Room to move: City of Edmonton opening up 10 kilometres of road to pedestrians, cyclists for more distancing space

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Edmontonians will have more room to roam on city streets for the second year in a row in response to COVID-19 orders.

The program launched Friday, a few weeks earlier than the initial May timeline, with the city opening up a lane on Victoria Promenade to walkers, rollers and cyclists to create more distancing space.

Olga Messinis, the city’s director of traffic operations, said 10 kilometres of roadway across 14 street segments will form the core of this year’s program, but the city will continue engaging with community groups looking at options for more space. The other roadways will open up once street sweeping is complete, with new spaces expected to roll out on a weekly basis. The program is starting quite a bit smaller than last year’s that saw 28 kilometres of space allocated to active transportation on 33 road segments.

“We kind of landed on 10 kilometres being the core set of routes. With a lot of these routes, they were the ones that were most well-used and also not impacted by the construction program this year,” Messinis told reporters Friday morning. “As we continue to engage with stakeholders, that list may grow but right now what we can say is that 10 kilometres of established routes is our starting point.”


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There are two types of offerings in the program, both marked with signage and new speed limits.

Shared streets are open to pedestrians, cyclists as well as local vehicle traffic. Since all modes of transportation are using the same space, the speed limit is reduced to 20 km/h. The other offering, dubbed “mobility lanes”, will close lanes to vehicle access and open them up to active transportation users for physical activity. Speed limits on these road segments will be reduced to 40 km/h.

Last summer, the city decided to reallocate streets to active transportation modes in order to provide more room to distance during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they were all removed by the end of October.

A University of Alberta study on the program found the streets were well used by pedestrians and reduced the number of physical distancing violations on Saskatchewan Drive by 52.4 per cent.

Paths for People chairman Stephen Raitz said the 10 kilometres is a good start but he is hoping to see more roads added to allow for better connectivity across the city. Downtown and Oliver are being served by the initial routes, but Raitz said work needs to be done to include more roads south of the river in Garneau and Strathcona.

“Although there’s renewal going on in those neighbourhoods we still need to be providing spaces like these on streets that may not get torn up so people have access to safe spaces to be outside and be active,” he said. “It’s not good enough to have it piecemeal. People would like to be able to connect all the way across the city on safe infrastructure and that means that we need to add a lot of spaces.”


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Implementation of last year’s program cost about $120,000 and although there isn’t a determined amount for this year, Messinis said it is expected to be less because the city will be reusing a lot of the signs and equipment.

Here is a list of the planned shared streets to be rolled out in the coming weeks:

  • Ada Boulevard: 111 Avenue shared-use path to 50 Street
  • Ada Boulevard: 109 Avenue to 104 Avenues shared-use path
  • 103 Avenue: 124 Street to 111 Street
  • Jasper Avenue: 124 Street to 125 Street
  • 125 Street: Jasper Avenue to 103 Avenue
  • 103 Avenue: 125 Street to 124 Street
  • 115 Street: 103 Avenue to alley south of 100 Avenue
  • 114 Street: 103 Avenue to 104 Avenue
  • 108 Street: 100 Avenue to 104 Avenue
  • 96 Street: 111 Avenue to 103A Avenue

Planned mobility lanes:

  • Victoria Promenade: 116 Street to 121 Street
  • Victoria Park Road: 116 Street to River Valley Road
  • 104 Street: University Avenue to Saskatchewan Drive
  • Saskatchewan Drive: 105 Street to 109 Street

104 Street vehicle closure

In an effort to provide more room for restaurants to serve customers outdoors, the city will also be closing down two blocks of 104 Street to vehicle access this weekend. From Jasper Avenue to 102 Avenue, 104 Street will be a pedestrian road for the next two weekends from 8 a.m. Saturday until 11 p.m. Sunday. Half a block will also be closed in front of the Mercer Warehouse at 104 Avenue. The street will be used to accommodate extended patio space in support of Downtown Dining Week. 


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