Sunday, June 22, 2014

Open House June 26: Downtown Enhancement Project Phase 4

The District will hold an Open House on the Downtown Enhancement Project Phase 4 on Thursday, June 26, 4 pm to 8 pm at MR Municipal Hall, in the lobby area at the Dewdney Trunk Road entrance.
"This project will build on the earlier projects completed in 2011 and 2013 and support Council's goals for the revitalization of the Town Centre and add to the vibrancy of the area. The objectives of the Downtown Enhancement Projects include increasing the livability of the Town Centre, supporting business growth and encouraging future investment in the area, while enhancing the street experience for pedestrians and shoppers and the safety of road users." (note that cyclists are not mentioned here, even though Selkirk is a bike route). You can view the conceptual designs for both part 1 (Lougheed Highway from 224 Street to 226 Street) and part 2 (Selkirk Avenue from 225 Street to 226 Street) of this project.
Note that for the previous phases of this project, HUB requested bike lanes on Lougheed, since Lougheed has many shops, which are not only destinations for drivers, but also for cyclists. However, we were told that the traffic volumes are too high (some 26,000 cars per day), and since Lougheed Highway is not part of the cycling network (we feel it should be!), no improvements such as bike lanes were necessary for cycling there, and the widened sidewalks would "accommodate" both pedestrians and cyclists. It's obvious that there is a problem with designing for cycling on the sidewalk right in the town core, and Council recognizes that. That's why a review of the Highways and Traffic by-law where it allows cycling on the sidewalk was recommended in a recent staff report and will likely be done in the near future. Council will need to decide whether Lougheed should continue to be just a major traffic sewer, or a shopping street, and this decision should be reflected in whether the road will accommodate people (including both pedestrians AND cyclists) or just cars. Perhaps this could be a somewhat longer term vision: when the Haney Bypass gets widened to 4 lanes all the way to Kanaka Way, 2 car lanes on Lougheed in the Town Core could be re-allocated for buffered bike lanes, which would dramatically improve the shopping experience and vibrancy of Lougheed. Parking can be preserved, and possibly serve as a buffer between bikes and moving cars.
As to Selkirk, it takes more than just drawing a line on a map to make a street into a good bike route. Good bike routes have as few stop signs and (non priority) intersections as possible. Selkirk, as it is now, has many intersections with 2-way stop signs to navigate. The fact that traffic is increasing on the north south routes and will continue to do so in the future, further decreases the quality of this bike route. In my experience, many drivers stop for cyclists who are trying to cross even when they shouldn't stop. This makes it actually more dangerous to cross since other drivers may not stop and everything becomes more unpredictable and confusing.
Pedestrian access on this particular section of Selkirk is particularly poor. On the south-west side, at the intersection with 225th, there's some hydro and whatever else poles that completely obstruct the short section of sidewalk. Further east there is no sidewalk on the south side. On the north side, the sidewalk only runs part of the way going west.
Pedestrian access going from Haney Place Mall parking lot at Thrifty's to the Scotiabank shopping plaza v.v. is terrible and should be improved.

Here's the link to the multi-modal transportation network map for the Town Core.
Please consider attending the Open House and giving your input.

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