Let’s commit to a calm connection for active transportation in Downtown

On Tuesday, February 21, 2023, City Council will be holding a Public Hearing to vote on Bylaw 20345. Passing this bylaw would open 102 Avenue up to people, walking, rolling, and biking. It would close the road to vehicle traffic for one year period as part of a larger pilot. This completes a process initiated earlier in 2022, where Council narrowly voted in favour with initiating the pilot process.

We are again calling on council to vote in favour of this simple pilot project, which will create a calm, safe connection within the core for those getting around actively. We have so few streets within downtown that are not overwhelmed by vehicle traffic. Committing 102 Avenue to people creates an urban corridor that prioritizes people.

The City of Edmonton has identified some very real and challenging issues with the space, but incorrectly identified cars as a potential solution. Cars do not make streets more vibrant or safer. Stand beside Whyte Avenue when drivers rev their engines or along Jasper Avenue during rush hour. We know that that is quite the opposite. Legendary urbanist Jane Jacobs would disagree with the assertion that cars enhance security and natural surveillance.

  • When you are in a car, you were not in the community.
  • You are taking “refuge in [a vehicle]” and separated from your natural surroundings.
  • You were not able to connect or communicate with those that you were passing by and do not instill any sense community or support within the space.
An annotated excerpt from Jane Jacob’s “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”

Opening up 102 Avenue to people adds a little more people-oriented space in our downtown. It’s low-cost and high-impact way to do this. This 500 metre stretch of road will provide little utility for people driving, but could be the circulatory system of a vibrant, walkable downtown corridor. 

Many community organizations in the area can work together to ensure that this people-oriented space is a fun, safe, vibrant place to get around downtown.

This space isn’t perfect! It doesn’t fit our archetypical understanding of what a purpose-designed pedestrian corridor looks like. There are not businesses facing onto the street, or patio areas already established.

But that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on creating Edmonton’s only downtown corridor focused solely on people. Rather than being a destination itself, 102 Avenue can act as a backbone within our downtown, connecting vibrant programmable spaces, like 104 Street and Churchill Square.

We encourage you to reach out to all of city council, especially if you live nearby and/or use 102 Avenue!