I am visiting Western Canada for the first time in my life, visiting Edmonton, Alberta to give a speech at a planning law conference.
I spent yesterday visiting a few neighborhoods: Old Strathcona (a student ghetto/historic area near the University of Alberta), downtown Edmonton, and Patricia Heights (an inner suburb with a big Jewish population, at least big by Edmonton's standards).
Some thoughts positive and negative:
*Great bus network- over 100 bus routes, many with just 15 minutes between buses- pretty good for a city the size of Jacksonville. The city is also beginning a light rail system; right now it is just one line, about the size of Buffalo's system.
*Too many cul-de-sacs making it difficult to walk from one part of suburbia to another. Edmonton's cul-de-sac dominated area begins only about four miles or so from downtown, which is a bit earlier than in many other cities. And there is much less of a grid connecting the cul-de-sacs than in suburban Toronto.
*Streets are too wide. In Old Stratchona the main street of the neighborhood is six lanes, which is a bit much for what is basically a pretty low-key, low-rise area.
*Terrible airport transportation. The only city bus serving the airport costs twice as much as other buses and runs only during rush hours. The last morning bus leaves at 7:30 am and the airport bus does not start running again till the late afternoon. Even Jacksonville does this better; a normal bus serves the airport, and it runs about the same hours as other city buses.