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Car-Free Streets

This is absurd. We're not pedestrianizing the Henday. This is a what, one/two lane road in the middle of at least two others (one of which is literally Jasper Ave)? Like once you get past 105th you're driving through gravel parking lots and a few small buildings until you get to Norquest.

I'm here for the argument that it's not the best candidate for pedestrianizing. 104th, RHW, and 108th may be better. But let's not pretend if it was closed it was some major thoroughfare for cars that would snarl traffic if it went away. This is not the hill to die on imo
Yeah that is real the problem. If you are downtown or in the older areas of the city, you can get by without a car without to much difficulty, but if you are elsewhere or have to leave that area that is when it becomes problematic. Making changes to this street, will not help with that. Focus people.
 
In my opinion it's less about which street/avenue/block we are talking about and more about the concept generally. I moved to Canada from Europe 30 years ago and in all that time I have not once seen any stretch of city ground go from being car focused to being for pedestrians only. Not one square inch. The reason why you are seeing some Edmontonians fight so valiantly for a pedestrianized 102 Ave is not because it's the most logical place to pedestrianize, it's because we just want to see something happen somewhere. Anywhere. This would have been a super easy one to close without any actual consequences for drivers. But nope, it's back to vehicles for no clear reason other than that's the default setting in this city. Do pedestrians have to justify themselves? of course. Do drivers have to explain why we should keep this stretch open even though there's only five cars per hour that use it? of course not! don't be silly.

I am heartened to hear that UDI and Paths for People are going to continue discussions around what other possible locations could be focused on for pedestrianization. But I've heard this talk before. There are just too many people like IanO who say the right things about wanting to create spaces for non-motorized transportation but then when push comes to shove it's always a case of 'not yet', 'not enough traffic' (because that matters when it comes to pedestrians but not cars), 'we are not Europe', etc. Meanwhile another 30 years are likely to go by without change. Maybe we'll get a wider sidewalk in a couple of places...yipee. Oh well, I can always go visit my kids in other cities once they move away from Carmonton.
 
102 Avenue is a crappy place to hang as a pedestrian or cyclist currently and that won't change much as pedestrianized. Better spots to close to cars would be 83 Avenue in front of the Old Strath Farmers Market, 104 St. from 104 Ave to Jasper and Rice Howard Way. Obviously buildings with existing vehicular entrances would need to be retrofitted or demoed, but those spots are much more pleasant to spend time in currently than 102 Avenue now (and likely in the future as well).
 
There are just too many people like IanO who say the right things about wanting to create spaces for non-motorized transportation but then when push comes to shove it's always a case of 'not yet', 'not enough traffic' (because that matters when it comes to pedestrians but not cars), 'we are not Europe', etc. Meanwhile another 30 years are likely to go by without change

I mean hot take but "we're not Europe" is just an excuse not to have nice things, or at least things that are normal for almost everywhere else.

See: Pedestrianizing streets? That would never work here, this isn't Europe. Low floor LRT? People here aren't used to trams like they are in Europe. Bike Lanes? This isn't Amsterdam. Narrower roads and smaller cars? I need a 3500, that 1/4 ton isn't enough, I don't live in Europe. Passenger rail? Drive to Calgary, this isn't Europe.
 
The reason why you are seeing some Edmontonians fight so valiantly for a pedestrianized 102 Ave is not because it's the most logical place to pedestrianize, it's because we just want to see something happen somewhere. Anywhere.
I think this is the problem though. A “C-“ experience of pedestrianization won’t win over the neutral middle or detractors. It’ll actually do more harm than good. It’s like when the city painted stupid bike lanes all over the place with no thought. They spent tens of thousands doing it on 95th ave on the west end (which they later removed for tens of thousands more) and now that they’re looking to build actual bike lanes (for what the bike plan calls a District Connecter on this stretch) they’re using a crappy MUP with 0 intersection protection because the backlash from residents last summer when bike lanes were even mentioned during engagement was so fierce. There’s literally still signs in people’s front yards along 95th ave fighting the redesign. Why? The city pissed everyone off making bad painted bike lanes that no bikers used cause they weren’t safe or comfortable. And now it’s broken trust and has led to a crappy design of a District Connecter that should be getting what 132nd ave has (separated bike paths, raised crossing, dutch traffic circle).

A poorly done pedestrianization can do more harm than good when we go to pedestrianize the next street. If we do RHW or 104st or parts of Whyte well, on the weekends in Summer to start, it’ll help to win people over to the bigger picture. But if you just jam through ideology with poor execution, you might win the battle, but I think it’ll lose the war. Just my opinion on it as someone who seriously also wants some pedestrianized spaces. We must be patient and prioritize the right projects. So many other sidewalks to fix first tbh.
 
Pedestrian areas need to develop organically. Whyte, 118 Avenue and 124 Street developed slowly. I think 102 Avenue could start small with Churchill Station and ongoing activities at Churchill Square and the Arts District. 103 and 104 Street could be next with the Boardwalk and Ice District.
 
I think this is the problem though. A “C-“ experience of pedestrianization won’t win over the neutral middle or detractors. It’ll actually do more harm than good. It’s like when the city painted stupid bike lanes all over the place with no thought. They spent tens of thousands doing it on 95th ave on the west end (which they later removed for tens of thousands more) and now that they’re looking to build actual bike lanes (for what the bike plan calls a District Connecter on this stretch) they’re using a crappy MUP with 0 intersection protection because the backlash from residents last summer when bike lanes were even mentioned during engagement was so fierce. There’s literally still signs in people’s front yards along 95th ave fighting the redesign. Why? The city pissed everyone off making bad painted bike lanes that no bikers used cause they weren’t safe or comfortable. And now it’s broken trust and has led to a crappy design of a District Connecter that should be getting what 132nd ave has (separated bike paths, raised crossing, dutch traffic circle).

A poorly done pedestrianization can do more harm than good when we go to pedestrianize the next street. If we do RHW or 104st or parts of Whyte well, on the weekends in Summer to start, it’ll help to win people over to the bigger picture. But if you just jam through ideology with poor execution, you might win the battle, but I think it’ll lose the war. Just my opinion on it as someone who seriously also wants some pedestrianized spaces. We must be patient and prioritize the right projects. So many other sidewalks to fix first tbh.

I do believe creating a poor experience or poor execution of something is going to be detrimental to the success of an initiative and its purpose. So we want to get things right. But I'm not fully on board with the thought that had the 95 Ave bike lanes been done right or had been separated, that it would have made many of these same people in fierce opposition to more bike lanes feel any different than they do now.

There is a large and vocal opposition to spending money on bike lanes in this city or any thought of reducing the number of vehicle lanes anywhere or reducing vehicle parking anywhere. Perhaps people don't recognize the costs to a city's bottom line associated with this mindset or they don't care. Perhaps they don't believe these actions have any impact on the planet or their own health. Perhaps they don't think it has any impact on quality of space or they don't care. don't know.

People are still very frustrated with the 100 Ave bike lane downtown and how it slows their commute. Just one example - someone i know living near WEM still complains about 100 Ave when coming dt.

But if we're going to build a city for people, it can't be done with the car always as the top priority - which is why a lot of our city plans and initiatives have poor results. There is a fear of disrupting the very large and vocal majority who drive. And cities that have made big changes - Paris, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Bagota, Montreal etc just made big, bold moves that ticked off a lot drivers by limiting parking, reducing driving lanes, expanding sidewalks etc. - they did not wait for these things to just happen organically. Certainly, the car centric model we have now did not just happen organically- it was largely driven and impacted by oil and gas, car manufacturers and money and people in influential positions with conflicts of interest in designing and putting measures in place to restrict other alternatives. And from there cities could sprawl making people even more car dependant with no alternatives because there was no money being spent on any other transportation options of quality.

With all that, I'm not saying 102 Ave needs to be pedestrianized but I am arguing the car is still too much of a priority in our city building and it impacts the success of our planning and design.
 
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I've always thought that keeping the Fringe Grounds in place (car-free with space for street performers, beer gardens and such) from May Long through Labour Day represents our best opportunity for pedestrianization.

That and Friday night through Sunday afternoon on 104 Street downtown.
 
I would make the entire stretch of 102 Ave between railtown park all the way to 124st a car free avenue. I can see people strolling, biking, scooting, rollerblading, food trucks here and there, kids playing street hockey or what have you. Zero need for cars. We don't need car free avenues only where there is retail and restaurants. Plenty of residential avenues and streets should qualify as well. It creates another artery for car free life.
 
Really the key for 102 Ave coming to life is going to be once this LRT is running, regardless of the timing of pedestrianization it's going to feel pretty dead until then.
But once the LRT is running and people are coming and going all day, I have no doubt it's going to invite businesses to want to front directly onto the Avenue, further supporting activity and the "justification" for pedestrianization.

For those that are harder to convince to the virtues of pedestrianizing this corridor, I think even they'll be convinced in a few years.
 
Excellent, excellent short video by the always reliably good About Here. This is from 3 years ago but the takeaway - we're much more capable of changing our commuter habits than we may think or give ourselves credit for - is always timely.

It's about Olympic cities where there is always the fear of major traffic congestion during Olympics, which mostly doesn't happen.
In Vancouver for instance, a whopping 20% of roadways were closed off to cars during 2010 games at the same time 177,000 more people were in the city. And traffic flow actually improved because transit use, biking and walking increased significantly. People adapted. Commuters changed their travel behaviour on mass.

 
Its fairly easy to adapt for a two week event even if it is huge and very disruptive. For instance you can plan to take a vacation and go out of town. Sorry, but this is not a good comparison.
 
Its fairly easy to adapt for a two week event even if it is huge and very disruptive. For instance you can plan to take a vacation and go out of town. Sorry, but this is not a good comparison.

Even if many people left town, overall many more people were inhabiting these Olympic cities during the two weeks of the games than normal, and the results for the most part showed that people could get around fine even with significant reductions in the available roadway systems.

To me, it's supporting evidence that we probably have a lot more roads than we think we need. And if there's less, people find alternatives.

But if you don't buy that example, how about this one that lasted a lot longer than 2 weeks?

One of the world's leading traffic and transportation experts - Sam Schwartz - has a book many here may have read called Street Smart - the rise of cities and fall of cars. In one chapter he shares his time as NYC traffic commissioner and in 1973 the bridge on the West Side Highway leading into Manhattan's central business district collapsed. 80,000 vehicles a day travelled that bridge. So what solution did NYC come up with to help accommodate or redirect those 80,000 vehicles per day?
Says Schwartz "I would love to take credit for coming up with a brilliant solution that saved the city, but the truth is a lot more mundane and a lot more interesting. The predicted traffic disaster never appeared. Somehow those 80,000 cars went somewhere, but to this day we have no idea where. Or how, two years later, 25,000 more people were getting into Manhattan's central business district."
Finally he says:
"When a road's capacity is reduced, congestion doesn't necessarily increase. In fact the biggest and best study of reduction in road capacity shows that lane closures not only cause traffic to decrease on the road's remaining lanes, but only half the decrease reappears anywhere else."

"If you unbuild it, they will go away."
 

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