News / Calgary

Temporary sidewalks part of Calgary's effort to help pedestrians

Calgary's pedestrian strategy is now one-and-a-half years old and helping the city make strides toward a safer, more walkable community

Greg Hart with Vision Zero Calgary checks out one of the City of Calgary's latest pedestrian strategy pilots. The so-called adaptive sidewalks are meant as an in-between measure to take back space for walkers before a permanent sidewalk goes in.

Helen Pike / Metro

Greg Hart with Vision Zero Calgary checks out one of the City of Calgary's latest pedestrian strategy pilots. The so-called adaptive sidewalks are meant as an in-between measure to take back space for walkers before a permanent sidewalk goes in.

You may have heard of pop-up bike lanes, but a new city initiative is taking things one step further and using metal dividers to create temporary sidewalks in areas that badly need them.

The city calls them adaptive sidewalks. Workers installed barriers, identical to the ones used for the cycle track, in Griffith Woods and 77 Street and 26 Avenue SW this fall, and are already eyeing three or four more spots.

Jonathan Chapman, programs coordinator with the city's livable streets division, says the city is trying them in areas that lack sidewalks but where desire lines, or trails in the grass or snow, indicate people are walking through anyway.

"We reclaim some of the road surface and put down a new curb ... now that space is safe for (pedestrians) to walk on, rather than walking on grass or walking on a slope,” he said.

In some cases a sidewalk has been planned but just hasn’t been built yet. In other situations, the area just wasn’t planned that way, Chapman said.

Greg Hart, with Vision Zero Calgary, got a first glance at the pilot in Griffith Woods Thursday. A new sidewalk has been created next to a wide road just across from a new school.

"It’s great that they’re reclaiming space, especially on a road that’s as generously proportioned as this one," he said. "It’s quite a bit wider than a conventional sidewalk."

Looking up and down the pathway he noted it might be a good multi-use path and a welcome space for avid walkers. Hart thinks the city can use the barriers not just to mark future sidewalks, but to test out adding walkable space to roadways.

"There are lots of places in the city where there are fairly high volumes of traffic on quite wide road allowances,” he said.

But he points out the city could use adaptive sidewalks to test whether they attract more pedestrians, but also whether there is an effect on traffic.

Chapman said the pilot, which they will continue to evaluate, will provide answers on how to use the adaptive sidewalk tool, what conditions are appropriate and how much the measure costs.

"It's cheap to put down, but we want to understand the life of that temporary measure before we start putting them everywhere," Chapman said.

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