Crosstown Greenway: Youth-led placemaking for safer streets

We worked with students to co-create new curb bump-outs outside a middle school in New Westminster.

Photo: Jared Korb

The people who use city spaces are the experts on how those spaces succeed or fail them.

In the spring of 2021, Happy Cities worked with the City of New Westminster and Glenbrook Middle School to install new student-designed curb bump-outs and bring a co-created community engagement initiative to life. Supported by Spin (a leading micromobility company), this project had two main goals: to bring awareness to the Glenbrook/Rotary Crosstown Greenway, and to make the route safer for students by slowing down vehicle traffic near Glenbrook Middle School. The new curb extensions reduce the crossing distance that people share with cars, sharpen the turning radius for vehicles (forcing them to slow down further), and draw attention to the school crossing. We added decorative bunting for a hint of celebration, as students and faculty returned to school after a particularly trying year.

A Glenbrook student first raised safety concerns on the Crosstown Greenway in the fall of 2020, noting that cars were driving too fast and failing to yield to students cycling to school. The student raised her concerns with the City, who brought Happy Cities on board to devise a solution.

Inspired by this student’s observations, we designed a co-creative process led by students, for students. Through collaboration with the school’s supportive staff, and with funding from Spin and the City of New Westminster, Happy Cities launched a bump-out design competition with Glenbrook students. Over 60 students participated by submitting their artwork and voting on their favourites. Students and staff then helped paint the top designs at the intersection in late August 2021, installing new bump-outs in time for the students’ return to school. This project not only improved students’ safety, but increased their sense of ownership and belonging over the street, while building capacity around urban and civic affairs.

In addition to the painted bump-outs, Happy Cities worked with Jonnon, a Vancouver-based Community Contribution Company that works with people facing barriers to employment, to create street decor to further raise awareness for the Greenway. Using retired street banners from the City of New West, Jonnon created upcycled decorative bunting that was installed along the street and at the entrance of the school. Together with the bumpouts, this bunting created a celebratory environment for the first day of school, in a socially and environmentally conscious way.

This work aligns with the City of New Westminster’s Master Transportation Plan, Strategic Plan, and Seven Bold Steps to address the Climate Emergency.

Client: City of New Westminster

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