Paths for People recommends expanded sidewalks, more transportation options for Whyte Avenue

Some lanes on Whyte Avenue have been closed to give reopening businesses more room to welcome customers back during the pandemic. May 28, 2020. (CTV News Edmonton)

A group focused on making Alberta’s capital city more pedestrian friendly wants to see Edmonton keep Whyte Avenue’s expanded sidewalks and get creative when talking traffic and transit in the area.

After surveying 450 residents primarily of the Strathcona, Garneau, Queen Alexandra and Ritchie neighbourhoods, Paths for People is making the recommendations before Edmonton digs into Whyte Avenue renewal work.

“Looking back into the past, too, Whyte Avenue was a street with a street car on it at one point. It has looked a certain way for a few decades, and it will look different in the future,” the organization’s chair, Stephen Raitz, told CTV News Edmonton.

“We wanted to make sure we got in front of that and started working on that community vision together.”

Between June 15 and July 31, Paths for People asked for opinions on tree coverage, parking, vehicle traffic, transit options and more, plus what improvements residents most and least wanted to see.

Based on the responses, Paths for People is making two recommendations.

“One, let’s prioritize those people places, like the sidewalk, and two, let’s provide people with transportation options so that we can avoid congestion in the long term,” Raitz said.

One of the most popular messages was that residents wanted more sidewalk space along Whyte Avenue.

They also reported wanting better street features, like lights and benches, and varied transit options. Raitz said Whyte Avenue is known as a lower-priority location to bring in LRT access, but there are other options to improve commuter experience with rapid busing or redirect traffic to other routes.

Read the full report online.