­trian safety, and the other pri­or­ity is ve­hi­cle traf­fic needs to move well dur­ing in the morn­ing and evening rush. We have to bal­ance that out with de­sign­ing a beau­ti­ful main street.”

It’s all part of the push to see more walk­a­ble neigh­bour­hoods in Ed­mon­ton and that is a good thing for groups such as Walk­a­ble Ed­mon­ton, who would love to see more Ed­mon­to­ni­ans leave their cars at home.

“Walk­a­bil­ity al­lows you to get to know your neigh­bours and it be­comes an eco­nomic driver be­cause peo­ple can walk to the store, go out at night, do their laun­dry. It’s also about com­mu­nity safety,” says Walk­a­ble Ed­mon­ton project man­ager Sarah Hoyles.

“Walk­a­ble neigh­bour­hoods be­come the heart of the city. Some crit­ics say Ed­mon­ton isn’t a walk­a­ble city. Point taken, some ar­eas aren’t walk­a­ble, but I think the goal is to see big streets and big com­mu­ni­ties and walk­a­bil­ity is some­thing to strive for.”

Walk­a­ble ed­mon­ton

Plans to re­design down­town streets for walk­a­bil­ity need to bal­ance pedes­trian safety and traf­fic needs.

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