Landscape architecture student Matthew Gibbs wants to make getting around the chilly Canadian city of Edmonton easier - and a lot more fun. For his thesis project, Gibbs envisioned a seven-mile trail in the city that fuses commuting with winter activities. Rather than trudging through snow, the so-called Freezeway would invite locals to zip around Edmonton on ice skates or a toboggan!
In 2013, Gibbs came up with the Freezeway, which nabbed the first prize of a design competition. Rather than battling Edmonton’s long winter, the Freezeway would embrace it by transforming two existing greenways in the city into an icy trail. The plan would bring together the now separate greenways, connecting them into a seven mile long skating trail. For roughly five chilly months out of the year, Edmontonians would be encouraged to get outside, using the ice trail for fun, to get to work, or visit the shops and cafes it passes through. The frozen trail would also encourage locals to exercise and engage with neighbors and friends, rather than be cooped up inside during sub-zero temperatures. When intersected with pedestrians or cars, the trail would be outfitted with rubber crossing points to ensure safety.
During the summer, the Freezeway could function as a bike path, continuing the trend of active, green commuting and exercise. Locals loved the idea so much that next year, Gibbs has decided to crowdfund a pilot version of the Freezeway, which will pop up at the Edmonton Ski Club.