22nd Street in Saskatoon bisects some of the poorest neighbouroods in the city, those that are the least likely to own cars and the most likely to walk or use transit. As discussed in Part 1 of our series 22nd is also among the most dangerous streets in the province, with double-digit pedestrian-car collisions resulting in injury or death in 2017 alone.
Knowing the vulnerable population that relies on this street for access to education, services, groceries, jobs and health care, what care does the city take to ensure safe and accessible conditions along this corridor? Let’s take a look.
The only grocery store in the area is on 22nd and Avenue W. To get there involves traversing streets that look like this:
It’s probably best to think of it like a video game when you are pushing a shopping cart full of groceries or a stroller down these streets. Make it fun for youself while you try to avoid slipping on the ice and snow into the street.
The city and media don’t like to acknowledge dangerous conditions for walkers on 22nd, perferring to repeatedly blame pedestrians for jaywalking even though the large majority of pedestrian-involved crashes on 22nd are the fault of the car driver.
However, even when a pedestrian crosses against the right of way can they really be blamed? Not only are the streets on 22nd by and large inaccessible due to snow, ice, dirt, dust, narrowness and lack of curb cuts but even an alternative route through parallel streets is full of dangers:
Saskatoon owes a basic right to its citizens of safe and accessible transportation. This is not happening right now where its needed most, and it’s a shameful and continuing failure of the whole city. 22nd street is dangerous by design and needs to be made safer immediately.
Continue on to our next post where we present immediate and desperately needed fixes to make 22nd Street safer for walkers.
While the city has embarked on a stakeholder engagement process to “Imagine Idylwyld” not much has been done to improve 22nd.
So what can we do to improve the notorious corridor? The city has been considering making changes to the stretch of road since prior to 2015. They have installed a couple of pedestrian activated traffic lights and have mused about several other interventions; some easy and inexpensive like desynchronizing lights or narrowing drive lanes and some more difficult/expensive/disruptive like installing fences or pedestrian overpasses.
Vision Zero suggest some fast fixes to improve places where drivers and people meet. Among them, there are several that stand out for 22nd Street. Here are are our Vision Zero-inspired recommendations for starting to make 22nd Street safe and accesible for all road users:
Painting crosswalks at uncontrolled intersections and adding rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) is an easy and cheap way to indicate to drivers to watch for pedestrians while providing more points to cross. Existing crosswalks also need to be properly maintained.
Bring sidewalks up to code and make them passable in all seasons.
The city has a legal and moral responsibility to build sidewalks to code and maintain them in a passable state in all seasons. This means increasing the size of sidewalks to conform with ADA code, shoveling and de-icing in winter and removing water and dust in summer. Even better would be added treed medians to shield walkers from traffic.
Enforce speed limits and traffic infractions with automated cameras that would be used as dedicated funding for streetscape improvements. Reducing speed limits would help but be tremendously unpopular and likely unsuccessful based on the road design.
Enforcing current traffic rules on speed, pedestrian right-of-way and red lights would make the street much safer and the fine money raised would be used to fund streetscape and safety improvements.
Saskatoon has had Vision Zero on its radar since its strategic Traffic Safety Action Plan (TSAP) in 2013. It’s been almost five years without any significant commitments to follow through. It’s encouraging to note that two city councillors and Mayor Charlie Clark have confirmed via Twitter in early January that they “are seriously looking into Vision Zero”. Here’s hoping they put their words into action soon.
Thank you. We are seriously looking into Vision Zero for #yxe.
With the city currently engaged in planning for the future bus rapid transit along this corridor, along with the Transit Village near the Confederation Drive intersection and on the heels of the city’s “Imagine Idylwyld” stakeholder engagement and design, Saskatoon has a historic opportunity to re-imagine 22nd Street as a place for people – or at the very least a place where people can cross the street without fear.
22nd Street is a major roadway in Saskatoon in need of a fundamental rethinking, but first we need to stop the bleeding. The wide street used to function as a thoroughfare for highway and truck traffic making its way through the city, but with the opening of Circle Drive South, 22nd Street’s core function changed. Now it is an ultra-wide arterial street connecting the city’s westernmost neighbourhoods to the core while bisecting some very walkable neighbourhoods.
The city is also planning a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system and has identified 22nd Street as a key corridor making it exist currently in a state of flux. We are at an interesting moment for 22nd Street providing us with an opportunity to re-imagine the corridor into a great street. This is an excellent idea that will take time to bring the vision to fruition. In the meantime there are some serious concerns that the street is not safe for pedestrians.
The 25 blocks of 22nd Street between Idylwyld Drive and Whitney Avenue is about as bad as it gets for vulnerable user design. There are some critical issues with the design of 22nd street. It is a major west-central arterial roadway that has some similarities to the major north-central arterial road, Idylwyld drive. Both streets are anchored by car centric businesses in their commercial zones but they also bisect residential neighbourhoods for long sections.
On Idylwyld there are generally a maximum of 5 lanes (4 driving + 1 left turn) to cross at any given time, 22nd St has an average of 7 (6 + 1 left turn) from Idylwyld through to Whitney Ave. There are only eight controlled points to cross the street between Idylwyld and Whitney. At these points of crossing, there is only a small median that limits the pedestrian clustering area mid road. The wide road width and few controlled intersections encourage faster speeds making collisions between drivers and vulnerable road users more dangerous.
Check back in a few days for our suggested fixes to make 22nd St. safer for all road users