Regina city council has voted to allow one lane (westbound) of traffic to flow through City Square Plaza at 20km/h. While this is an improvement over leaving it closed to vehicular traffic, it is insufficient. City Square Plaza was renovated with the understanding that it would be re-opened to two way traffic. That is why local businesses were willing to support the project.
Since construction began, traffic downtown has been markedly worse. It is quite literally the biggest frustration facing downtown businesses. What’s worse is that pedestrianizing 12th avenue has provided little benefit to anyone during the week. It is a nice place for events during the weekend, but there are very few pedestrians on the street during weekdays. Worse still, it creates a dead-zone at night where there are few pedestrians and no vehicles on the road. This makes the area more dangerous for pedestrians, since there are few bystanders around to deter criminals. That makes the walk back from O’Hanlon’s (the only night time destination in the area) less appealing than it would have been prior to pedestrianization.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the 12th avenue project is that the brick road is too fragile for bus traffic. This has created a conundrum for trasit planners, as there is now nowhere for southbound buses to turn left while driving downtown without jamming traffic. Had the street been closed to traffic with the exception of delivery vehicles, and had the city diverted bus traffic from 11th to 12th avenue, the plan might actually have made some sense. The increase in traffic flow on 11th from removing buses might well have made up for the closure of 12th. Instead, we now have a compromise situation that is neither beneficial to transit users, nor to drivers. The marginal benefit to the few daytime pedestrians from not having to wait 45 seconds to cross the road hardly justifies closing the street to vehicular traffic. With this compromise position, they will still have to wait for the light to cross the road, and traffic flow is severely curtailed. This is an unacceptable compromise.