We don’t know if you’ve heard but much of the US and Canada has been a bit parky recently. Cold, even. In fact, some of the worst snowstorms and wintery conditions that have been seen for generation have hit.
The city of Edmonton, Alberta is no stranger to this kind of cold however, with temperatures remaining below freezing for almost half the year.
With this frosty forecast not about to change, Landscape Architecture graduate Matt Gibbs has proposed an idea that could actually change the whole way an entire city operates in winter. Furthermore, it could become literally the coolest way to get to work ever…
He’s has proposed the ‘Edmonton Freezeway’. It’s essentially an 11km path or ‘winter skating lane’ that would take users through the main attractions and around major routes in the city. And when the snow finally melts, it would revert to being a regular cycle path.
Can you actually imagine anything more Canadian than ice-skating to an ice-hockey game? Perhaps skating to the game after eating pancakes with maple syrup, but eating more moderately than their friends South of the border.
This idea of a ‘freeze way’ may seem like a bit of a joke, but Gibbs dedicated his masters theses to a freeze-way. He said he’d been trying to find ways to “make winter cities more liveable, with diverse and active transportation options“.
Surprisingly, adapting the travel infrastructure to frosty conditions isn’t a new idea for Edmonton. Although more of a glib offhand comment than a educational thesis, in the mid 90’s city councillor Tooker Gomberg suggested that all the fire hydrants should be cracked and people could skate to work.
Plans proposed by Gibbs, however, are far more advanced. They utilise buildings as windbreaks, and propose developments and plazas in sunny north facing areas. The path would also provide built in snow storage areas to split the skating lane from traffic, with skate rentals in metro stations and even funky mood lighting.
Unfortunately this idea, while very popular with the public, is still in its infancy and has no idea of cost yet. Some outspoken critics, such as current councillor Mike Nickel, have called it the “stupidest idea I’ve ever heard“.
If we had the climate cold enough to sustain it, would you make your morning commute on a freeze way? When at least one news report a week is about sustainable transport solutions and obesity crisis, this seems like an intelligent way of utilising a fairly limitless supply of cold and winter and ice that Edmonton seems to have in abundance.
We can hear the angry cries of taxi drivers already. “Look where you’re going, you ice skating expletive filled expletive expletive!”
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