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August 20, 2017
May 11, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, May 12, 2017

Good news on the traffic front

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Collisions, injuries and deaths are all trending down in Edmonton.

Edmonton’s office of Traffic Safety is out with its annual report, and the TLDR is that it’s good news, with our number of collisions down year-over-year and continuing to trend down over the last few years.

But, and you knew that there was a “but” was coming because you’re getting used to our cynical ways, there are still some troubling numbers for people who aren’t driving.

The number of people involved in collisions while walking, cycling or riding motorcycles are all down less than the overall average drop. Half of the deaths in 2016 were people walking, and that actually increased as a percentage of the people killed in collisions (12/31 in 2015 and 10/21 in 2016), and has been trending up since 2013. People over the age of 65 are the most likely to be killed walking around Edmonton. And most of the injuries and deaths of people walking were while they had the right of way. So, we need to continue our efforts not just around education campaigns to “share the road” and “look out for each other” but put real work – and money – into changing how our roads connect and cross and where we can do better jobs of protecting the most vulnerable road users.

Collision stats over the last 15 years. (click to enlarge)

If people crossing legally are still most likely to die, it means we need to slow down more people driving in more places so more collisions can be survived. We also need to take real action around our many, many crosswalks and intersections in need of work. And we need to start to building raised crosswalks, mid-block crossings and curb extensions to make it easier to get across the street while also slowing down cars in our neighbourhoods and on our busy pedestrian streets like Whyte Avenue. (The City’s Neighbourhood Renewal program would be an excellent, and easy, way to make this happen faster because it already re-does the entire roadway network in a community.)

That CBC story linked to above has a good rundown on some of the key numbers from the report. And you can read through the report yourself, at this link to the PDF. Overall, Edmonton’s roads are getting safer, so now it’s time to capitalize and put more money into infrastructure changes that allow us to build upon people’s better behaviour to not only reduce collisions but save lives.

Also, more cynicism now, why is this not a story in every newsroom? It’s weird that only CBC and Global have the story (and Global is a re-write of the news release).


(more) Traffic and transportation news

Oh wait! I found out why everyone was too busy to dig into the traffic safety report. The provincial government announced a review of photo radar, and boy do newsrooms like photo radar stories. It’s probably a close second to pothole complaints.

We were talking about photo radar in yesterday’s Headlines because Spruce Grove was reporting big declines in speeding and collisions because of its use. So, while every newsroom jumps all over this in their (un)conscious bias toward people who drive, we’re going to zig on their zag. Photo radar can be used as an effective tool for traffic safety. Yeah, that’s right, we’re ok with it! (And we’re also ok with it being more data-driven and used in the most effective ways, so hopefully that’s what comes of the provincial review.)

Also, in fairness, newsrooms might have missed the traffic safety story because they were right on top of the mayor shaving his beard.

Edmonton Transit continues to shift resources to busier routes, and areas of the city more people are using transit. Another 50,000 hours of bus time will shift this summer, and it means the loss for four underused routes.

Edmonton Transit is reporting it’s happy with how it’s getting people home from hockey games and events at the new downtown arena. The big key is that there’s more than one transit station to get people in and out of the area. Obviously there are no accolades for how the Metro Line is figuring into all of this.

Speaking of our LRT system… Edmonton is in line behind Toronto for a major order from Bombardier for our south LRT expansion. We’ll be getting the cars for our new low-floor trains from the transportation company (they are more similar to streetcars than our existing LRT trains). Unfortunately, Toronto is years behind in getting its new streetcars from Bombardier. So, cross your fingers we aren’t waiting well into the next decade for ours.

And, yes, Edmonton signed the deal with Bombardier when Toronto’s woes were well known.


Around the city

Homeless people and members of Edmonton’s vulnerable communities who normally spend time in the arena area are finding themselves pushed out to other parts of downtown.

Edmontown’s downtown office vacancy is high. Really high. And even if a few buildings are converted for residential space, we’re likely going to need to see some other changes to avoid too many empty buildings. This is mostly due to new buildings in the process of being constructed and built in the last few years (Epcor Tower, Edmonton Tower, Kelly Ramsey rebuild, Stantec Tower) and we can’t rule out the recent downturn either. The new buildings mean there’s lots of extra space now, but we don’t know how we’ll be filling it. If you ever wanted to buy an office tower, now is your chance.

Alberta is rolling out a large sexual assault action plan, which aims to help more people who are assaulted to report the crimes, get through recovery and the legal system, and have police and others involved along the way know more about resources they can offer and ways they can be supportive.

If you’re looking for some new art, why not pick some up this weekend and help a family immigrating to Edmonton at the same time.


Public engagement

If you happen to use Belvedere Transit Centre on Saturday, you may run into City staff and consultants who will be asking about a new transit centre.

Ward 11 councillor Mike Nickel is inviting constituents to have a coffee with him on Saturday, 10-11 a.m., at the Blue Chair Cafe.

And the City continues its information sessions on a new public engagement strategy, Saturday 1-4 p.m., at the Meadows Community Recreation Centre.

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