Alderney Drive: how people walk on and around an urban highway
Problem, research strategy, and findings: In the 1960s, a short highway was built on the edge of the downtown core of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I wanted to find out whether this urban highway affected pedestrians’ walking patterns, whether they avoided the busy street or not. To test whether Alderney Drive had an impact on where people walk in Downtown Dartmouth, I did an intercept survey of 92 pedestrians in three locations in the downtown core, using a combination of Likert-scale statements and mapping. I found that, while respondents said they did not avoid Alderney Drive in their walking, the maps they drew showed a different picture. Only the central two blocks of Alderney Drive (between Portland and Ochterloney Streets) were identified on most respondents’ routes, which is a nexus of Dartmouth’s public transit (bus routes and the ferry terminal) and the main retail areas of the neighbourhood. Away from the centre, Alderney Drive tended not to be selected by as frequently by respondents, especially where there are no amenities, destinations or sidewalks. It is likely that Alderney was used only where it had a utilitarian function, where it connected pedestrians between A and B, or where there were important amenities nearby such as the library or ferry terminal. Where there is a waterfront trail running in parallel with Alderney Drive, the trail receives the bulk of pedestrian traffic. Takeaway for practice: Where there is a nicer, safer alternative to a walking route, pedestrians will probably take it. Alderney Drive was built based on the planning trends of the 1960s, and given the city’s current planning goals favouring active transportation, it may be worth narrowing Alderney Drive, lowering traffic speeds, and improving sidewalks to make it a better environment for pedestrians. Further study is required of the street’s impact on public transit and vehicular traffic. Also it is worth looking at the effects Alderney Drive may have on local businesses as a result of it bypassing the main retail areas of the urban core.
Fine, A. (2016). Alderney Drive: how people walk on and around an urban highway. Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.