Connecting our City

Paths for People finds the Missing Links

What if there was a way to better connect our city with a means of transportation that was easily accessible for all? In January of this year, Paths for People took a large step in better connecting Edmontonians through their Missing Links project. Paths for People is a non-profit organization that supports active transportation within the city of Edmonton.

The project aims to identify missing or broken links between our city’s sidewalks, crosswalks and bike routes in hopes of filling them. The goal of the initiative is to create easier, more-connected transportation routes for pedestrians and cyclists.

“It’s truly about connection,” says Sarah Hoyles, executive director of Paths for People. “If people can connect and move around the city with fewer barriers … it speaks to the larger mission of Paths for People, which is about creating connection and people having choice with how they choose to move around the city.”

More than 200 missing links were identified by Edmontonians through a submission form on the Paths for People website. These were then mapped and displayed on the website in a visual representation of the city’s connectivity needs.

Of the 200 reported gaps, Paths for People selected five case studies. Traffic engineer and Paths for People’s treasurer, Marcel Huculak, developed project outlines and costs that would be needed to improve each of the selected case study locations. Hoyles says  Missing Links has already had a positive influence, as shown in the City of Edmonton’s Missing Sidewalk Connections Report in June.

“When the most recent report came forward, administration [with the City of Edmonton] actually took our research and integrated it into their report,” explains Hoyles. “Some of the missing links were then prioritized in their feedback, and they recommended an additional $10 million to fill the missing links.”

City council will decide on funding between late fall and early winter. If funding is approved, the next step will be to implement a plan of action to begin creating a more well-connected city, says Hoyles.

Possible changes include inexpensive, straightforward improvements such as adding or adjusting sidewalks, crosswalks and biking infrastructure. “[It’s] low cost, high impact,” says Hoyles. “People’s lives can really be improved with just cheap(er) infrastructure changes.”