When I was choosing where to get my apartment, my major concerns were cost, decent neighborhood, and access to the LRT for work. That was pretty much it, and as a result I ended up in (what I consider to be) a pretty great location down by the Century Park LRT station.
I soon realized that, while LRT access was great for getting downtown and to sports games, being as far south as I was ended up being fairly inconvenient for getting around to the rest of town, and I was using the Henday ring road a lot more than I had been at my old home, even just to get to other places within Edmonton.
So I decided to take a look at just how efficient the road system is in Edmonton, and how much the Henday played a role in my life. First of all, here's a map showing travel times for someone who lives downtown:
Living smack-dab in the middle of the city definitely has its advantages in terms of minimizing driving times (note: this is assuming no traffic, which is fairly unreasonable for a lot of the time downtown...). Pretty much anywhere between the Whitemud and the Yellowhead is accessible within 15 minutes by car, and, 54% of the city's area is accessible within 20 minutes. Sherwood Park freeway and the Whitemud really open the city out to the east, too.
On the other hand, here is what a similar map looks like for me:
Though it's still a comparable net transit time (53% of the city area is still accessible within 20 minutes), the covered area is very different. This is hardly surprising, of course - sticking someone out at the end of a city ought to increase travel times. What's really cool, though, is that it takes less time to get to the exact opposite side of town than it does to get downtown, even though it's twice as far away. You can even see the effect of the Henday around St. Albert, where a thin band of green colouring hugs the highway.
The real benefit of the Henday is revealed when I plot the same map, but instead avoiding the use of the Henday if at all possible:
Yikes. Pretty much the only easily-traveled areas of the city are anything south of or connected to the Whitemud. Now only 39% of the city can be accessed within 20 minutes, with some areas taking up to 45, and the Cameron Heights neighborhood is pretty much completely lost to me, even though it's fairly close (as the Henday was the closest bridge to it).
Taking the Henday can reduce travel times for me by up to 35%. That's why I love the Henday.