The Kelsey-Woodlawn/Mayfair Local Area Plan, released last year, did a nice job capturing the needs of pedestrians in those neighbourhoods. The plan is full of great ideas, from sidewalk construction for the well-used routes around the SaskPoly parking lot and St. Michael’s school just off 33rd to traffic calming around area parks to ensuring that a pedestrian walkway is part of the proposed overpass at Airport Drive and Circle.
However, PDF documents full of good intentions have a hard time in Saskatoon instantiating themselves into physical changes. The Mayfair LAP itself talking about the impressive sounding ‘Priority 1 List’ of streets that need sidewalk installation, but sidewalk installation has no funding in the City’s budget, making any tiered designation farcical.
Another example of this disconnect between documents and reality happened recently when the City announced that the recently purchased rail line behind the Legion near 25th would be converted into a parking lot. This area was part of the proposed greenway areas in the North Downtown Master Plan. With the NDMP not anywhere near implementation this is not the worst idea in the world but it shows how long the cycle is to get any sort of pedestrian improvement finished, if ever.
Name a recent positive trend in walkable urbanism and Calgary’s politicians and planners are right on top of it. The city released their Complete Streets plan in 2014, forcing all new and retrofit road construction to be designed for safety and convenience for all traffic modes. While not yet reaching the standards required by Vision Zero Initiatives this plan was a great step forward and included actual bylaws to enforce the city’s vision.
Last month, Calgary followed up on their Complete Streets plan by releasing the new Pedestrian Strategy Report. This is a fantastic read on the current state of pedestrian-focused design in North America and lays out clear goals for Calgary to increase its walk share from 11.7% currently to 15% by 2025. The city will get there by first focusing on safety changes and small capital projects in the existing pedestrian network: mid-block crossings, lower residential speed limits and building sidewalk infill.
This plan is a great example for what our own city’s Growing Forward Active Transportation plan should look like and also serves as a great primer for getting up-to-date on the latest in walk-centered urbanism. Calgary has always been an aspirational model for Saskatoon, let’s follow their lead on making walkable urban design a priority.
Plus Calgary is building a fricking Circle Drive for trails!
If you are interested in this issue, or others surrounding walking in the city of Saskatoon, contact us via e-mail or Twitter.