Thanks to the Grand High Poobahs at city hall, Edmonton will soon be a cleaner and safer place for mom, apple pie and the girl you left behind.

The increase in cleanliness will come from the efforts of the city’s bylaw storm troopers, who will first use gentle persuasion, and then $250 fines, to keep miscreants from throwing their cigarette butts on the sidewalk or into the street.

I have to admit that this enforcement is long overdue. The mess created by thousands of cigarette butts creates a shabby impression of our city we can do without. I assume cigarette smokers do not grind their butts into the carpets or hardwood floors of their friends’ places, so why they have no problem littering public areas is anybody’s guess.

The city has installed ashtrays at bus stops as part of this effort, but we are going to need a whole lot more of them if we are really going to change things. The smoke Nazis will probably wail loudly that doing so will only encourage people to smoke, but somehow I don’t think so.

The safer city part of the equation comes from a decision to actively enforce the bylaw that prohibits skateboarding or bicycle riding on the sidewalk. Apparently they will start with a short stretch of Whyte Avenue and fan out from there. Again, it’s about time. Picking on skateboarders, I’m not so sure about, but I applaud the effort to get bicycles off sidewalks.

Bicycles are vehicles and they represent a clear danger to pedestrians. To be fair to cyclists, with the exception of bicycle courier yahoos, I understand why cyclists use the sidewalks. Without a decent system of bicycle lanes, cyclists are forced to risk your well-being in order to protect theirs.

Anyone who uses a bicycle to commute, or as their primary form of transportation, knows what I mean.

It’s one thing to ride around a suburban neighbourhood with the kiddos and it’s quite another to brave city traffic. Many motorists see cyclists as an annoyance and do their level best to put them in harm’s way. If the city really wants to keep pedestrians safe, it is going to have to do the same for cyclists.

Apparently there is some money in the works for functional bike lanes, so time will tell how seriously our municipal mandarins take the safety of both pedestrians and cyclists.

Latest From ...