Case Study: Stephen Avenue growing beyond a pedestrian mall
Downtown revitalization is happening across North America and pedestrian malls like Minneapolis’s Nicollet Mall and Calgary’s Stephen Avenue at the heart of the city are often a first step in the process. In Calgary, restaurants, shops, busking musicians, events and street fairs make Stephen Avenue a lively place, attracting 5,000 to 10,000 people an hour at peak times. When Calgary’s City Centre Cycle Track Pilot Project opens in July 2015, Stephen Avenue will form an important connection. Although the network will mostly consist of cycle tracks, separation is not the right solution on Stephen Avenue.
Stephen Avenue functions as a pedestrian mall beginning at 6 a.m. and then at 6 p.m. opens up again to motorized traffic. The aim is to add cyclists into the mix with pedestrians and motorists in a way that makes separation unnecessary and preserves the sense of place. In fact, Stephen Avenue like most streets built before cars, has a multimodal past. Recent traffic engineering experiments in the Netherlands have opened up pedestrian zones to cyclists. In order to develop the right design for Stephen Avenue, Mobycon recently presented a series of workshops with Canadian partners Stantec and Context Research Ltd. of Vancouver.
A Canadian Solution
Workshop participants included local business owners, residents, advocates and community stakeholders. Examples from other places that have built successful mixed-use roads were presented. A common language was introduced to help participants begin thinking about how flow of traffic and quality of place can be united.
As local experts, participants were asked to share their ideas about the opportunities inherent in Stephen Avenue. The workshops also provided valuable insight into the concerns of the participants, including uncertainty about speed of cyclists and potential for conflict with pedestrians. At the same time, participants also saw the opportunity to enhance street quality through adding more points of attraction, improving criss-cross movement along the street and upgrading the public space overall. Emphasising place through these types of improvements can communicate Stephen Avenue is more than a traffic space and encourage slow movement and positive cyclist behaviour.
In the coming months, Mobycon and Stantec will be working these conditions into a design, which deals with safety issues on the street while also improving the quality of the public space.
For more information about Mobycon’s custom design workshops or our approach to partnership in international consulting, contact Elizabeth Allingham in Canada, Mary Hudson Embry in the United States or Johan Diepens, if you reside in any other country.