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Urban Development and Proposals Discussion

darwink

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The number 1 thing Stephen Ave needs is to ban traffic 24-7.
Why? Is it an obstacle? We could make the street taxi/rideshare/delivery vehicles only. Plus it would make the mental barrier for extending an impoved streetscape westward that much higher, with parkades and hotels being accessed from 8th.
 

CBBarnett

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Exciting news for Stephen Ave - even if actual development is years away.

What I would love to try: a car-free/car-lite, pedestrian-oriented street East-West or North-South into the Beltline and on a street with much more a residential flavour, it would give the local debate more ammunition of what could/should be in our street designs. I would be stoked for a conversion of a side street on any of the low traffic, high pedestrian roads (15th, 14th, 13th Ave + Centre, 2nd, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 12th Streets) to reflect their current reality, let alone their future one of fewer and fewer cars. There will always be some, sure, but there is no future in which these roads will ever require more car space than they already have. Over 50% of people along these streets report using active modes to get around already and their is no regional argument for capacity that applies on the local roads.

Ideal scenario: 1 east-west pedestrian-only / pedestrian-mostly street (i.e. Stephen Ave) and one north-south pedestrian-only / pedestrian-mostly street connecting to the Beltline where people actually live at density (as opposed to another 3rd Street SW scenario). If it's too radical to take the whole thing of a north-south access, take half: imagine a high-quality 2 lane wide cycle-track, pedestrian priority street along the east side of 5th Street from 17th Ave to Stephen? That would be immensely popular and well used.

A few design considerations any new pedestrian street should have:
  • Signal priority, particularly against car-sewer roads (9th, 10th, 11th, 12th Avenues)
  • Raised crosswalks so no grade change for pedestrians or cyclists from one end to the other at all
  • Trees that survive and are set up for success with better bio-swales and planters
  • Sidewalk travelling areas that are 2 - 4X wider than currently, but consistent for the full length
  • Benches
 

Mountain Man

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Why? Is it an obstacle? We could make the street taxi/rideshare/delivery vehicles only. Plus it would make the mental barrier for extending an impoved streetscape westward that much higher, with parkades and hotels being accessed from 8th.
It's not an obstacle, it just takes away from the potential of the street in my opinion. Any improvement they are going to do will be minor unless there can be permanent changes in the street area (art installations, a fountain for summertime, things like that...). The downside to banning cars is for people trying to find parking, the one ways and traffic ban on 7th mean large circles to get back to where you were.
 

ByeByeBaby

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Why? Is it an obstacle? We could make the street taxi/rideshare/delivery vehicles only. Plus it would make the mental barrier for extending an impoved streetscape westward that much higher, with parkades and hotels being accessed from 8th.
It's a massive obstacle.

For one thing, it makes any large-scale improvements (benches, fountains, planters, picnic tables,...) impossible because the entire middle of the street needs to be open and clear. It also makes temporary installations impractical -- beakerhead is a great example -- because everything needs to be cleared by 6 PM. During the busiest hour of Beakerhead, people are starting to take down anything that might be in the vehicle right-of-way. So it's an obstacle to all kinds of activity.

I roughly measured a cross-section (by The Unicorn) yesterday. To my (approximate) count, Stephen Ave was 62 feet wide. The road lane is 14 feet wide and the parking lane 10 feet. So that's 24/62 = 38% of the gross space. But that's a huge understatement. The first thing is that there is a substantial "furniture zone" on either side of the roadway that is filled with light posts, benches, garbage cans and the like. It's important stuff, but basically makes about 3 feet on either side of the road useless for walking down the street. Then there are the patios (and pseudo-patios like Earl's extension). The Unicorn's patio is 12 feet wide. Patios are great, and they contribute to the feel of Stephen Avenue, and I'd increase rather than decrease them. But on a section with two twelve foot patios and the three foot furniture strip on either side of the roadway, there's only 32 feet left. When the road is open, it takes 24/32 = 75% of the useful space. And the remaining space is a narrow 4 foot strip, which is too narrow for wider pedestrians to pass each other (e.g. strollers, a couple holding hands, a wheelchair user).

And the vehicle traffic is already mostly taxi/TNC already, which is silly when there's a taxi stand basically on every single cross-street. (If I were in charge, I'd add taxi stands in the parking on the east side of 3rd St and in part of the Glenbow loading dock just to make every cross street have taxi coverage.) We're blocking 3/4 of the useful width of the street so that people don't have to walk less than half a block to get their cab or ride (and to park less than 20 cars per block). Vehicle traffic is a huge obstacle.
 

Mull

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Does anyone know how to filter on the Calgary Development Map to see all active ("i.e. not approved or refused") permits? I think it used to be like this but when they updated the site, it defaults to all histroical permits, or, you can select only one option from the filter list. i.e. right now it appears to be showing 1 or all
 

JonnyCanuck

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It's not an obstacle, it just takes away from the potential of the street in my opinion. Any improvement they are going to do will be minor unless there can be permanent changes in the street area (art installations, a fountain for summertime, things like that...). The downside to banning cars is for people trying to find parking, the one ways and traffic ban on 7th mean large circles to get back to where you were.
I agree. As long as vehicular traffic/parking is allowed, there is limited potential. The core of 8th Ave is from Macleod Trail to 3 St SW. I would like to see that section be pedestrian only. It is now during the day, Mon-Fri, and sometimes on weekends. Why not make it permanent? That would free up considerable space to really be imaginative.
 

darwink

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I agree. As long as vehicular traffic/parking is allowed, there is limited potential. The core of 8th Ave is from Macleod Trail to 3 St SW. I would like to see that section be pedestrian only. It is now during the day, Mon-Fri, and sometimes on weekends. Why not make it permanent? That would free up considerable space to really be imaginative.
I am worried that would kill it retail wise - the illusion of parking being available is a powerful thing. Don't want to turn it into a fancy Sparks Street.
 

Cowtown

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As one of the people here old enough to remember the days when there were no cars, I prefer the way it is now. The problem in the past was after hours, Stephen Ave was a dead zone. The cars after hours keep the restaurants and thus the mall, active.
 

JonnyCanuck

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There is all kinds of indoor parking 360 degrees around that section of 8th Ave. If it is to become an even more popular destination than it is, people will find parking if they need to. It is not necessary to park on the street right in front of bars and stores to bring people into the core.
I would also argue that over the years, the foot traffic on 8th Ave has increased significantly because of more people living in the core, particularly the Beltline and East Village. This will only increase as more condos and apartment buildings go up in the vicinity. It is the foot traffic that you want to attract with frequency not the couple who drives from their home in ie. Brentwood to downtown, once or twice a year. You are not going to discourage them just because you can't park on 8th Ave any longer.
 

Surrealplaces

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An easy way to trial the situation would be to put up the vehicle gates barring access and leave it for a period of time. Maybe three months? I would like to see it more catered to pedestrians, but I also remember the old Stephen Ave before cars were allowed. The cars were needed to give Stephen Ave a jump start after hours. Is it still needed? Close access to cars for awhile and see the results I guess.
 

Silence&Motion

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I'm fine with the way it is now. There's just not enough pedestrian volume outside the 9-5 to justify closing down the entire street to vehicles.

We usually treat pedestrianization as a strategy for attracting pedestrians which almost always fails. If pedestrians have no reason to walk down a street, they're not going to start walking down it if cars are removed.

The alternative approach is to respond to existing pedestrian volume, reducing vehicular traffic as necessary. For example, I'd be way more in favor of removing vehicle lanes along 17th ave or 8th street because the sidewalks are too small to accommodate the existing foot traffic.
 
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