New Pedestrian Bridge

A new pedestrian bridge installed in the fall of 2017 provides access between the Beverly Street area and Intercity

Excellent addition to the active transportation infrastructure in Thunder Bay. This point has a large catchment area that can use the bridge to access shops and services in the Intercity area.

Dog’s Can’t Read…much

This is a popular low-traffic route for pedestrians and cyclists to access the Intercity commercial district and so it seems reasonable to try and separate this traffic from the off-leash dogs in the park.

However, on one occasion when I followed the directions on the sign, while walking through the park, I was joined by an aggressive dog who didn't read the sign. This dog's owner/master/human companion was on the other side of the fence. As the human became concerned and began to raise his voice while trying to call the dog, the dog perceived me as a greater threat. I was lucky that the dog didn't bite, but it did nip, bark and growl as I walked, as calmly as possible, to the end of the fence where the snarling beast was reunited with its human.

As I continued on my walk, it occurred to me that the dog owner and all of the other dog walkers are themselves "pedestrians." Why don't all the humans walk on that side of the fence. Because that would be ridiculous, right?!

If anyone asks why I now always walk  on the "Dog" side of the fence (I still cycle on the other side during the summer) I am prepared to introduce them to my invisible (and possibly imaginary) dog, Harvey. If they get to walk on the "Dog" side of the fence then so do I. Otherwise all dogs should be required to pass a reading and comprehension test before entering the park.

The fact that people walk their dogs far past this fence along the old railway bed, means that every pedestrian and cyclist using this route must interact with the dogs anyway.

 

Carrick St Dog Park fence

Update to Vehicle Access

I am updating the previous post regarding vehicle access to public parkland. Snow_Com_Aud

It seems strange that staff clearing snow from the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium parking lot would purposely keep a vehicle route open into the park. During a busy winter, they always took the time to diligently keep this path open.

The other side of the park had a restriction to vehicles that was in place for a couple of years.

IncineratorRavenwoodEntranceYou can see from the photo that the bollard has not been present for a while (nor was it ever effective at keeping vehicles out of the park).

In addition to fly-tipping, noted in the previous post, you can see that this access also allows idiots to rip up the grass with their vehicles.IncineratorTireTracks

Roads, parking lots and driveways already represent a large proportion of the urban landscape. Motorized vehicles should not be allowed to degrade our parks and greenspaces.

Vehicle Access

The City has attempted to block vehicle access to parks and undeveloped areas around town. In many cases these barriers are eventually breached and, unfortunately, this inevitably leads to fly-tipping. WinnipegAveWalkway

FurnitureDiscardAuditoriumParkingLot

The earthen berm at the end of the Community Auditorium parking lot has been periodically rebuilt. The most recent removal of this barrier allowed at least one vehicle to drive between the baseball diamonds in Incinerator Park, tearing up the grass, and at least one pick-up truck load of trash was dumped at the edge of the bush inside the park this spring.

I can imagine the motives of some people, who are anxious to receive their rental damage-deposit back when they move. Many do not have access to a truck, or the money to rent one. This includes a few post-secondary students who move away after exams in the spring. The City policies regarding residential garbage pickup and tipping fees at the dump are sound but it has to be acknowledged that these same policies will motivate some to dispose of their trash where ever they can. The costs of monitoring, and cleaning up this sort of household waste from parks and undeveloped areas, and perhaps offering dump runs for low income families, should be included in the overall implementation of these policies.

I applaud all of the individuals and organisations that participate in the annual Spring-up to Clean-up program, promoted by EcoSuperior. But, perhaps, the thousands of hours of volunteer labour used to clean up Thunder Bay and pull tires, couches and all manner of debris from the bush, allows the City to be complacent about keeping vehicles out of some areas, providing and maintaining garbage cans, and considering the needs of people who can’t afford to properly deal with large quantities of trash. If the City had to pay their own employees for the hours it takes to do the Spring-up to Clean-up campaign, I think there would be more effort put in to prevent the problem in the first place.

There are a few people that have access to a truck and still choose to illegally dump their garbage. Preventing vehicle access to parkland in the city, lighting and monitoring of other areas, and increasing the maximum fine for illegally dumping are some measures that should be taken.

On a final note, for those that don’t consider yard waste, such as tree branches, as garbage – the reason you don’t leave it on your own front lawn is because it soon starts to look like an ugly pile of trash!

Crossing Memorial Ave

Memorial_High_SouthIt is very difficult to see the next traffic light when looking south on Memorial Ave from High St. The light, including the next marked pedestrian crossing, is approximately 1 kilometre away. Consider being midway between these intersections and needing to cross the street. During busy times of day it is difficult to find a safe break in traffic and crossing the 5 lanes of traffic is dangerous for anyone with mobility difficulty, at any time. If  the pedestrian walks to the light and then back down the other side of the street it could require walking a full kilometre to get where you want to go. Of course, if you have difficulty walking it is dangerous without a controlled crossing, but prohibitive to walk a kilometre to simply cross the street. It is interesting to note that most research into pedestrian behaviour shows that people with ready access to a vehicle will choose not to walk if the destination is more than about 400 m away.

Memorial_High_North

 

Looking north from High St we see a similar situation. It is possible to just make out the controlled intersection at John St but it is almost 800 metres away. Again, crossing between the lights is difficult and dangerous and yet a prohibitive distance to walk to the lights if you are not close to High St or John St. The more difficult it is for you to cross the street, the more onerous the extra distance to a controlled intersection becomes.

Memorial Ave is not part of suburban sprawl, but is a busy commercial strip which runs right through the heart of Thunder Bay. Having only one safe pedestrian crossing along a 1.8 km stretch of this artery is crazy! The Ontario government recently passed the Enhancing Road Safety in Ontario Act. It allows municipalities to use new pedestrian crossing devices. There are many places in Thunder Bay where these are needed but nowhere more so than along this stretch of Memorial Ave.