Riverside DRIVE isn’t for pedestrians, and it shows

Riverside Drive and Ouellette Ave. Intersection. Photo Jon Liedtke

While walking to and from the riverfront today I noticed something interesting at the intersection of Ouellette and Riverside Drive. It might not be obvious at first glance, but when you notice it, it’s unmissable and clearly intentional.

Have you noticed what I’m talking about? It’s the lack of crosswalk buttons on all four corners.

It dawned on me after thinking about this that it’s seemingly designed as such.

Why would the city limit the mobility and safe crossing of pedestrians along the street to access the Riverfront Sculpture Garden, Festival Plaza, Great Canadian Flag, and even the soon to be constructed Streetcar Beacon? Because Riverside Drive isn’t for pedestrians and it never was.

Bike paths along Riverside Drive abruptly start and stop, causing cyclists to merge into moving traffic. Vehicles regularly speed down Riverside Drive treating it as a dragstrip because there are so few stop lights. Even successful events such as Open Streets which saw thousands flock to a Riverside Drive on a temporary Road Diet have been attacked by drivers who saw lane reductions as a personal attack.

The simple fact of the matter is, Riverside Drive, like much of the City of Windsor, was designed for automobiles at the forefront, and the rest of us as an afterthought.

Recent attempts by Mayor Dilkens and Francis before him sought to construct a tunnel under Riverside Drive, linking City Hall to the Festival Plaza. Why? Presumably because interrupting traffic along Riverside Drive is too untenable a thought for some politicians, or perhaps just their constituents.

As Anne Jarvis once wrote, bring on the road diet, but first, let’s focus on making the city safer for cyclists and pedestrians, even if that means starting simply with crosswalk buttons.

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