There was a debate yesterday on Twitter about a column in Metro about making more room for people along Jasper Avenue here in Edmonton.
Well, why shouldn’t we? Seems obvious, doesn’t it? I’m all for people and making room for them. I’m a person myself, most days, and I like my room too.
Except, what the author proposed is a little ridiculous, but I understand where he’s coming from. Jasper Avenue is a major traffic artery in downtown Edmonton and the author said:
“I would get rid of the on-street parking and narrow that six-block section of Jasper to two lanes. Doing so would create a hue and cry that it would make it harder to find a place to park and make it more difficult for traffic to move through that part of the city. My response would be that was exactly the intent.”
The author is in favour of transit, as am I, but the author thinks that any extensions to the LRT should come with corresponding reductions in parking downtown to “encourage” people to use transit.
Sorry, but that is just dumb. It’s like a doctor saying to a patient “sorry, but you’ve got lung cancer. To treat it, we’re going to cut off blood flow to your lungs. One possible side effect is that it may kill you.” Oops!
Doesn’t it make sense to treat the cancer but not kill the patient? Cars are not the cancer downtown though. Part of downtown’s problem is that there are more options for people outside of downtown, so they go there. Making it more difficult for people to travel and park downtown will not help downtown Edmonton.
Yes, expanding the LRT is good, depending on how it’s done, but it makes more sense to have a healthy efficient transportation system that is capable of handling as much traffic as possible. Why would you narrow the arteries in the heart of the city?
A people-friendly city is good, and there are ways of making it more people friendly without ruining the transportation system. I’m sure restaurant owners on Jasper would love the patio space, but it may come at the expense of having fewer customers to populate them.
As much as we’d like to have LRT all over the city, the fact remains that it’s not there yet. Cars are going to be the main form of transportation for the foreseeable future. They may run on gas, be hybrids, be electric and may eventually fly (God help us if Edmonton drivers could fly), but cars will be around. Edmonton’s 100-year transit plan predicts a population, eventually, of three million people in Edmonton. You think they’re all going to use transit?
No doubt with fewer parking spaces, those that remain will skyrocket in price. Of course with better transit options, more will use transit. Yes, more people should live downtown, close to where they work.
I think a policy to narrow Jasper Avenue would actually exacerbate Edmonton’s sprawl problem though. If driving downtown is such a pain, people won’t do it. I already limit my travel downtown and prefer meetings outside of it. I rarely go to any shops or the mall downtown. Why should I when I have options more convenient elsewhere?
I’m sure that’s not what downtown businesses want to hear. It’s already a pain to go there for a lot of Edmontonians, so they avoid it too.
The author suggested making changes to Jasper Avenue’s odd infrastructure and I totally agree. It’s not the best looking place and could use a serious spruce up. There’s not a huge amount of parking there, so one could eliminate some parking but still keep at least four lanes of traffic.
But, isn’t an LRT route proposed for Jasper Avenue already? That would eliminate at least two lanes of traffic right there. That’s a whole other topic, but I will say that street level LRT is insanity. Montreal and Vancouver have the right idea with a mix of above ground and below ground subways and Skytrains.
I also agree with the author about getting rid of sodium vapour lights. They are butt ugly. The new lights on 118th Avenue from 82 Street to 97 Street are very nice. They’ve done a great job on there.
One of the most annoying things about driving downtown is the side streets. It seems like most of the lights are on a particularly long timer, which is nothing but frustrating. It would be nice if the city did some work on timing lights and installing more sensors throughout the city to help move traffic along more efficiently. It’s no wonder Edmonton drivers are an angry lot. It might even ease the load on emergency rooms. I’m sure many drivers come in with head injuries from smashing their head in frustration on the steering wheel.
Making Edmonton a more pleasant and liveable city is a laudable goal. What I hope our city leaders recognize is that our transportation system needs healthy arteries, giving it increased capacity as the city grows. Fail to do that and they may just kill the patient.