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Open Portage & Main to Pedestrians

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  • Friday, December 05, 2008 11:35 AM
    Message # 73518

    This was discussed at the last meeting and I feel it is an important issue that should be brought before the city. This should be supported by both the resident's and the Biz. Here is quote from the brouchure, Downtown Winnipeg/urban design guidelines,"Portage and Main is one of Manitoba's most famous landmarks and its vibrancy is enhanced with pedestrian use. Streets offer more than just vehicular movement, they are part of the public realm and are political, symbolic and social meeting places."

    I feel that opening this intersection will improve business in the Exchange and certainly improve access to other areas of downtown by residents. This closed crossing creates not just a physical barrier but a phychological wall. I have many reasons why this should be changed, but if we want change we need to take action.

    What actions are required? Letter to city planners? An area petition? Go to the Free Press? Demand a feasibility study? Stage a residents protest march? Lets start a discussion to create a plan.

     

  • Thursday, January 01, 2009 3:43 PM
    Reply # 79996 on 73518
    Anonymous
    Heather Boyd wrote:

    This was discussed at the last meeting and I feel it is an important issue that should be brought before the city. This should be supported by both the resident's and the Biz. Here is quote from the brouchure, Downtown Winnipeg/urban design guidelines,"Portage and Main is one of Manitoba's most famous landmarks and its vibrancy is enhanced with pedestrian use. Streets offer more than just vehicular movement, they are part of the public realm and are political, symbolic and social meeting places."

    I feel that opening this intersection will improve business in the Exchange and certainly improve access to other areas of downtown by residents. This closed crossing creates not just a physical barrier but a phychological wall. I have many reasons why this should be changed, but if we want change we need to take action.

    What actions are required? Letter to city planners? An area petition? Go to the Free Press? Demand a feasibility study? Stage a residents protest march? Lets start a discussion to create a plan.

     


    Hi Heather,
    I agree it is certainly time to challenge this old belief.  For a 'famous landmark' there are no people to be seen.  It does present as a barrier in may aspects.  Is this something that could be discussed at the next meeting with the membership, the Biz and CentureVenture?  
  • Friday, January 16, 2009 12:57 PM
    Reply # 84330 on 73518
    I see that we have a few responses to the poll but no further comments. When I ask people about this they say it would create traffic problems, do the cars not have to stop at the lights there anyhow? 
  • Saturday, January 17, 2009 10:58 AM
    Reply # 84603 on 84330
    Heather Boyd wrote:I see that we have a few responses to the poll but no further comments. When I ask people about this they say it would create traffic problems, do the cars not have to stop at the lights there anyhow? 
    I'm certain that traffic is not an issue. There are substantially busier intersections throughout the world that accommodate pedestrians. The challenge here is political. Prior to the Sam Katz government, the wheels were in motion for the barriers to be removed. Not sure what happened...
  • Sunday, January 25, 2009 12:30 PM
    Reply # 87766 on 84603
    Steve Maksymyk
    Justin Friesen wrote:
    Heather Boyd wrote:I see that we have a few responses to the poll but no further comments. When I ask people about this they say it would create traffic problems, do the cars not have to stop at the lights there anyhow? 
    I'm certain that traffic is not an issue. There are substantially busier intersections throughout the world that accommodate pedestrians. The challenge here is political. Prior to the Sam Katz government, the wheels were in motion for the barriers to be removed. Not sure what happened...


    I never saw any of these barriers in NYC which has about a million equivalent intersections.

    And by the way - hello!  1 year in the exchange and loving it!

  • Monday, February 09, 2009 4:05 PM
    Reply # 103588 on 73518
    Anonymous
    There are some factors to be considered with regard to opening Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic.  The first, in my eyes, is safety.  There will undoubtedly be accidents and probably fatalities.  The situation Steve mentioned in NYC is considerably different in that jaywalking is the norm in that city.  I've been there many times - cars don't stop for people but they are used to avoiding them,  and people are generally adept at dodging cars.  That just isn't the case in Winnipeg.  Another consideration is the merchants in the underground mall.  Having viable businesses within walking distance of the Exchange District is important.  That mall plays an important role in the life of this area and I would be hesitant to take potential customers away.   The third factor is, of course, Winnipeg weather.  During much of the year, the underground makes our walking experience considerably more comfortable.  All of this being said, I believe that remodeling Portage and Main would do wonders for our city - sculpture, trees, etc. could turn it into a beautiful location we could all be proud of. 
  • Monday, February 09, 2009 4:09 PM
    Reply # 103639 on 73518
    Anonymous
    The above entry (against opening Portage and Main) was posted by me, Diana Tynes, resident of the Fairchild  Lofts.  I'm not sure why it  posted without my name - i'm somewhat computer-challenged, but I didn't want people to think I was hiding my name intentionally. 
  • Wednesday, April 15, 2009 8:17 PM
    Reply # 148728 on 73518

    Hi

    I would argue against opening Portage and Main.  Three things come to mind.

    1. With respect to traffic it is important to appreciate that the traffic at Portage and Main is not simply North-South and East-West.  Heavy traffic also flows from Southward on Main to Westward on Portage, from Eastward on Portage to Southward on Main, and from Eastward on Portage to Northward on Main.  These flows would be stopped by pedestrians on both  Portage and Main.  Perhaps there is some solution (e.g., Barn's Dance lights), but I think it would be a challenge not to have substantial impact on traffic flow without great expense (e.g., overhead walks). I cannot readily think of similar intersections in central downtown of other large cities with which I am familiar.  For example, Yonge and Bloor in Toronto is nothing like Portage and Main in terms of number of lanes and traffic flows.  I can think of quite convoluted and even more busy sections of Athens, Greece, but they tend to be organized as large traffic circles and to still produce real traffic jams (as opposed to the pseudo-jams of Winnipeg).

    2. The historical time when Portage and Main was busy and an attraction presumably included street level stores.  This does not even seem possible anymore given the office buildings on the four corners, and is perhaps undesirable (even if possible) given the competition it would present for other parts of downtown trying to promote retail use (e.g., Portage Place, Albert and McDermot streets).

    3. Should we not be encouraging pedestrian traffic through the Exchange District proper rather than Portage and Main, at least in the summer.  Perhaps it is just accidental, but the shaded portion of the Exchange District map does not even include Portage and Main.  I would think it better to promote walking via Albert, McDermott, Bannatyne, and the like rather than Portage and Main.  Perhaps thinking of Market Square park as center with radiating streets makes more sense than focusing on Portage and Main?

    To put my comments in context, I've lived in exchange (Ashdown Warehouse) since early 1990s.

    Take care

    Jim Clark

  • Friday, April 17, 2009 10:26 AM
    Reply # 150118 on 73518
    Deleted user

    I would like to add my perspectives on this discussion on Portage and Main.  I have lived at the Ashdown since 2001.  The Portage and Main intersection goes back a long ways for me. I can recall the corner from my childhood and young teen years.  Portage and Main was a walking destination, it still is for me, except that I can’t cross it. Sometimes, I do cross it, just beside the barricades. Actually, if I don’t have to go into the shopping centre, I always cross above ground.

     

    Several reasons to open the intersection:

     

    1)      A vibrant and busy pedestrian intersection brings life and interest into an area.  The intersection at Park and George Street in Sydney Australia is such an intersection.  George Street is the oldest street in Australia and it is busy!

    Vehicles stop at the 4 corners all at once to allow pedestrians to cross in every direction, including diagonally.  It takes 40 seconds for all of the pedestrians to cross.  I have a video of this.

     

    2)      The cement barricades are ugly and stupid looking in and of themselves.

     

    3)      The sculptures look like they are trying to welcome people to Portage and Main. The barricades say ‘stay away.’

     

    4)      The barricades send a message that Portage and Main and the downtown for that matter is ‘off limits.’  If, someone would barricade their front door it would send the same message.  We’re being directed to a ‘back door’ for perceived business reasons.  Psychologically, it feels to me like I am being ‘herded’ into a cattle shute. I don’t feel I should be ‘forced’ to go down there to support businesses.  

     

    5)      I, for one, feel safer crossing Portage and Main around the barricades after supper and early morning than underground.  I don’t feel safe under Portage and Main. I feel like I am walking into a potential trap. I have been down there in circumstances where I know I wasn’t safe. Yes, there are security cameras – which would not do much good should I get into trouble. The security people walk the Skywalk but it is unlikely they would be around if I needed them.

     

    6)      Pedestrians would cross above ground if they were given the option. I think you would actually see more pedestrian traffic in the area that would spill out into the Exchange and vice versa, underground and downtown. I can imagine people walking to Portage and Main for many reasons including walking over to look at the Caribou crossing the Seal River sculpture and sit there for awhile.

  • Sunday, April 19, 2009 11:34 AM
    Reply # 151824 on 150118

    Hi

    Thanks to Shirley for suggesting a model intersection of Park and George in Sydney, Australia.  The "all pedestrians crossing at once" is the Barn's Dance lighting I had mentioned.  There was one in London, Ontario decades ago, but gone now.  Also important to note that average low temperature in Sydney for coldest month (July) is 47 degrees Fahrenheit, somewhat higher than our average coldest month! 

    One of my points against opening P&M was lack of any amenities (i.e., shops, cafes) because of the 4 office towers.  I found the following image of Park and George.

    http://www.pbase.com/hamstra/image/45616075

    Although only one corner and part of another is clearly visible, this certainly strikes me as strikingly different than P&M with respect to presence of stores, etc.  Shirley and others would know better what street-level businesses are there.  Is the thought that opening P&M would be followed by a ressurection of the stores that use to populate that intersection, as shown in the following image from 1950s (site has some great old pictures of Winnipeg).

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/26266017@N00/3233246228/in/set-72157616448048218/

    Photo also shows street parking and that one entire corner (where Richardson building is now?) was parking lot. 

    But here is the reality of the four corners today:

    http://www.danharperphotography.com/desktops/portage-main_1280.jpg

    I just don't see it as a desirable destination, at least not without great investment that would then detract from developing other areas in the Exchange, although looking for the old pictures of Portage and Main also revealed considerable sympathy for the idea of opening up the intersection. 

    But it also revealed many attractive images of the older buildings at alternative locations in the area, locations that for me are far more amenable to development.

    Take care

    Jim Clark

     

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