Safe Mobility Strategy

On December 1, 2020, Paths for People spoke to members of Edmonton City Council regarding the Safe Mobility Strategy. This strategy is an update to the Road Safety Strategy from 2016, which was Edmonton’s first strategy to work towards Vision Zero.

Vision Zero is the City’s goal to save lives and eliminate serious injuries in our transportation system. This is done through the application of an evidence-based approach that uses engineering, education, engagement and enforcement to create safer streets and livable neighbourhoods for everyone.

The Safe Mobility Strategy will help shape how Edmonton’s streets are planned, designed, built, activated, and maintained. Significant progress has been made toward Vision Zero, and the Safe Mobility Strategy will continue this momentum and support a healthy, connected, and thriving city. Read the full strategy here.

Paths for People is glad to add our voice in support of the City’s Safe Mobility Strategy. This Strategy will move the City towards achieving its goal of Vision Zero and will ensure that our streets become safer and more liveable for all users.

We love the Safe Mobility Strategy and believe that adopting it will be a huge step toward achieving Vision Zero and creating the kind of safe, connected, livable city we all want. We believe that everyone deserves to have a safe experience when they move through our city, regardless of the mode of transportation they use. And this Strategy sets out a roadmap for achieving just that. 

There are several aspects of this Strategy that we are particularly excited about: 

First, we fully support how this strategy is data driven and based on research and best practices

Second, we fully support how this Strategy treats different modes of transportation equitably. It is neither prioritizing nor disadvantaging certain modes over others. Rather it simply recognizes that currently some people moving around our city feel less safe, more vulnerable than others. And in order to level the playing field, we are going to have to even things up, providing better infrastructure, design, and education to protect, for instance, pedestrians, cyclists, and people using mobility aids. This is not about punishing cars or car drivers or taking away from motorists. It’s about ensuring that everyone can have the same safe experience getting around our city. 

Third, we strongly support the Strategy’s recognition that a crucial step in achieving Vision Zero is building new, better, smarter infrastructure. Sidewalks, signalled crosswalks, bike lanes, traffic calming measures–these things work, if done smartly. We’ve seen that with the Downtown Bike Network and the 102 Avenue bike lane, for instance. 

Fourth, we believe this Strategy will help achieve mode shift, which in turn, will decrease carbon emissions. When people feel safe walking and cycling, they’ll do it. Look at the success last summer of the COVID measures to create Shared Streets. With the temporary measures the city quickly installed, people felt safe and took to the streets like crazy. If you build it, people will come and walk and ride and roll on it. And that takes pressure off car routes and lowers the overall carbon output.

Finally, we appreciate the Strategy’s dual emphasis on both specific, concrete, location-based actions and on more abstract system-wide actions–cultural shifts in how we think about mobility. In recent years, Edmonton has seen some success with the former; but in order to truly achieve Vision Zero, we now also need to work on the latter, a task that is much more challenging. We’re talking about changing the behavior of humans. But it can be done. And we particularly like how the strategy emphasizes the need for collaboration–between the City, police, communities, schools, and other stakeholders. That’s the only way systemic change will happen: through a broad coalition of partners.  

In fact, we want to be one of those partners. Paths for People is ready and willing to contribute! We’ve had many successes through programming and events that we’ve facilitated with partners–like Open Streets in 2019 on Jasper Avenue–that showcase how our streets can work differently, how they can be safer and more liveable. We’d love to work with the city and community groups, for instance, on the Vision Zero Street Labs, where we can put our passion and expertise to work. 

The benefits of the Safe Mobility Strategy could be enormous: for physical health, but also mental health, community building, business, and the environment. Let’s make it happen!