August 29, 2014 7:00 pm
Updated: August 29, 2014 9:16 pm

Whyte Avenue memorial honours life of cyclist, while urging people to share the road


Watch above: A temporary memorial was set up for Isaak Kornelsen, who was killed two years ago while cycling on Whyte Avenue. Kendra Slugoski has the story.

EDMONTON – Family and friends of a local cyclist who died two years ago came together Friday to honour him in a unique way.

A parklet was set up on Whyte Avenue, in the area where Isaak Kornelsen, a 21-year-old University of Alberta student, was killed after falling beneath a moving cement truck in August 2012.

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READ MORE: Cyclist killed instantly in crash on Whyte Ave.

The one-day pop-up public memorial was set up over two parking stalls to add seating and pedestrian-friendly space to the urban area. It’s designed to give people a place to remember and celebrate Kornelsen’s life.

“It seemed a really good fit to do something meaningful,” said Jonathan Behnke, the landscape architecture student who designed the parklet.

“Every part of the design is meant to symbolize a different part of Isaak,” he said. “Yellow was Isaak’s favourite colour, the blue surface with the white lanes are like the running track at Foote Field where Isaak spent a lot of time training.”

Philip Mees, a cyclist who has lived in the Whyte Avenue area for 20 years, didn’t know Kornelsen, but wanted to stop by to see the memorial in person.

“I think it’s a terrific idea. I’d love to see some of these along Whyte Avenue permanently,” he said.

“It’s nice to have just a little Oasis set up here at least for a day.”

While a nice space to sit and remember Kornelsen, the parklet is also meant to bring awareness to the importance of sharing the road.

“There’s a bit of an imbalance there between the cars and pedestrians and cyclists. So with the parklet, we’re hoping that Edmontonians will think a bit more about how they share the road,” Behnke explained.

Some who work in the area say they’ve seen the traffic volume continually increase over the years, and it’s becoming more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians.

“Right now, this is a major thoroughfare east and west. That’s not going to change until CP Rail moves out and we can look at other avenues like 76th and 79th, so that’s a ways down the road,” said Murray Davison, executive director of the Old Strathcona Business Association.

Davison says a recent survey showed that, of those who frequent the Ave., only 38 per cent drive to the area – the rest walk, cycle or take public transportation.

“We’ve got to find a way that we can both coexist.”

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

Behnke hopes the parklet will inspire area businesses and the City of Edmonton to create more pedestrian-friendly spaces in the area.

“I think Whyte Ave. is just one of those streets that should naturally evolve into a more pedestrian-friendly street with less big trucks on it, just because it’s seen as a transportation route when really, this is a neighbourhood.”

The parklet will be set up on Whyte Avenue at 101 Street until 7 p.m. Friday.

With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News.

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