Friday, December 17, 2010

Richmond Street Gets a New Sidewalk

When I first started working in the 401 Richmond building at the corner of Richmond and Spadina I was surprised to find that the stretch of Richmond between Spadina and Peter had a sidewalk only on the north side of the street. Not only was there no real sidewalk, but drivers on the one-way Richmond street would zoom down the road as if it was some sort of urban highway. So I was happy when we got the notice that the City was going to be constructing a sidewalk starting in September. That sidewalk is now pretty much finished. And it's amazing what it has done to the experience of walking that one block. The experience has been documented by a blog operated by Urban Space, the property group that owns 401 Richmond.
Not only was it annoying to have a full sidewalk only on one side of the street, but the big mostly blank wall of the 401 Richmond building coupled with the not so interesting facade on the north side of the street made for an unpleasant experience dodging hidden driveways and attempting to walk the block as quickly as possible. Basically, the road wasn't stroll-worthy. It was a way to get somewhere, but nothing else.

The introduction of not only a fairly wide sidewalk but also street trees (and lights I think to come as well as bike parking hopefully) has done amazing things to the feel of the street. What was once a stretch of barren, car dominated road now has the potential to be a pleasant experience. Not only that, but I'm willing to bet that simply the presence of pedestrians walking on a legitimate sidewalk will slow the drivers down coming around that curve. Suddenly, it's not just a place for cars, but people too.

The above pictures shows the sidewalk under construction. The drainage grate line is the previous sidewalk edge and shows how much the space was widened when the parking was removed.

A recent fire alarm at 401 Richmond demonstrated the usefulness of the new sidewalk when fire trucks pulled up against it and people used the now increased pedestrian space to gather and wait.

I can't wait to see what the street looks like in the Spring when the trees start to bud. Next up for Richmond Street? Separated bike lanes perhaps? Hopefully? Maybe?

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