Downtown Pedestrianization

Paths for People and UDI – Edmonton Metro are working with various organizations within Edmonton’s downtown to develop community-driven strategies and projects that support revitalization efforts and make streets that are friendlier places to walk and roll.

We developed a report that summarizes our findings so far and shares a handful of tangible actions that we will share with the City! This report is linked below and includes the following;

  • the key findings from our community survey; and
  • the tangible actions we are recommending based on research and engagement.

We shared a draft report based on feedback over the summer to ensure we are reflecting all the voices we engaged. We provided an opportunity for feedback over September and we have since finalized it and will launch it soon!

Community survey findings

We asked respondents over the Summer what their current experience of walking or rolling downtown was like. Below are two graphics that emphasize key negative and positive descriptors of respondents’ current experiences.

Negative words used to describe current experience
Positive words used to describe current experience

We asked respondents several questions about what they aspired downtown could become in terms of pedestrianization. Below is a graphic that emphasizes key descriptors of respondents’ visions for the future of walking and rolling downtown.

Words used to describe future vision for downtown

We also asked respondents to rank a list of types of improvements for walking and rolling infrastructure that could be undertaken downtown. The list below is ordered from most desired by respondents to least desired by respondents.

  1. Improving sidewalks (e.g. expanding narrow sidewalks and/or improving deteriorating sidewalks)
  2. Expanding cycling infrastructure (to reduce conflict between scooters/cyclists and others)
  3. Closing specific streets to automobile traffic
  4. Expanding the tree canopy
  5. Making it easier to host temporary street closures
  6. Improving crosswalks by ensuring that curb cuts are accessible
  7. Improving crosswalks by raising more crosswalks to sidewalk level
  8. Expanding the pedway network (e.g. increasing the number of above and below-ground pedways)

We asked respondents to identify specific streets that they thought should be focused on when it comes to improving the pedestrian experience. The graphic below displays where respondents thought we should prioritize efforts. The thicker the line, the greater the number of respondents who identified that street as a priority in terms of pedestrian improvements.

Priority corridors for pedestrianization provided respondents, with landmarks (right click for high resolution)

Actions: Path to Pedestrianization

We are looking feedback on any component of the report, but are encouraging direct feedback on the proposed actions. We want to ensure that what we recommend moving forward reflects all interest engaged. For now, please email [email protected] if you would like to provide some thoughts, concerns, or questions. In the next few weeks, we will be developing a survey where you can provide more specific feedback.

Based on developer interviews, policy review, and community surveys, we developed the following “Shared Interests.”

  • A fun and friendly pedestrian experience year-round – We all want to walk and roll around a downtown that is alive and well in all seasons, where opportunities for social interaction and happy, silly, little moments abound.
  • Connectivity of routes and connectivity to places of interest – We all want to walk and roll around a downtown that is made up of consistent sidewalks, streets, and public spaces that are well-furnished, well-built, and well-maintained infrastructure.
  • Accommodating all transportation modes thoughtfully – We understand that everyone needs to get around downtown and that this means we need to allocate space in a thoughtful way for all modes, placing an emphasis on enhancing the pedestrian experience.

Below are the recommend tangible collective actions, categorized based on “Shared Interests”

A fun and friendly pedestrian experience year-round

  • Target immediate improvements for shared and open streets at locations where there are existing street-level public and retail uses like 104 Street and Rice Howard Way, and develop a plan to expand this into a broader network as redevelopment opportunities arise.
  • Expand sidewalk width using temporary enhancements and/or permanent infrastructure redevelopment to support patios/sales/benches/trees, while maintaining a wide enough thoroughfare for all walking/rolling
  • Encourage redevelopment opportunities to integrate private/public spaces for throughway traffic, accessibility, and connectivity

Connectivity of routes and connectivity to places of interest

  • Enforce greater expectations for construction detours through better signage/warning/communication and heightened standards on what the detour experience is like (i.e. implemented safe/accessible ramps, minimizing rerouted distance of detour, temporarily shifting vehicle space to pedestrian space to minimize impact on the pedestrian experience).
  • Elevate expectations for streetscaping (i.e. trees, lighting, benches, curb cuts), ensure consistency throughout corridor, and prioritize renewal along major corridors
  • Enhance/expand LRT entrances to shift away remove any entrances that have narrow stairwells and find renewal opportunities to better integrate them with the public/private realm

Accommodating all transportation modes thoughtfully

  • Expand biking/scooting infrastructure throughout downtown in order to reduce conflict between cars/bikes and pedestrians/bikes
  • Implement the best possible shared open streets design or entire street closures at targeted locations at first (e.g., Rice Howard Way, 106 Street, 104 Street), and then expand throughout the downtown
  • Continue to have the conversation as a city where we shift our societal perspectives on parking/driving, focusing on maintaining it as an available option