Canadian City May Build 'Freezeway' for Skating Commuters

Edmonton student proposes an alternative way to get around
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2015 1:30 PM CST

Edmonton, Alberta averages below-freezing temperatures from October to April—and some locals have decided it's time to make winter work for them, the BBC reports. City officials have latched onto an idea by a landscape architecture student, who himself was inspired by a city councilperson's joke decades ago: "Why don't we just crack the fire hydrants open, flood the streets, and let people skate to work in the winter?" Matthew Gibbs built on that idea to suggest an approximately seven-mile "Freezeway." Essentially, it's a highway to be used by commuters and others on ice skates.

The Freezeway, Gibbs says in a video, would "promote winter programming, active lifestyles, sustainable forms of transportation, (and) social activity," the BBC notes. It would also be a major tourist attraction, boosting the city's "identity." And there's already a good site for the project: old rail lines that go into downtown Edmonton. In case it sounds nuts, it's worth noting that other cities have ice-skating trails: Popular Science points to Ottawa's Rideau Canal Skateway, which has been around for 45 years, the CBC reports. Next winter could see a pilot project for Edmonton's Freezeway, which wouldn't go to waste in the summer, Gibbs notes on YouTube: It would be a bike path. (In Norway, a town that goes dark in the winter has looked to mirrors on mountains to keep things brighter.)

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