There have been a couple of stories in the local news recently about residents of neighbourhoods in and around downtown having issues with the availability of on-street parking in their neighbourhoods. The problem arises when those who don’t live in the neighborhood choose to park there, maybe to visit a business on a nearby street, in other cases to avoid paying higher parking costs closer to downtown, leaving fewer spots behind for the people who actually live in the neighborhood.
I’m not completely unsympathetic to the concerns of the local resident in this case, but my general response to any story like this is always along the lines of “you don’t own the street in front of your house, so it is what it is.” Like it or not, roads are public property. That you live on a particular street doesn’t give you any more right to park in that spot than me. Parking a block away from you home may not be the most convenient option but it’s something that, for the vast majority of people, isn’t exactly the end of the world either. Continue reading
Don’t read the comments. Those are words to live by, and generally, I do a pretty decent job of doing just that. Whether it’s the comments on a story that I agree with, or a story that I don’t, I’ve found, like I’m sure many others have as well, that it’s often better to just avoid the crazy that inhabits the comment section and move on to something else. Sometimes though, for reasons that I can’t explain, I read the comments. And worse still, it’s almost always in a situation where there is a high likelihood of my finding something that will bother me.
This is what happened on Monday when I came across a story from CBC on the possibility of the speed limits on Jasper Avenue and Whyte Avenue being lowered as a measure to help improve pedestrian safety. This is a very interesting topic – one that I’ll eventually get to in the post – but any time that it’s even suggested that a speed limit should be reduced the knee jerk reaction from some is always going to be no. The situation or the reason for the change doesn’t matter, all that matters is that a reduced speed limit is wrong. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what I found in the comments.
As I sat down at my desk and logged onto my computer this morning I was greeted with a story in The Metro about the bike lanes on 102 Avenue which were supposedly going to be part of the 102 Avenue streetscape following construction of the Valley Line LRT. I say supposedly because what have long assumed to be a given now may no longer happen.
As of now nothing regarding the bike lanes has been finalized, but The Metro’s story includes the following quote from a spokesperson for the LRT project which sheds some light on what might be driving the removal of the bike lanes:
The 102 Avenue corridor is extremely narrow and we’re collaborating amongst departments to determine the best use of that area for the greatest benefit of Edmontonians. Accessibility for all transportation modes is a key consideration.
Both my office and my favourite pub are located on Jasper Avenue. And because I really like beer I find myself walking the nine blocks between the two probably at least once a week. Because of the rehabilitation work that was being completed on Jasper Avenue and below street level on Central Station there was an element of surprise to the walk for more than a year. Which side would be open? Would I have to cross Jasper multiple times? Where would the crosswalks be? But now that construction is complete (mostly) at street level those questions are a thing of the past and now I can enjoy the last three blocks of the walk in a friendlier pedestrian environment with much wider sidewalks.
For those that might not know, the Jasper Avenue rehabilitation work included reducing the portion of the right-of-way that was being used by cars and using the newfound space to widen the sidewalks. A cross-section that previously included on-street parking and two driving lanes in each direction has been shrunk down and is now just two lanes wide with the curb lane designated for parking during off peak hours. In terms of providing a space for pedestrians projects like this are fantastic in that they provide an attractive, pedestrian friendly corridor. In this case with that added benefit of having very little impact on those who drive Jasper Avenue since there is the same capacity available during rush hour – provided nobody parks on the street when they shouldn’t. Toss in a pedestrian scramble intersection at 100A Street and this is the kind of project that I can’t help but like.
And I do like it, but I’d like to suggest something if I could: Change the signal timings just a little bit, please. Continue reading
By Jacklee. (Own work.) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
On Saturday, my wife and I, along with a friend, headed for the Downtown Farmers Market, and since my wife is less than mobile right now, the result of foot surgery a couple of weeks ago, we opted to drive. Living just outside of what most consider to be downtown in Rossdale we usually prefer to walk but that just wasn’t an option on this day, not unless I wanted to carry Emily up the hill, and the be totally honest that didn’t much interest me. Because we happened to be driving and not walking as we normally would I noticed how little sense the traffic signals in and around downtown make on the weekend.
On the trip to the market and again on the way back we stopped at a red light at the intersection of 99 Street and 101A Avenue. Even if I ignore for a minute that 99 Street is ridiculously overbuilt in this area with two travel lanes for north and south bound traffic plus on-street parking in both directions I really can’t get my head around why the signals would be on a fixed timing pattern when there is next to no traffic on either street. The purpose of a traffic signal is assign right-of-way to vehicles and pedestrians. When used properly they promote orderly traffic movement and to prevent excessive delays. In this case though the signals are the only thing delaying traffic. And that’s a problem; one that, luckily, can be easily fixed.