Category Archives: Edmonton Neighbourhoods

Edmonton Could Have A Nice Ride

Recently, I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Minneapolis, a real jewel of a city.

While certainly not at the top of most world-class city lists (though with a handful of downtown arenas and stadiums you’d think they’d be at the top of all the lists) it really made an impression on me. One thing I definitely came away with, however, was a lesson for Edmonton and other mid-size Canadaian cities: we can be bike cities, even with long winters.

Wandering around my first day I found a Nice Ride bike rental station around the corner from my hotel. This surprised me because, while I had heard Minneapolis was one of America’s best bike cities, I had wondered how they did it with a cold prairie winter. The answer is they just do it, winter doesn’t scare them.

There are plenty of parks and bike paths around the city. The Midtown Greenway was where I took my own Nice Ride. It was once a rail line so it provided a great trip through the heart of many central neighbourhoods. That it landed me at a small in-town lake district was a good bonus.

The thing that really captured my interest though was that the Nice Ride system was a cheap, accessible way for residents and tourists alike to ride. It was a couple of dollars to rent the bike for a short ride and if I checked in at the next Nice Ride station in 30 minutes the ride was free. And the stations are definitely close enough to make it a reality that a daily commuter could ride for free all year (though an annual pass is just $65). I used a credit card to purchase the rental, and Nice Ride then charged me whatever rate matches with the time I had the bike out.

Check out all the old apartment flush to the now-defunct rail line.

The system operates April to November, which is why I think Edmonton could support a similar bike rental system. With 83 Avenue poised to become a bike street, 102 Avenue already designated as such, and great biking around the University of Alberta and river valley (and parks) I would love to see the City incorporate a bike rental into our transportation plans. Making it easy, quick, affordable, and normal to ride bikes around would encourage more people to ride, and more transportation planning on something other than potholes and commuter routes.

Maybe it’s a Make Something Edmonton project, or perhaps just a request to City transportation staff, but whatever happens it’s certainly been enough to get me talking about Minneapolis. And that’s got to say something about Nice Ride.

Downtown arena explained

This is Edmonton’s downtown now:

And this Edmonton’s downtown when the Oilers get a new arena built largely with public funds:

Any questions?

*****

With the latest vote on the downtown arena pushing the project ahead on its “$450-million” budget I thought I would simplify the reason this project – and absolutely nothing else in the world that you could spend half-a-billion dollars on – holds the key to Edmonton’s downtown.

(Please ignore the absolute commercial and residential rise of 104 Street, the new office and residential buildings at 109 Street, expanding LRT lines, the slow improvements to east Jasper – the neighbourhood to be known as The Quarters – new condo towers and businesses on west Jasper, the city’s booming food truck scene, Capital Boulevard, and MacEwan University moving all of its campuses downtown.)

 

Edmonton: It’s All Happening

With mature neighbourhoods, including my own Strathcona, seeing more growth and the LRT packed every day, Edmonton is a city making the right moves.  (With room for more big ideas.)

Throw in our “Super Saturday” and there are really not many other places I’d rather be right now. Heck, even talking to some Toronto folks on a recent trip I think our food truck scene is better than in other cities.

Good stuff, Edmonton.

The Room, Tommy Wiseau
There's so much to do I can't choose!