pedestrian side walk closed

With a high volume of road construction currently underway in the city of Calgary, an interesting debate is brewing over what should be done with regard to pedestrian access in road construction sites where the sidewalks need to be closed.

A proposed new bylaw brought forth by Alderman Druh Farrell would require contractors to provide covered pedestrian access along all streets that are closed for construction around the city and surrounding neighbourhoods.

Farrell says forcing people out onto busy streets is dangerous, and there have been instances in which simultaneous construction on both sides has made pedestrian access virtually non-existent.

Farrell says that ideally, erection of a covered sidewalk at construction sites should be voluntary and should be done where possible as a matter of course out of respect for pedestrian safety.

But she says that too few contractors are making the effort.

pedestrian side walk“We’re experiencing a lot of construction right now, but pedestrians are being forced to walk into traffic,” Farrell says. “It’s an ongoing problem and it’s becoming quite dangerous in many areas.”

Farrell says covered pedestrian access would also deliver protection from falling objects or debris at the site, and that there are a number of workable solutions to the problem. She says hollowed out shipping containers, for example, could be used as pedestrian walkways.

However, Bill Partridge, president of the Building Owners and Managers Association, opposes the proposal.

Citing the example of current construction at Eighth Avenue Place, where the sidewalk has been closed in order to allow trucks to bring materials to the site, Partridge says providing safe, covered, pedestrian access is not always possible, especially where larger construction projects are taking place.

Contractors, he says, must be able to do what is reasonable and manageable, and people should be able to walk only where it is safe for them to do so.

Farrell plans to bring a motion for the proposed bylaw before council later this month, and will ask an administration to come back with details as to how this could work.

By Andrew Heaton