Edmonton begins to open shared streets, mobility lanes for 2021 season

With the snow melting and weather warming up, the City of Edmonton is once again going to open up shared streets and mobility lanes for the public to use this spring and summer.

The lanes were offered last year as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic to get people outside to bike, walk and move while practicing physical distancing, according to the city.

“We’re still not out of the woods yet with respect to the pandemic,” said Olga Messinis, director of traffic operations with the City of Edmonton.

“We really want to make sure Edmontonians, whether they’re on foot, whether they’re on a bike or using a mobility aid or wheeling around on a scooter, that they’re aware and they know that these spaces exist. They’re a great opportunity to get out there and get some physical activity.”

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Read more: Edmonton to begin dismantling shared streets installed to encourage physical distancing

This year, 10 kilometres of shared streets and mobility lanes will open across the city. The first will open along Victoria Promenade on Friday. Other routes will open up as street sweeping finishes up in the coming weeks.

There is a difference between shared streets and mobility lanes. On shared streets, vehicle access is restricted to local traffic only. All modes of transportation — vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, etc. — use the same space, so the speed limit on these streets is reduced to 20 km/h.

Shared streets are planned in the following areas:

  • Ada Boulevard: 111 Avenue shared-use path to 50 Street
  • Ada Boulevard: 109 Avenue to 104 Avenue shared-use path
  • 103 Avenue: 124 Street to 111 Street
  • Jasper Avenue: 124 Street to 125 Street
  • 125 Street: Jasper Avenue to 103 Avenue
  • 103 Avenue: 125 Street to 124 Street
  • 115 Street: 103 Avenue to alley south of 100 Avenue
  • 114 Street: 103 Avenue to 103A Avenue
  • 108 Street: 100 Avenue to 104 Avenue
  • 96 Street: 111 Avenue to 103A Avenue

Mobility lanes take away a lane of vehicle traffic for people to use for physical activity. Speed limits on the adjacent roads are lowered to 40 km/h.

Mobility lanes are planned in the following areas:

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  • Victoria Promenade: 116 Street to 121 Street
  • Victoria Park Road: 116 Street to River Valley Road
  • 104 Street: University Avenue to Saskatchewan Drive
  • Saskatchewan Drive: 105 Street to 109 Street
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The 10 kilometres of roadway being utilized this year is a drop from the 28 kilometres of total roadway designated for shared street and mobility lanes last year.

“A lot of the roadways that we are implementing these measures on were selected based on higher-population densities, higher pedestrian activity and the type and design of the roadway,” Messinis explained.

“Safety as well as feedback that we were able to gather from the 2020 implementation have informed the body of work that is moving forward this year.”

Read more: Edmonton opens some streets to cars, cyclists and pedestrians amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Last year, the total cost of the program was $120,000. While a final dollar figure for this year’s program is not yet known, Messinis anticipates it will cost less than last year due to the reduced mileage and the city’s ability to reuse materials from last year, such as COVID signage.

Due to limited resources through the pandemic, the city said limited data was collected last year related to the usage of the shared streets, and that the data differs extensively depending on the locations.

A partnership study with the University of Alberta showed that the widening of the shared-use portion along Saskatchewan Drive led to a 52.4 per cent reduction in physical distancing violations in 2020. Along Victoria Promenade, the street changes led to a 24.5 per cent reduction in violations, according to the study.

For more information on the shared streets and mobility lanes, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.

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