MPI, police target intersection collisions
THE Winnipeg Police Service is cracking down on speeders at high-collision
intersections as part of a new Manitoba Public Insurance initiative.
The intersection enforcement program will focus on speed, adherence to
traffic signals and ensuring cars clear intersections before a traffic
light changes. MPI said the program recently launched and will continue
until late fall, with a goal to reduce road injuries and fatalities.
“Many of these intersection collisions could have been prevented if the
drivers adjusted their speed and adhered to the on-site traffic signals,”
Satvir Jatana, MPI chief customer officer, said in a news release Monday.
“While entering an intersection, the combination of speed and not adhering
to a traffic signal, like a traffic light, is potentially fatal.”
The release notes the 10 intersections that recorded the most collisions in
Winnipeg between 2016 and 2020. These include Kenaston and McGillivray
boulevards (1,217 collisions), Leila Avenue and McPhillips Street (1,179)
and Lagimodiere Boulevard and Regent Avenue West (978).
MPI is providing funding for the enforcement, which will also be carried
out by Brandon police and the RCMP, in an attempt to reduce the roughly
30,000 intersection collisions that take place in the province every year.
*Designing pedestrian promenade*
AS we emerge from a global pandemic and move into the headwinds of a global
climate crisis, change has become the only certainty for the world’s
cities. Civic leadership that embraces bold ideas to overcome these
evolving challenges, specifically in highly impacted downtown areas, will
find the most success in the future.
Unveiled last year, but somewhat lost in the headlines of the pandemic, the
new Winnipeg Transit Master Plan presents the city with an opportunity to
lead this urban evolution. By marrying transit planning with creative urban
design, we can leverage transit investment to create generational change in
There are three important downtown placemaking opportunities identified in
the new plan. Major rapid transit stations will be built at Portage and
Main and in old Union Station, establishing two significant nodes of
activity. These can be leveraged through creative planning to create a
gravity that attracts retail, housing and cultural amenities to support new
and existing downtown residential neighbourhoods.
A third impactful move, the closing of the Graham Avenue Transit Mall, will
create a kilometre-long opportunity to dream. With buses gone, and cars
having been removed 30 years ago, Graham Avenue will become a blank slate
upon which we can draw our vision for the future.
Graham Avenue has the scale and diversity to become a special public space
in downtown. Some blocks have green space and little old buildings that
support sidewalk retail like bookstores, coffee shops and convenience
stores. Others have large developments like the Millennium Library, Manitoba
Hydro Place, Canada Life Centre, True North Square and the city’s tallest
building at 300 Main. The Hudson’s Bay Co. building and the large parking
lots at the eastern end represent key opportunities for impactful new
development. When current construction is complete there will be almost
1,000 new homes adjacent to Graham Avenue, with 280 new hotel rooms, two
new office towers, a food hall, restaurants and commercial space. With bold
investment and a strong vision, we can build on this momentum and create a
unified, pedestrian-focused public space that redefines the image of
There are inspiring examples of streets that have been transformed into
linear parks, shared streets, and pedestrian promenades in cities across
the world. If we look closer to home, Stephen Avenue Mall in Calgary is a
pedestrian street that might be an informative precedent. Once the city’s
main street, Stephen Avenue was closed to vehicles in 1973, and after many
difficult years it is now downtown’s most active public space, lined with
shops and restaurants in a concentration that creates an important critical
mass of activity, even in today’s struggling downtown.
The City of Calgary recently hired Gehl, a world-renowned urban design firm
from Denmark, to create a vision for the future of Stephen Avenue. Gehl
approaches urban design through the lens of public life, creating public
spaces that support social interaction between people. The plan recommends
the following six strategic moves to guide Stephen Avenue to a successful
future, principles that could provide an important insight for any
transformation of Winnipeg’s Graham Avenue.
*Branding the Avenue*: Invest in a permanent redesign of the physical
street with a cohesive palette and unified visual identity, including
pavers, trees, colourful and flexible seating, wayfinding and lighting.
*Connecting the Avenue*: Build pedestrian priority intersections with
raised crosswalks. Make strong connections to public transit and bike
expand access throughout downtown. Connect skywalks (like the one that runs
the length of Graham) directly to the sidewalk at several convenient and
highly visible locations, pulling skywalk activity to street level. Calm
vehicle traffic in other areas of downtown, including returning one-way
streets back to two-way. Investigate other mobility options like
bike-sharing, scooters or even a streetcar.
*Activating the Avenue*: Use public art, festivals and concert programming
to attract people to the space in all seasons and at all times of the day.
Design for comfortable microclimates including winter heaters for patios,
windbreaks and canopies for rain protection.
*Opening on to the Avenue*: Open the ground floor of buildings with long
blank walls facing the sidewalk (like Cityplace and Canada Life Centre) and
construct new active storefronts. Create incentives to attract artists and
entrepreneurs to vacant spaces and use pop-up retail such as food trucks,
farmer’s markets and shipping container shops to temporarily activate
surface parking lots.
*Repositioning the Avenue*: Create incentives for affordable housing,
infill development and the repurposing of vacant office space (like the old
Post Office tower) into new uses. Focus on attracting local shops that
support an urban neighbourhood and provide amenities for downtown living.
*Governing the Avenue*: Empower a central entity like the Downtown BIZ to
be stewards of the place, including the use of street ambassadors to
Redefining Graham Avenue inspired by these principles is an opportunity to
dream, a chance to boldly create a new sense of place in downtown. A linear
park, a pedestrian promenade, a shared street — it is easy to imagine
Graham Avenue as an attractive place for people. We can learn from other
cities, including our neighbours in Calgary who are proactively planning to
ensure they are prepared for the new urban reality. The measure of a city’s
success in the future will not be in the number of office towers found in
its skyline, it will instead be in the number of vibrant public spaces
found between its buildings.
*Brent Bellamy is senior design architect for Number Ten Architectural
The City of Selkirk, Man., is unveiling an ambitious plan to link the
entire city via active transportation pathways.
Mayor Larry Johannson says the ultimate goal is to eventually have every
resident within two sidewalk blocks of one of the pathways.
“What this does in our community is it takes a lot of the stress off the
streets, so the streets last longer, it’s better for the environment,
absolutely, and a key one is it’s better for people for their health,” says
The project will take until at least 2025, but the Active Transportation
(AT) Strategy, which city council just approved, will help design and
manage the infrastructure well into the future.
n addition to the health and cost benefits, Johannson says the city wants
to do its part to become more environmentally friendly.
“We don’t want to talk the talk, we want to walk the walk. So we’re a small
community, but you know what? We’re going to do our share, and active
transportation pathways are a huge part of it,” Johannson says.
Selkirk already has 2.5 kilometers of active transportation pathways that
take the form of bike lanes, multi-use pathways and recreational pathways,
along with 56 km of sidewalk.
The city plans to add about 3.6 km of new AT pathways beginning next year.
In a press release, CAO Duane Nicol says the pathways will end up paying
for themselves and then some.
“Study after study shows that active transportation saves significant
dollars primarily in health care and transportation. It also allows people
to save on household expenses related to vehicle ownership,” Nicol said.
“Moreover, it increases the physical and socio-economic accessibility of
In addition to linking each area of the city with the other, Johannson says
the project will feature an AT pathway parallel to Main Street, so people
can walk, jog or bike the entire width of the city.
Preliminary data compiled by the National Safety Council show that 42,000
people died in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2020, an increase of
24% over the previous year. Pedestrian fatality rates, meanwhile, jumped
21% — the highest increase since 1975 – despite the fact that vehicle miles
traveled dropped 13% due to the pandemic.
To counter this untenable state of affairs, an increasing number of
communities nationwide are turning to a Vision Zero strategy, one that aims
to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing
safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.
While many of the tactics that comprise Vision Zero are well known – from
decreasing the legal speed limit to installing traffic calming measures
(speed bumps, roundabouts, etc.) to improving roadway lighting and
pedestrian crossings – the technological advances and data-driven analytics
at the heart of those tactics’ effectiveness are often overlooked.
Full story here:
** * * * **
*Takeaways for More Equitable Engagement and Implementation of
Planners from these four cities were interviewed about the approaches taken
to quickly create infrastructure that better supported the needs of
pedestrians, cyclists, and local businesses during the height of the
pandemic. In most cases, traditional community engagement methods were
bypassed in an effort to act quickly on project implementation; this
created issues with equity of the interventions for communities that are
Overall, the interviewees acknowledged the importance of community
engagement but felt they did their best in the time-constrained situation
they were in with pressure to act fast; takeaways and reflections from
these initial projects and programs illuminate how critical it is to center
social equity into decision-making for projects that prioritize active
- *Bypassing traditional community engagement drew criticism and
prompted more equitable strategies. *None of the four cities did a
standard community engagement process due to the desire to act quickly.
However, some used existing plans; others relied on elected officials’
views as proxies for community engagement. This led to criticisms about how
this affected historically underserved populations, particularly Black and
indigenous communities and those populated by and people of color (BIPOC).
In Chapel Hill, no specific community engagement was conducted for the
Franklin Street space reallocation since town staff felt as though a
previous, similar engagement process for a permanent restriping of the
road, the community petition, town council’s approval, and continuously
checking in with business owners was sufficient. There were criticisms of
the transformation in a local paper about a lack of Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility due to some businesses using the
sidewalk; however, town staff felt that they had considered these
limitations and had to balance accessibility and local restaurant survival.
In D.C., the restaurants that were part of a BID or Main Street program,
generally located in more affluent areas of the city, were at an advantage
in this program. In addition, there was also a need for these restaurants’
surrounding physical environment to fit certain constraints, such as wider
sidewalks. Anacostia, a historically Black neighborhood, has streets that
were not redeveloped like the rest of the city’s streets due to a long
history of disinvestment by the D.C. government
which made streateries more challenging to implement there. The city
is now focused
expand the opportunities for streateries in neighborhoods east of the
The city of Halifax did not conduct additional community engagement for the
Slow Streets program, feeling that the prior engagement efforts were
sufficient, and the temporary nature of the program would allow the city to
adapt based on public reactions. However, members of the staff did know
that they needed to speak with marginalized communities before implementing
Slow Streets in their neighborhood. This conversation led to the
implementation in one African-Nova Scotian neighborhood, where there was an
existing relationship with the city and virtual engagement was successful.
Conversely, this did not work in a different African-Nova Scotian
neighborhood that lacked this existing relationship and efforts to build
trust virtually failed. Later, the city collected feedback from the public
and local organizations for a second rollout and adapted the program to
better meet the needs of residents. An interim report from the program
recommended making equitable distribution a main focus of future
interventions, particularly areas that rely on nonvehicular modes of travel
most. Now, the city is focusing on establishing relationships with Nova
Scotian communities of color and is planning a Slow Streets program focused
specifically on communities that rely on transit, biking, and walking.
In Oakland, the initial Slow Streets program faced intense pushback. After
hearing the swift, negative reaction from residents, particularly from
Black residents of East Oakland, the city engaged with community leaders
and organizations to discuss their views. One interviewee reflected on how
the residents were emotional and clearly felt hurt and betrayed over a lack
of inclusion in the process, even though staff felt as though the
engagement that they had conducted on the Bike Plan was sufficient. The
interviewees felt as though the start of these talks was venting but
eventually moved into a problem-solving space. They determined that the
East Oakland community was made up of many essential workers, and that the
idea of Slow Streets for exercise and recreation did not resonate. The
community was more interested in traffic calming than recreation.
This led to the creation of Slow Streets: Essential Places to particularly
serve the largely BIPOC East Oakland community.
Most cities tried to course-correct during implementation in response to
concerns, including Oakland engaging with East Oakland to create Essential
Places and bringing in a community artist. In addition, Chapel Hill staff
realized the “quick win” town-owned streets that were eligible for
temporary multiuse paths were in affluent, majority-white neighborhoods,
which did not allow the state-owned roads with higher Black populations to
benefit from the program. This prompted town staff to look for more
creative, community-driven solutions in lower-resourced neighborhoods.
- *Setting a precedent for quick action.* The interviewees thought that
this experience showed the speed at which active transportation and
infrastructure programs can be implemented, with some reductions in
regulatory barriers. These interventions will provide a precedent for
change. This is particularly true for more risk-averse stakeholders, such
as traffic engineers and municipal attorneys. Faster implementation after
more authentic community engagement, in which the public is able to react
to something tangible on the street, could revolutionize the relationship
between communities and local government and push active transportation
forward to build healthier communities. Pilot testing, where people can
experience the changes and suggest adjustments, may garner more authentic
feedback and build trust with communities if the interventions are actually
implemented in a reasonable time period. However, multiple cities found
that temporary materials still need to be robust. Lightweight materials
that are easily moved or damaged by the public often cause more negative
reactions from the public, since they can quickly turn from infrastructure
to trash, and thus reinforce perceptions of neglect and disinvestment by
- *Strategic communication is key.* The projects in these four cities
show that the methods by which planners receive feedback and communicate
the goals of transportation projects must be well thought out. Community
engagement is one way to inform and prepare the community for projects, but
that was missed in most of these cases. This led to confusion among
residents about the goals of programs. For example, East Oakland residents
found the stay-at-home order in conflict with the message of Slow Streets.
Most cities mentioned that to get the word out for these programs, they
posted information on their websites, the mayors publicly announced the
programs, and press releases were published. This is not enough to reach
the general public. Interrogating and questioning who is providing feedback
and how to measure success of the projects is also important. Solely
relying on voluntary online surveys and community meetings is not reaching
the people necessary to make decisions. Oakland found creative ways, such
as short text surveys advertising where infrastructure is located and
social media content, to evaluate programs. To understand who is giving
feedback and how representative the feedback is, it is also important to
track demographic data such as race, income level, ability, and
Washington, D.C., realized that its main method of communicating to
restaurants about the Streateries program, through BIDs and Main Street
organizations, was leaving out restaurants that were not in the wealthier
neighborhoods with these organizations. Moving forward, program staff is
committed to reaching out to businesses more equitably.
The lessons learned from the pandemic will undoubtedly change how active
transportation planning is conducted in the future. It is clear that many
municipalities are interested in faster, cheaper ways to adapt their
streets to encourage active transportation and are reflecting on the
COVID-19 pandemic for lessons to do that. Transportation planning firms are
developing expertise in the subject, so municipalities should think about
partnering with experts on these adaptations to find a good fit for their
own streets. In addition, local governments—particularly transportation
planning departments—should collaborate with economic development
professionals and local business owners to see how streets can be adapted
to fit multiple goals. The question that lingers over this experience is
how to implement an active transportation program quickly and equitably,
avoiding a traditional, stale community-engagement process while at the
same time not using a top-down approach. These case studies suggest that
acting quickly in a way that facilitates *in situ* community engagement and
adaptation could be one solution. This may be a “wicked problem,” but
learning from cities’ responses to COVID-19 gives us a good place to start
interrogating that problem.
Impact of ‘slow down’ campaign debated
THEY’VE added a pop of sunshine yellow, blue outlines of small children and
a clear safety message to hundreds of Winnipeg yards over the past few
It’s clear there has been some demand for the signs warning drivers to
“Please slow down” in blue capital letters.
On social media, some folks described the signage as a non-offensive,
“friendly reminder” to drive safely. Yet others appear divided on how
effective the Winnipeg Committee for Safety campaign is.
An advocate pushing for the City of Winnipeg to lower its residential speed
limit to 30 km/h from 50 km/h said she’s not convinced the signs produce
their desired effect.
“I think they give people the sense of control... but if the city knows
speeding is a problem, how is this actually addressing the problem? This
could give the illusion of improving safety,” Emma Durand-Wood, a volunteer
with Safe Speeds Winnipeg, said Tuesday.
Instead of sharing a reminder to slow down, she said the city should reduce
the speed limit to change driver behaviour. “I think people who are really
brazenly speeding aren’t looking at signs on the side of the road.”
The Winnipeg Committee for Safety launched the sign campaign in 2018 to
encourage drivers to reduce speeds, in hopes it would prevent traffic
collisions and injuries.
Coun. Cindy Gilroy, who helped lead the initial campaign, said the signs
quickly became popular, so up to 100 more were provided for each city
councillor to give out in 2020.
Gilroy said the display may not alter the habits of persistent scofflaws
but do remind folks who became distracted while driving to check their
“It is a (visual) reminder... there’s kids around here, slow down,” she
The Daniel McIntyre councillor said she hopes the city will permanently
reduce the residential speed limit to 30 km/h, something a pilot project is
now testing on four local street sections.
“In an urban environment, we want to have safe communities where people
feel that they can… walk around their community, cycle within their
community without having a fear of being hit by a car,” she said.
A public service report says the city can’t evaluate the actual impact of
the signs on vehicle speed, since the signs were handed out to any resident
who asked, with no parameters or rules set to study them in a set area.
The city did seek feedback from those who signed up to get the signs in
2020, for which 535 different households provided an address.
About 138 responded to questions about the program, with 94 per cent saying
they supported it and 94 per cent also agreeing the signs should continue to
be available to Winnipeggers.
However, just 45 per cent believed drivers slowed down after viewing the
signs, while 39 per cent felt they didn’t. The rest answered the response
was “neutral” or they weren’t sure about it.
Winnipegger Ray Hignell said he opposes both the sign campaign and calls to
lower the speed limit.
“I find (the signs) offensive. What I get is the law is the law and the law
is 50 (km/h). It’s not up to somebody else to appoint themselves… to tell
me or anyone else that they should be driving slower,” said Hignell.
He fears a reduced speed limit could create congestion without resulting in
notable safety improvements.
“It will slow some (drivers) down and they’ll spend more time wasting their
time in traffic and it won’t solve anything,” said Hignell.
joyanne.pursaga(a)freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @joyannne_pursaga