With only one ride on or off the platform at the Stampede/Victoria Park CTrain station, Jen Hall used to worry about being trapped if a fight or worse broke out.
This station is under renovation. But Chinook, Marlborough, Zoo and many other CTrain platforms have a similar design issue. It’s one of many physical things that make passengers feel less safe on the train, according to text messages to CBC Calgary.
Hall works at a downtown law firm and recently met CBC Calgary at the construction site.
“There have definitely been occasions where you hear shouting or arguing, and that’s when I started to think about the worst case scenario: what are my options? Where am I? What can I do? ” said Hall.
“I often travel alone and am not an athlete at all, so if need be, where are my outings? »
Hall believes in transit. She “gave up” her car a few years ago and continues to take the train or bus wherever she needs to go. But she is much happier now that local renovations are progressing.
Mirrors, convenience stores, toilets
In the hundreds of text messages sent for CBC Calgary’s Transit Safety Project, the most common solution offered by CTrain riders is for Calgary to close the platforms with turnstiles or gates — an option that the city council asked Calgary Transit to study this fall.
But it’s not the only physical design option for making stations safer, other passengers and experts say.
Some suggestions from Calgary residents include more mirrors and better lighting to improve sightlines; others said they wanted the city to make sure there are multiple places to get in and out, like at the new Stampede station. Still others want Calgary to bring back convenience stores, public restrooms, buskers or even community gardens and other elements to enliven the space.
These latest examples are all part of a different approach to public safety, says Francisco Alaniz Uribe, assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture.
“Really successful stations, they have multiple uses beside them and there’s a lot of people traffic. It all creates more of a community environment, a safer environment,” he said.
“Integrated with the rest of the street”
For example, hop over to Sunnyside Station, a CTrain stop in the city center just north of the Bow River. He says this kind of public openness and dynamism is already happening on a small scale.
“We have the grocery store next door, maybe not the best design alignment but there is a grocery store, there are two cafes within 100m, there is empty land with community gardens and space alternative events nearby,” he said.
“This may continue in a future design.”
The professor says the Stampede Park station is doing some of those things with its redesign.
“It’s very integrated with the rest of the street, and it’s better when it comes to perception [of safety] and maybe also crime prevention,” he said.
“Even if no one else is on the platform, you don’t feel alone.”
Calgary Transit has a wide variety of stations built across the city. Some are integrated into neighborhoods while others are surrounded by parking lots.
Calgary residents who text CBC Calgary said that in many cases, rather than having services connected to the station, users have to walk through big-box stores to get to the entrance, like for those heading to the Superstore at McKnight/Westwinds.
And even relatively new stations like Sunalta, and recently renovated stations like Chinook, only have one entrance/exit to the platform.
Calgary Transit had no one available to talk about station architecture and safety. A spokesperson said safety teams consider sightlines and safety features daily, and designers consider these principles when renovating or designing new stations.
The redesign of Stampede Park is managed by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, as it is integrated with the expanded BMO Convention Center and downtown East Village.
It is expected to be completed next year with a price tag of $60 million.
Kate Thompson, CMLC’s chief executive, said the aim was to open the station so that it was truly part of the environment and all the activity of the new development.
“So if there’s a busker or if there’s a new door for Stampede in that location or a pop-up concert – whatever happens there can happen over an area much larger than that. which would traditionally be applied to a single platform.”
So far they have demolished Plus-15, the spiral ramp and staircase on the west side of Macleod Trail and the double staircase on the east side of the tracks which was sandwiched between barbed wire fencing.
And in October, two new pedestrian lanes were opened, allowing for the first time in 40 years pedestrian circulation in the neighborhood and train access from both ends of the platform and from both sides of the street.
“Open, easily accessible and safer”
Taking CBC Calgary to tour the Stampede station, Hall says she’s already starting to feel the space is livelier and safer since the new pedestrian access points were added to the platform in October.
She pointed to the unobstructed line of sight she now has when approaching the platform as something that makes her feel comfortable.
“There is another opportunity to get to a safe place if something happens on the platform,” she said.
“I feel like it might extend the times I feel comfortable on the platform. Before, I would look at the clock and say, ‘OK, I think I could take a cab home home instead of the train’… now it feels open, easy to get to and safer.”
This is a community project exploring safety issues on Calgary Transit.
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