April 1, 2015 — Citing increased automobile congestion and demand for parking downtown, the City of Edmonton announced today that construction crews will begin removing sidewalks from Jasper Avenue, beginning with the north sidewalk this summer and the south sidewalk in 2016. The section between 99 St and 121 St will be affected. The City recently completed renewal of a portion of Jasper Avenue and faced criticism over automobile-focused plans for the future renewal of the Oliver stretch.
"We are recognizing now the mistakes we made in the past: that we've let people take far too much public space away from cars," said City of Edmonton spokesperson April Yorick in an e-mailed statement. "This adjustment is necessary. Valuable public space should be for moving cars and then storing those cars. It was never meant for people."
Local driver Gary Newman was pleased to learn of the City's announcement. "Pedestrians have to learn to compromise. They're always asking for more more more. If you give them a sidewalk on a busy road like Jasper Ave, pretty soon the whole road will be a sidewalk and cars won't be able to get through or park. And think of the safety: there shouldn't be people on Jasper. It's too dangerous. There's a sidewalk a few blocks away that they can use." Newman went on to add, "And who pays for those sidewalks, anyway? When pedestrians start being licensed and paying footwear taxes, and wearing reflective vests, then we can talk about building some sidewalks. I drive in from out of town every day, and I've never seen any pedestrians on other roads with no sidewalks, like the highway. I don't think pedestrians actually exist. Especially with the 15 months of winter we get in Edmonton. You just can't walk here. It's impossible."
When asked, Newman stated that he was unaware that vehicle licence fees and gas taxes don't pay for Edmonton roadways, or that Montreal, a city with a very active street life, only has 15 more days per year above 0°C than Edmonton, while seeing less sun and nearly twice the rain and snow as Edmonton. Newman was also unaware that there are already somewhere between 3 to 8 parking spots for every one car.
Afternoon shopper Karla Moore agreed with Newman. "I used to be a pedestrian, and I have nothing against them, but they all jaywalk. They're a danger to me. I might dent my bumper on one. They shouldn't be allowed on the same street as cars. These days, I only shop at a business if I can park directly in front of the door. If I can't make it in the door in less than 5 steps, I won't shop there. Walking is too risky." Asked whether the sidewalk removal would make her more likely to shop downtown, Moore answered, "Probably not. Downtown is scary. I feel safe in my car."
Some business owners, like Dan Spaetzle of Spaetzle Shoes, didn't agree with the announced changes. "We weren't consulted about this at all. But it looks like the City has made up its mind on this one. We're looking to maybe relocate to Calgary now. I hear they just built a new pilot sidewalk downtown, and have an entire sidewalk network planned for the future."
Council will debate next week whether or not to make body armour mandatory for any pedestrians remaining on Jasper Ave. City spokesperson Yorick commented, "You only have one body. It just makes sense to protect it. Why would anyone argue against safety? Duh."
Early history of Jasper Ave
Cars didn't exist when Jasper Avenue was built. Nevertheless, Jasper Avenue, like all streets, was still built for automobiles.
In 1903, the street was unpaved, but sidewalks had already begun encroaching on space set aside for automobiles by future-aware engineers. Horses and carriages were allowed to temporarily use the space until the automobile would begin appearing in sizable numbers over a decade later. Early cycling advocates had begun to call for the paving of the dirt road, as a courtesy to their future automobile-driving selves.
By 1908, automobiles had begun to appear in Edmonton, but still shared the street with Edmonton's first streetcar, horse-drawn carriages, and pedestrians.
It wasn't until the 1920s that the automobile industry invented the crime of jaywalking. Once they succeeded, however, crossing the street on foot became illegal except at marked crosswalks and at intersections with sidewalks on both sides. The new bylaws also led to the interesting fact that on many modern-day Edmonton streets which lack sidewalks on both sides, there is no legal way to cross the street as a pedestrian.
This post is a parody.
In case it has to be said. Though it does contain several factual statements.