Extreme Makeover: Sidewalk Edition

Ah good ol’ Churchill Avenue.  For years its sidewalks quietly crumbled and listed; the north winds would scatter litter along it, imprisoning it in its cracks and crevices. Its many stately homes attested to grander times but with each passing day Churchill was getting a little older, a little crummier.

The bike lanes are supposed to be one-way but I've used them in either direction as have others. There is enough room for cyclists to pass each other on the track without straying into pedestrian territory.

The bike lanes are supposed to be one-way but I’ve used them in either direction as have others. There is enough room for cyclists to pass each other on the track without straying into pedestrian territory.

But then it got a makeover! Its sidewalks are now things of beauty and there are several other nifty bits that add to its charm: raised bike lanes called cycle tracks, separate pedestrian, bike and vehicle traffic signals, and lots of easy to spot signage.

The facelift is what they call a complete street in transportation circles. Complete streets look different depending on what city you’re in, even what neighbourhood, but in general they include something for everybody regardless of ability or age.

Rebecca O’Brien is a program coordinator with the Sustainable Alberta Association (SAA), which works on transportation initiatives including the annual Commuter Challenge. She says the philosophy behind complete streets is to design for the most vulnerable.

I was impressed with the snow removal job on the sidewalk and particularly the bike lane this past winter.  Although there are fewer cyclists in winter pedestrians benefit from this as ice melts more quickly on the black asphalted cycle track than it does on the white concrete sidewalk.

Although the paint job got a bit schmucked by the snow plows, I was impressed with the snow removal job this past winter. The sidewalk and cycle tracks were almost always clear.

“If you design a street for a 10-year old, a person in a wheelchair or a senior with a walker,” she says, “you will create streets that work for everyone.”

Additional resources

Complete Streets: Making Canada’s roads safer for all. Case study written by Sharon Boddy and Jay Kassirer for Transport Canada.

Dutch Design in the Nation’s Capital: Churchill Ave, Ottawa

Complete Streets for Canada

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s