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*Posting here for posterity, originally posted in the Urban Development chat*

The sidewalks are pretty rough shape for large portion as the temporary fills have slumped and the parts that haven't been touched yet are 6 years worse for wear with missing bricks etc. It's makes no sense to drag this out further. Pave them already!

Apologies - this triggered a rant:
In my opinion - this whole 17th Ave project is a perfect case study on urban priorities, and how Calgary gets it wrong for pedestrians, especially when making trade-offs. IIRC, the source of 17 Ave public realm woes was that the whole 17th Ave project was first dreamed up from a utility requirement to update the old pipe network, and only had the public realm and transportation elements bolted on after public awareness raised concerns to what was happening. 95% of the money, and 95% of the priority went beneath the ground. It shows.

Further, the stuff added above the ground offers marginal benefit/or is actually a detriment to pedestrians (apart from new pavement which is endlessly delayed). This is why the newer Main Streets are light-years better for public realm than this 17 Ave project - the approach is clearly from the user of the street perspective, not driven bluntly by inflexible utility needs that some how failed to talk to anyone who walks during the engagement work.

Here's the examples of all the things the 17 Ave "improvements" did on just one small, but critically important, intersection at 8 Street and 17th Ave. This intersection has one of the highest traffic pedestrian volumes in the city:
  1. A random new signal control box taking up sidewalk space right where it's at it's narrowest already. No idea why it's needed (see point 5).
  2. New pointless, decorative poles cluttering the intersection, again taking up sidewalk space in an congested sidewalk area. Curious on how this many poles impact safety and visibility of pedestrians for drivers considered how many crossings are made here daily. How did these make it into the design priority but the sidewalk width didn't?
  3. Weird, non-standard cut into the curb to allow for a sewer grate to create tripping hazard right at the intersection and takes up yet more space in the narrowest sidewalk section. There's no alignment rationale of the pipes on why this would exist here (we literally ripped up the road to move the pipes) + you could easily do the standard design with a flush curb if you tried.
  4. Unpaved dirt patch that will be resolved during completion in 2023 (hopefully!)
  5. Yet more signal control boxes - since this picture, a *third* giant signal control box was added in Tompkins part for that wonky 16th Ave & 8th Street signal project (which has questionable value but that is another story).
2021 / 2022:
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Here's the 2012 pre-upgrade version - flush curb, fewer and smaller control boxes, no random poles:
1648051725411.png



On signal control box madness - I added my own photo for a close up recently, as I can't for the life of me contemplate the thought process behind these things. Here's the close up of our curious signal box fetish at Tompkins Park - quite a view we created for those benches on an otherwise great urban corner. Camera height is about 6 feet so you can gauge the size:
IMG_0265.jpg


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My questions about signal control boxes here:
  1. why they are needed at all with all our modern tech of 2022
  2. why you need now 4 of them within 20m of each other
  3. why they are so big and getting bigger (see #1 and the 2012 picture)
  4. why must they be placed directly in the pedestrian path of the busiest intersection on 17th Avenue.
I totally get the challenge of competing project priorities, but surely the pedestrians should have more wins than this on a street this important? I mean come on - these boxes aren't even the same size or in a straight line! We literally just plopped them down randomly, almost as if we wanted to make pedestrians go around. Perhaps I have more OCD than a roads engineer, but this is an absolutely ridiculous way to treat our "main" Main Street lol !
 
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^ Emblamatic of the city's view of urban areas as revenue cows, not places to invest proportionally to the number of residents or businesses. Also, roads obviously didn't bring a CPTED lens to the installation of a large barrier next to a park which at times has supported social disorder.

We should just spend more money to put them all in a vault.
 
Looks like Google Maps were updated until May 2022, and now have an example of what to do for public realm improvements - Bowness Road in Montgomery:

2007 - pre-redevelopment. Old, wide, empty road with nothing "sticky" to keep pedestrians or people there. Ugly, empty - and of course - narrow sidewalks:
1657824867121.png


2019 - Redevelopment has occurred a few years previously with that Notables restuarant and apartment building above. Road still sucks, but sidewalk spot-improvement in front of the development:
1657824961903.png


2022 - More redevelopment, but most importantly - the streetscape had a complete redo via that Main Streets program.
1657825069466.png

A few huge wins:
  • Dramatically Narrower right-of-way to reduce vehicle speeds. Half the street parking still remains and the same number of travel lanes. Corners are way tighter to reduce high-speed turns and safety issues.
  • Added a separated cycling lane for the length of the corridor (~2km)
    • These go from Shouldice Park all the way to 16 Ave which is an absolutely massive upgrade. I find these raised lanes aren't always ideal and can sometimes be awkward at corners with weird ramps/zig-zags; but definitely not complaining - design is 100x safer/better for such a long stretch of the corridor and delivered all at once - enormous improvement. I'll try not to make a200x better design the enemy of a 100x better design :)
  • Mid-block crossing (!) installed between the two retail areas
    • Total game-changer and should be far more prevalent than they are in Calgary. Allows pedestrian trips to be short, ultra efficient and safe with a generous road-width tightening and an additional bump out
    • It's a design that imagines someone is walking - a complete treat for Calgary's typical streets
  • Street trees, benches and other furniture
  • Generous sidewalk width that isn't overcluttered with control boxes, duplicative poles and random other garbage we don't need on a walking street.

Is there areas of the design to nit-pick? Probably. But overall this is exactly how to do it. Reallocate woefully over-supplied vehicle right-of-way to sidewalks, pathway and patio spaces. Tighten everything up so it feels safer and reduces vehicle speeds (adding further benefit to the streets as it's not as noisy and unpleasant to walk on).

Montgomery now actually has a real walkable main street, from essentially a forgotten car sewer 2 decades ago. A few more decades of infills and development to boost the local population and activity, and the street is right up there with the best this city has to offer for walkable main streets. More of this please!
 
I would love for the city to continue that mainstreet design west along Bowness Road all the way to Bowness Park. The painted bike lanes there really don't offer much for safety and the Bow River MUP requires a few large hill climbs which reduces the number of cyclists willing to commute on it. My biggest nitpick with the Montgomery design is that the south end just deadends at 16th Ave. If they extended the bike paths a few hundred metres to the south to connect with the Bow River MUP it would be perfect but instead everything just ends.
 
2022 - More redevelopment, but most importantly - the streetscape had a complete redo via that Main Streets program.
View attachment 413810

Is there areas of the design to nit-pick? Probably. But overall this is exactly how to do it. Reallocate woefully over-supplied vehicle right-of-way to sidewalks, pathway and patio spaces. Tighten everything up so it feels safer and reduces vehicle speeds (adding further benefit to the streets as it's not as noisy and unpleasant to walk on).
I will nit-pick the choice of deciding to put in a single standard cobra-head streetlight when the rest of them are nice decorative lights.

Other than that, great project!
 
I would love for the city to continue that mainstreet design west along Bowness Road all the way to Bowness Park. The painted bike lanes there really don't offer much for safety and the Bow River MUP requires a few large hill climbs which reduces the number of cyclists willing to commute on it. My biggest nitpick with the Montgomery design is that the south end just deadends at 16th Ave. If they extended the bike paths a few hundred metres to the south to connect with the Bow River MUP it would be perfect but instead everything just ends.
That pathway extension to connect to the Bow River at Edworthy is underway now!
 
I would love for the city to continue that mainstreet design west along Bowness Road all the way to Bowness Park. The painted bike lanes there really don't offer much for safety and the Bow River MUP requires a few large hill climbs which reduces the number of cyclists willing to commute on it. My biggest nitpick with the Montgomery design is that the south end just deadends at 16th Ave. If they extended the bike paths a few hundred metres to the south to connect with the Bow River MUP it would be perfect but instead everything just ends.
The City added a traffic light on 16th and 43St to allow cyclists to connect to the river pathway system. There's no bike lane on that street, but it's fairly quiet and riding on the road is not an issue.
 
It's possible to look back at streetview images, is there a way to see the old satellite views as well?
These are all Bowness Road from 46th St NW (left) to 44th St NW.

1962:
1658184905085.png



1982:
1658184631415.png


2002:
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2020:
1658185167973.png


2021 - this is before the road markings are painted:
1658185254955.png


The land use that was developed in the 1950s was pretty unchanged for 70 years. These decisions matter!
 

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8 Street SW update posted to revisit the 2016 master plan and improve it - https://engage.calgary.ca/8StreetSW

Lots of content in the link, but this picture provides to overall vibe.

1685559330836.png

There's a few sections that are still a bit wonky - 17th Avenue & Tompkins Park interface for example - but otherwise is a really good improvement from a remarkably car-oriented 2016 plan.
 

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