There is a little more Dutch in Winnipeg these days as that city welcomes its first “Woonerf”. As reported in the Metro News this is a street innovation for pedestrians before vehicles, and achieves “calming the street down through design”.
A typical Dutch woonerf
The location of the woonerf at John Hirsch Place used to contain an old rail line. Now there is a curbless lane that allows for slower vehicular traffic and no delineation between bikes, cars and pedestrians.
There are bollards near the edge of the lane to keep people from driving on the landscaping (and I have seen bollards in Amsterdam that retract to allow for emergency vehicle entrance). There is seating for walkers which as soon as it was placed became a place to be with the locals.
Besides providing a pedestrian link between Waterfront Drive and a park and further trails, the woonerf has become a new public space. Similar to the “DeepRoot” cell system installed in Vancouver’s Olympic Village for the ongoing sustenance of the street trees, Winnipeg has installed a similar system for increased street tree soil volume and rain water capture.
While this is only a demonstration project, we all toast Winnipeg for their first woonerf-and suspect with citizen use and demand, it won’t be their last.