Located in picturesque downtown Canmore, Alberta, Spring Creek Drive is the latest example of the Town’s dedication to raising the bar for what it means to be liveable. Already pedestrian friendly, Canmore aims to increase trips taken by foot or bike to 30% to benefit its 14,000 residents and many visitors that it welcomes each year.
Spring Creek Drive is unique amongst North American streets because it gives priority to cyclists and pedestrians, implementing design cues that let motorists know they are guests on the corridor.
“The more difficult it is to drive, the safer drivers behave. The easier it is to drive, the less safe” says Dick van Veen, one of Mobycon’s designers on the project. “The visual transition in the street should be what makes you change your behaviour.” On Spring Creek Drive, these transitions are introduced through natural elements such as street trees that will mature to arch over the road and chicanes with flower beds implemented to not only slow traffic but also to make the streetscape pleasant and comfortable for pedestrians.
Spring Creek Drive exemplifies the flexibility of the Dutch approach by creating space for each type of user and by assigning the automobile low priority when space must be shared. Mobycon worked with the Town of Canmore to create a conceptual design for Spring Creek Drive that would create a more comfortable environment for walking and cycling. Visual cues like increased sidewalk widths, decreased road widths, and red pavement for bicycle lanes make it intuitive to tell who goes where. A protected cycle track separates cyclist from car traffic while raised sidewalks provide a safe barrier for both cyclist and pedestrians. The final engineering, from preliminary design through to project completion, was led by McElhanney, with Mobycon providing design review services.
The final result speaks for itself. “If you showed this photo to any Dutch person, they would automatically assume that this is the Netherlands until they noticed the mountains in the background” notes Van Veen.
Spring Creek Drive serves as a primary example of how to accommodate diverse users for a variety purposes. There’s no doubt that putting cars last in a society dominated by automobiles is a bold move. But by putting people first, Canmore has demonstrated that Dutch design can be adapted to fit a Canadian context.
For more information on this project, please contact Mobycon consultant Lennart Nout
‘The interplay of different modalities within cities intrigues me. I am always looking for the best solution for the city and its inhabitants, while playing close attention to bikes. In the Netherlands and abroad I give workshops on the development of cycling culture, strategic network planning, street design and intersection design.’
Manager of International Strategy