On May 4, the City of Winnipeg opened St. Vital’s Egerton Road as a Sunday/holiday style active transportation route, seven days a week for the duration of the month.
In this arrangement, non-emergency vehicle traffic is restricted to one block, and encouraged to enter and exit the street at the nearest available intersection.
It is one of nine such routes opened up in Winnipeg during the pandemic shutdown — the city’s four permanent summer active transportation routes (Lyndale Drive, Scotia Street, Wellington Crescent, Wolseley Avenue) plus five new (Egerton, Kildonan Drive, Assiniboine Avenue, Kilkenny/King’s Drive, Churchill Drive).
The concept was first pitched by Egerton resident Christian Robin, whom I interviewed for an article published in September 2017.
Robin has been pleased with the result so far.
"Health professionals are constantly reminding us to find ways to keep ourselves active and safe," he said. "Active transportation routes like Egerton Road tick all the boxes for walkers, joggers, cyclists, pet owners, couples, seniors, and families with young children and it’s great to see all of them take advantage."
Circumstances aside, 2020 has been an exciting year in St. Vital for pedestrians and cyclists, with several new amenities opening or being used to their full potential for the first time. Egerton is complimentary to some wonderful new active transportation infrastructure.
The new AT tunnel beneath Fermor Avenue connecting the Glenwood neighbourhood and the Niakwa Trail to the Niakwa Road and Alpine Place neighbourhoods has been a hit. Its addition has created an unanticipated walking circuit between itself & Archibald Street, utilizing the two Seine River foot bridges on either side of Fermor.
That same project also added a new, secondary active transport trail up at road level along the Fermor bridge, providing a helpful alternative to the nature trail below during seasonal flooding.
New bike pathways and signals at Fermor and St. Anne’s Road, linked to the existing pathways, have been a dramatic improvement for cyclists in the area, providing safe, segregated and efficient access into the picturesque low-traffic residential streets of St. George, south of Fermor.
Perhaps best of all is the realization that all of these projects were part one of the largest road rehabilitation the area has seen in years. The success here goes to show that car, pedestrian, and bicycle infrastructure need not be at odds. All wheeled vehicles from semi-trucks to baby strollers and everything in between were the big winners of the Fermor rehabilitation.
A reminder that our communities prosper when collaboration, rather than competition for our scarce resources rules the day.
Ryan Palmquist is a community correspondent for St. Vital.