I'm walkin' (and fallin') here
I'm writing with one finger, left hand, because I broke my right wrist last week. I was returning home from the ice on the sidewalks protest, because I'd been walking those sidewalks for weeks. Slush got me in the end ("Why isn't this city more pedestrian-friendly?," Feature by Erica Butler, March 5).
I wanted to respond to all the comments in last week's paper. They are all right in one way or another. We can't fault the city or the contractor for the weather. We CAN fault the contractor, however, for not knowing what he didn't know—the weather that would be coming after that first sweep—when they didn't get down to the concrete. If they'd done that we'd all be safe and not "whining," as I've heard he said. I also heard that the same guy got the contract for next year. I'll sign any petition to make sure that doesn't happen. —Fed-Up Optimist, via email, Halifax PS: I'm 64, I live alone, and I'm right-handed.
Great job describing the myriad reasons why metro pedestrians feel they're the last on the list. I suspect it's not the sidewalks that have patience maxed out but also the long-term failure of the city to develop an integrated transportation policy.
Decades of widening streets to improve capacity and speed of vehicles (more recently it's a roundabout fetish) has been to the detriment of meeting real transportation needs or of ensuring pedestrian and cycling safety. The city has also wrecked a lot of the small-scale pedestrian-friendly grid pattern of Halifax streets by privatizing them for super-blockers such as the Metro Centre, Scotia Square, Maritime Centre or, newly, the Nova Centre.
In 2014 Danish tourists wrote to Canadian newspapers to express their shock about our cities gutted by parking lots and our unfit citizens in need of physical exercise. Halifax got special mention. Small wonder. A Friends of Halifax Common photographic exhibition Phylum Paveia, documented parking lots on the Halifax Common. It found that approximately 25 percent of the 240 acres of public land is parking lots. And the city plans to pave The Pavilion parking lot as soon as possible. Many of these parking lots are for people who drive to the same work site destination for their entire 30-plus year career.
Why should parking be convenient? We know that vehicles produce more than 30 percent of our GHG emissions. Infrastructure and services costs public money for police, fire, ambulances, medical, theft, traffic control, road-building and maintenance. And societal costs for loss of life or injury are enormous. When developers cry "Densify!" shouldn't the parking lots be the first to be built on?
In fairness to the vehicle-dependent, its clear the city needs to put real money into real long-term options for everyone. The timing is perfect. You can give support to commuter rail at halifax.ca/transit/commuterrail.php. Meantime, walk long and prosper. —Peggy Cameron, Halifax
I've had more than one vehicle rev its engine while waiting for me to cross at a pedestrian crossing, and plenty more simply pass right on through because I'm not yet at their side of the street. On slippery ice. What's infuriating about it is clearly 40 feet down Connaught, the traffic is backed up for blocks. I don't understand the rush just to wait behind more vehicles. I've never had such rude, intimidating attitudes from drivers in other cities. Halifax really should be embarrassed. —posted by Raisin Zeta Jones
A change is needed to be made on both sides in order for Halifax to achieve a suitable environment for pedestrians. The majority of Halifax's demographic is made up of seniors and students which means there will be a lot of pedestrians walking around the streets. Everything in downtown Halifax is within walkable distance so it would make sense to widen pedestrian sidewalks and make pedestrians a priority when planning future landscapes.At the same time, space is needed for cars so that they can be moved away from crowded places. There needs to be more parking grounds in downtown Halifax so that people do not need to park their cars along sidewalks where space is needed for people to walk. —posted by Tao Wang
Just get on with it Halifax! Pedestrians are citizens! We are all pedestrians. This makes us seem so backwards. —posted by JLP