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.
When Edmonton’s “City of Champions” signs were vandalized a couple of weeks ago I, like many Edmontonians, chuckled a little bit. Of course vandalism is stupid, and in this case it ended up costing the city a few dollars, but the alternative slogans were all fairly clever, and the craftsmanship looked quite good. I can appreciate the kind of dedication need to follow through on a joke like this.
There was one slogan though that irked me just a little though. You can probably guess which one too, the “Road Construction City” one. Yes there is a lot of construction in Edmonton, I’m not going to deny that. But for too long roads around the city have been neglected when it comes to maintenance and that’s catching up to us now. Add in growth pressures from suburban developments and the situation gets ugly in a hurry. The roads need to be repaired and/or upgraded and the construction season is short here, so I don’t really see an alternative to a lot of construction during the few months that it’s possible to build roads. As far as I’m concerned, you can complain about the construction or you can complain about the condition, but you can’t complain about both.