Jasper avenue pilot project provides data for the future
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.”
Plans to redesign downtown streets for walkability need to balance pedestrian safety and traffic needs.