The sidewalks along Whyte Avenue are narrow and present a challenge in terms of balancing the features that make for an interesting social space and walkability, It is one of two areas in the city which prohibit not only bicycles but also skateboards and rollerblades on the sidewalk.
Old Strathcona has two types of benches, a wrought iron and oak slat bench appropriate to the heritage nature of the area and placed by Transportation or Parks depending on location. The second style is an advertising bench which is placed at bus stops through out the city.
Bench placement has presented some challenges relative to loitering and either directly impacting the clientele of an adjacent business or creating an unpleasant ambience on the street. Numerous benches have been removed which is counterproductive to creation of a Sociable City.
Currently discussions are being held on replacement of benches with a seating unit that fits architecturally with the area, is highly durable, can be placed in conversation conducive arrangements yet discourages lounging and sleeping.
Old Strathcona is an area that attracts many bicyclists. Due to the high vehicle traffic and narrow sidewalks both cycling and parking present challenges. Bicycle racks replacement started in 2008 and is ongoing. See www.edmonton.ca/bikeplan
EXTENDED LOBBIES/SIDEWALK CAFES
Extended lobbies and sidewalk cafes are permitted through Transportation Right of Way.
In 2008 the newspaper boxes were overtaking the core area of Old Strathcona creating problems spacially as well as being tipped over or vandalized on weekends late night. Transportation Right of Way met with the Newspaper vendors to work out an equitable andatreet appropriate number of boxes per site and number of sites. U-bars are being installed on the sidewalk to delineate sites and provide increased security for the boxes.
On street signage is restricted to sandwich boards of particular dimensions as outlined in an Old Strathcona specific by-law. Placement and numbers can present challenges to comfortable pedestrian walkabiity.
2007, street lights were placed in the alleys on the north and south side of Whyte Avenue as these were high pedestrian areas as patrons move into the core from the various parking areas. In some areas, the poles could not have any further attachments due to code and alternatives are being explored.
In 2008, as a trial anti-crime measure, there was suggestion that one establishment which was central to disreputable behaviour be spot-lighted. Analysis of the situation revealed the entire block was poorly lit and a major pedestrian route. Street lights were enhanced from 75 to 150 watts resulting in a significant increase in the perception of safety and actual safety (increased visibility for and of pedestrians on the sidewalk). As a bonus there was a significant increase of lighting into the adjacent parking lot, increasing patron safety as they approach their cars and a decrease in car vandalism.
There are several intersections that require an increase in lighting or roadway markings and these are currently under assessment.
The ambient lighting of the decorative streetlights along Whyte Avenue between 103 St and 105 St is operating at a compromised level due to the age of the fixtures. This is partially offset by the decorative lights on the boulevard trees. Improvements to both of these lighting situations is currently being investigated.
At several locations along Whyte Avenue the telephone booths were determined by adjacent businesses or EPS to be sites for coordination of drug deals. To balance the needs for late night safety and reduce criminal behaviors several phones have been changed to 911 only after 9 pm. This appears to have been effective.