August 20, 2014 5:17 pm

Should Whyte Avenue become car-free? The city is looking into it

WATCH ABOVE: The city is looking at ways to make Whyte Avenue safer for pedestrians. One of the ideas being tested out this fall is to make the popular strip ‘car-free’ on Friday and Saturday nights. Caley Ramsay explains. 

EDMONTON – As one of the busiest entertainment districts in Edmonton, Whyte Avenue sees thousands of visitors on a daily basis.

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As a result, the City of Edmonton is hoping to make it a bit more pedestrian friendly, by making a portion of the popular avenue car-free on some of the busiest pedestrian nights of the year.

The Car Free Whyte Avenue pilot program would shut down a section of the avenue to private vehicles between midnight and 2:30 a.m., allowing pedestrians to walk on the street for a few hours to help eliminate sidewalk crowding.

“Late night safety is extremely important,” said Angela Turner, program manager with Responsible Hospitality Edmonton. “Shutting down parts of Whyte Ave. will promote safety, eliminate traffic concerns and increase pedestrian space on sidewalks.”

The city says when post-secondary students return to school or major civic celebrations are possibilities for times when Whyte Avenue would go car-free.

After seeing success in other cities, such a Vancouver, Mayor Don Iveson says it’s time to see what Edmontonians think of the idea.

“Whyte Ave. is a major thoroughfare too, though, and a major transit route. So, I don’t have a lot of specifics on this at this point, but it will be interesting to see what people think,” said Iveson.

“It’ll have positive and negative impacts for businesses and users and we want to fully understand that before making any kind of final decision.”

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Whyte Ave named one of best streets in Canada

While east-to-west traffic on Whyte Avenue would be closed, there would still be access for emergency vehicles and ETS buses.

Taxi stands would be set up outside the road closure, according to the city.

To have your say on the proposed pilot program, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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