Inspired by the Streets for People Walkability Symposium and free public lecture taking place later this month, we’re taking a closer look at what makes Downtown walkable.
What makes a street enjoyable? A street you want to go to? A street that feels safe?
It’s the people.
But how do you encourage more people walk Downtown?
First off, it’s realizing just how walkable Downtown Edmonton really is. Most major sites and amenities are within a five to ten minute walk of one another. You can spend more time looping the block to find a close parking space than it takes to park a block further away and walk to your destination.
Helping you find your way
When you come out of an LRT station or out of parkade, finding your way can be difficult amongst the tall buildings.
Coming this fall, the City will be installing street-level map based signage in the busiest areas of the Downtown core to help people locate where they are, and how to get to their destination. In 2014, we tested placing signs in various locations Downtown and people found them to be very helpful.
The maps will show where you are in relation to major landmarks, buildings and LRT stations. You’ll also be able to gauge how long it will take to walk to your destination.
A variety of interim signage options will be used, that will be easy to move around as different construction projects start and finish. They will also be updated regularly as our Downtown changes.
Once areas under construction are completed, the City will install permanent signage in the core and throughout the rest of Downtown.
This work is part of a larger project called Pedestrian Wayfinding, which is setting the standard for pedestrian-focused wayfinding maps, apps and signage for our busy pedestrian areas and paths featuring multiple transportation modes.
By creating standards for how signage and maps are designed, we can better ensure that consistent map references, icons and language are used. It also helps ensure that signs are updated frequently and maintained by the City and its partners.
Part of the Pedestrian Wayfinding project also involves developing a new plan for signage and mapping in our pedway system to help people navigate the complex network between public and private buildings, LRT stations and parkades that is not always easy to navigate.
Building streets you want to walk on
Making a pedestrian-friendly street is a combination of many things. Wide sidewalks and lighting make it comfortable. Benches, trees, and art make it interesting. Attractive stores and restaurants facing the street, with patios, active frontages and destinations like parks, make it exciting.
The City has several programs to make this happen. The Green and Walkable project, funded by the Downtown Community Revitalization Levy, will bring infrastructure improvements to sidewalks, lighting and street furniture. The Façade Improvement Program helps businesses update their storefronts to be more attractive. And this spring, we break ground on Alex Decoteau Park, which is turning a gravel parking lot into a lush green space.
Inspiring walkable communities
Passionate about building a walkable Downtown? Curious about people-friendly, multi-modal cities? Jeff Speck, a leading thinker on urban design, is talking about how we can create a more people-friendly Downtown. Visit Edmonton.ca/GoDowntown for tickets.