Reallocating Public Space during Covid 19-call to action
Posted May 3, 2020
Hello active transportation supporters,
Our community, as well as the rest of the world, has undergone many changes due to the emergence of a new coronavirus. The only weapon we have to slow the spread of this virus is physical distancing. Health officials say that it’s crucial to maintain physical distancing likely for many months, if not longer, until a vaccine is developed and then administered.
I’m sure you’ve been getting outside for some fresh spring air and going for a walk or for a bike ride. However, even though there are fewer cars on the road, maintaining the recommended two-meter distance from your neighbours is difficult without stepping onto the road and essentially into traffic. Public transport isn’t much of an option with reduced runs and reduced capacity.
Some municipalities are adopting measures to expand cycling and walking spaces into roadways by reducing car capacity https://www.tcat.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Example-street-re-balancing-in-Canada.pdf
Don’t you want Guelph to be one of those municipalities? We are in a unique position to make this happen because this motion will be presented at the May 11th City Council meeting:
Recommendation: That staff be directed to prioritize work to close traffic lanes during the COVID-19 public health emergency to support social distancing by creating special separated active transportation routes in strategic locations with funding of up to $50,000 reallocated from capital project New Sidewalk Construction (RD0283).
By contacting our City Councillors (their email addresses are provided below) or email@example.com you can let them know that you support this motion. If you want to write a letter to appear as part of public record or you want to delegate, please sign up before 10 am on Friday May 8.
Here is what we would like to see:
Increase road share given to active transportation users. Public health directs us to give at least 2 metres of space between strangers to support “social distancing” (more for joggers and cyclists) but without more public road space allocated to walkers and bikers the city as configured does not allow residents to follow this directive.
In many parts of the city, people are walking on the road or the city-owned boulevards to give each other the required space. This is not possible in certain places, namely at bridges with busy streets, narrow sidewalks, and an absence of green space.
Some such places have high active transportation traffic volumes and we are asking the city to temporarily repurpose vehicle lanes to give other road users the space they need.
We have specifically identified the following:
(a) Wyndham Street through the downtown core,
(b) Several bridge pinch points that are badly in need of more space for social distancing and which have multiple traffic lanes, such as
- Speedvale Avenue Bridge over the Speed River, and
- Eramosa Road Bridge, and Macdonell Street Bridge over the Speed River as being areas that are badly in need of more space for social distancing and which have multiple traffic lanes.
It is our opinion that these suggestions could be implemented quickly and with a minimum of staffing requirements, and constitute an “easy win” in the initial fight against the spread of COVID-19. This is not a time for business-as-usual thinking, and we hope these proposals are well received.