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St. Albert continues move toward 'complete' streets for all users

City still working on wider sidewalks, bike lanes, to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.
2807 complete streets sup CC
Here is an example of protected bicycle lanes in Edmonton, as shown in St. Albert's complete streets guidelines. Protected bicycle lanes provide uni-directional or bi-directional on-street space for cyclists, separated from vehicle or parking lanes with a protected median. CITY OF ST. ALBERT/Photo

Three years after formally adopting a high-level guide, St. Albert is still making progress toward ensuring its roads can accommodate pedestrians and cyclists as much as motorized vehicles, says Dean Schick, the city's transportation manager. 

Adopted in 2018, the Complete Streets Guidelines and Implementation Strategy outlines action items and best practices for making St. Albert's road network fit for all users. Some of these best practices include concepts such as wider sidewalks and protected bike lanes. 

"As the city considers new arterial roadways like Fowler Way or widening projects like north St. Albert Trail and Ray Gibbon Drive, we've integrated those complete streets concepts into the planning and delivery of improvements," Schick said. 

Where new infrastructure provides a blank slate for meeting the guidelines, Schick said retrofitting certain areas might require some flexibility, for example if an existing road is narrow or a substantial tree line exists. 

"In those situations, the philosophical approach of accommodating all road users is still carried forward, but it may be a case where what would be a 2.2-metre sidewalk has to be narrower because of site-specific constraints," Schick said. 

In what Schick described as "unfortunate" situations, the site might necessitate a monolithic sidewalk: one directly adjacent to the roadway without separation by landscaping or a boulevard.

"The intent and the objective would still be there, but it's about looking at what site constraints exist, and what can be delivered in regards to a safe, effective, and efficient infrastructure investment," Schick said. 

Retrofitting in Campbell and Riel industrial parks has already begun. In Riel industrial park, a segment of sidewalk from Sir Winston Churchill Avenue that leads to a transit stop just west of the avenue is already completed.

"Riel is a great example of an area that may not be physically able to actually accommodate the full cross section of the complete streets, but the effort and emphasis is to accommodate and provide that connectivity for pedestrians and those active modes (like cycling and running)," Schick said. 

The city has identified an extensive list of areas for improvement in their Active Transportation Gaps Assessment, and according to Schick, resident feedback can play a role in what the city tackles first. 

"We heard from residents there is a desire to have active mode sidewalks in Riel and Campbell industrial parks, and that's great," Schick said. "Hearing from residents and from road users which areas are critical for their daily recreational or community needs helps the city prioritize."

About the Author: Rachel Narvey

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