Edmonton ‘street lab’ program keen to experiment with innovative ideas for traffic safety

A new city program is aiming to keep communities safe in a unique collaboration that seeks innovative ideas from residents to calm traffic trouble spots.  

Vision Zero Street Labs, which launched in April, is looking for adaptable — albeit temporary — solutions such as installing curb extensions to shorten crossing distance, converting a block to a shared street or painting a crosswalk to make it more visible.

“We want to hear about your experience, what’s going on in the street, and then think about ways that we can improve it so that our streets feel safer,” Jessica Lamarre, the city’s director of safe mobility, told CBC’s Edmonton AM on Tuesday. 

“We want to be on (streets) and enjoying them and not worried about driver behaviour and other kinds of problems that we sometimes experience.”

Edmonton AM6:27Street Labs

It’s a city initiative to crack down on unruly drivers in residential area. Jessica Lamarre is the city’s Director of Safe Mobility. 6:27

The project is part of the city’s Vision Zero plan, which aims to achieve zero traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2032. 

According to the 2020 Vision Zero report, there were 12 fatalities in 2020, a slight drop from 14 recorded in 2019 and well down from 32 fatalities in 2015, when the Vision Zero plan was adopted.

Serious injuries dropped to 231 in 2020 from 268 the year before. 

Despite fewer drivers in March 2020, the city saw a 30-per-cent increase in motorists exceeding the speed limit by 20 km/h and a 200-per-cent increase in drivers travelling at more than 50 km/h over the speed limit.

Lamarre said the city will help neighbours share perspectives and gather ideas.

“We want to make sure there are lots of, you know, lots of voices, lots of ideas and thoughts,” she said. 

The city has already received 80 submissions, of which about 30 have potential to become a street lab, Lamarre said. 

Although the program is looking at temporary solutions for the summer months, Lamarre said it could also provide ideas for permanent, year-round installations. 

“We have to make sure that we can clear snow and ice, for example, or make sure that we can do regular maintenance with the materials that are on the road,” she said.

“But we want to look at that and see what’s possible.”

Edmontonians interested the street lab program can apply on the city’s website.

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