Bike Air Monitoring: Streets Audit #2

August 1–A small group of us explored commonly used routes to schools and parks in the Gibson-Landsdale neighbourhood. We wanted to measure air fine particulate pollution (PM 2.5) along these routes, as well as document issues with mobility safety and street vibrancy. The health hazards attributed to prolonged exposure to PM2.5 include cardiovascular and respiratory disease, asthma attacks, acute bronchitis and premature death.

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Talking air quality at JC Beemer Park.

We started off outside our office (22 Wilson Street), where we recorded the levels rising whenever heavy industrial trucks went by (a few of them took the corner at James at Wilson, by climbing onto the sidewalk–for real!).

We decided to skip Cannon and take King William to the first park, JC Beemer. The route was very quiet, not much traffic on this street and the air quite clean.

At King William and Steven, we counted a total of 8 stop signs at this crazy curvy intersection. Obviously, the sight lines are terrible, and the turning radius of the sidewalk is super convenient for car drivers–pedestrians and cyclists, not so much.

We noted that at Stirton and Cannon, that is no bike lane connection from the Cannon cycle track to Powell Park (and the SoBi station at the park). As one participant says: “As it stands a SoBi user on the cycle track needs to cross Cannon at a non-signaled crossing further west and double back to the station.”

We saw some beautiful art along Birch Avenue alleyway and a vegetable garden in a side alley. After this delightful break, we stopped at Birch Park. The air quality was similar to the rest of the route–that is, fair. We observed that there were no pedestrian facilities on the west side of Birch (near the Park) – there is currently no sidewalk or if there is a sidewalk, it’s not accessible and ends abruptly. There is also a lot of space to better connect Barton to the park. So we’ve asked City staff to investigate whether a sidewalk can be built and to consider making the sidewalk accessible with urban braille.

On our route back, we checked out Birch at Barton which is really dangerous location. From a previous walkabout, we’ve been told that City staff will put in a work order for Zebra crossings at the intersection of Barton/Birch because lines aren’t clear. Signage and wayfinding were also discussed – ideally to let people walking/cycling along Barton know that the park is nearby.

One participant notes, “Also the 2 turning lanes out of 3 lanes on Birch to go West on Cannon make it impractical for people on bikes to continue south on Birch as they need to be on the far right lane to continue north, thus crossing all lanes from right to left at the signal light on Birch and Cannon. And then the opposite once they reach Wilson to not be in the way of all lanes/cars turning East onto Wilson. However, the last point may be moot if Wilson is converted into 2 way at the same time.”

We’ve also been told that Birch Avenue will be converted to two-way in the near future. The re-design will also include cycling facilities, likely a bike lane.

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