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Edmonton Trail pedestrian safety a ‘crisis’ says area councillor

Two pedestrian incidents in five days along Edmonton Trail NE at the same intersection have residents and one of the area councillors calling for immediate upgrades.

Councillor Druh Farrell said Edmonton Trail between Memorial Drive and 16 Avenue NE is an unusual combination of a high-speed road through an established community that’s lined with retail.

“Normally we would have streets lined with retail and they would have wider sidewalks, we would allow on street parking and improve the conditions for pedestrian safety,” Farrell said.

We took a drive northbound on Edmonton Trail to see the issues for ourselves. VIDEO BY DARREN KRAUSE

It’s been a troubling stretch of road, with 12 pedestrian-involved incidents on that corridor over the past 15 months, according to traffic data from 2018 and tweeted incidents in 2019 via @yyctransport. The two most recent happened five days apart at the same 12 Avenue crossing on March 5 and 10.

“We hear repeatedly from the communities adjacent that they’re afraid to cross the street,” Farrell said.

David Barrett, VP External with the Renfrew Community Association said the roadway is “notoriously not pedestrian friendly.”

“There’s a lot of crossings that are uncontrolled and low visibility, or just limited crossings, period,” he said.

Barrett said the most recent city traffic counts peg the volume around 22,000 cars daily. He said it’s become a popular high-speed route.

“And as a result, the lacking pedestrian infrastructure is becoming more and more evident. There’s a seeming uptick in pedestrian vehicle incidents,” Barrett said.

Tweet from @ZiadFazel on the Edmonton Trail situation. TWITTER

“We don’t want to diminish the traffic flow, but we also want to make it a lot safer for pedestrians.”

Farrell said the city’s created an unsafe condition and now it’s their responsibility to fix it.

“I would consider the state of Edmonton Trail a crisis. When communities are afraid to cross the street, they see collisions or near collisions on a regular basis, you’ve got a problem,” she said.

Farrell added that the area already has a burgeoning retail area and it would be bolstered with pedestrian improvements.

“Surprisingly we have really vibrant retails, adjacent to some pretty high density neighbourhoods,” she said.  

“So, there’s huge potential for this to become more than just a commuter corridor. And in fact, we must recognize that it’s more than a commuter corridor.”

Barrett said that with the higher density comes more people making their trek into the downtown, so on virtually every block people are traversing Edmonton Trail to reach their destination. Further, as Farrell mentioned, there’s a growing retail community, with restaurants, pubs, shops and Barrett said people living in the area are crossing to reach those locations.

The community association and the area’s councillors, Farrell and Gian-Carlo Carra, along with city administration, will be doing a walking tour of the area next week to identify some of the concerns and to plan the next steps.

Barrett noted they’ve been encouraged to stay patient and wait for Main Streets funding or public realm improvements that go along with the introduction of the Green Line, but he said there are urgent needs in the area that could be addressed as they wait for a longer-term fix. He said there’s ongoing uncertainty over the Main Street timelines, too.  

“We’re really keen to see Edmonton Trail as a Main Street and going through that process,” he said, noting that designed speed reductions would make a major difference.

“Doing it properly is a very important thing for us. But in the short term there’s things that just need to be done.”

Edmonton Trail during the night time at one of the crossings. Note the narrow sidewalk. COURTESY DAVID BARRETT

He’d like to see better lighting and basic things such as visible painted crosswalks as a start.

Farrell said the walkabout should turn up immediate solutions that could be identified within the next few months to a year, while the longer term solutions will be mapped out.

No one from City of Calgary Transportation could be made available for comment on the corridor. They did provide an emailed statement.

“The Edmonton Trail corridor has recently been identified by citizens as an area where improvements could be made for pedestrian crossings,” the statement read.

“The City is collecting pedestrian data (to determine) the appropriate enhancements for this corridor. The City is also working with the community to gather this information over the coming months.”