Finally – over a hundred days into the covid era – a city leader has articulated an initiative for “Reallocation of Road Space to Support Shared Use during Pandemic”.   Lisa Dominato but forward the following notice of motion, bumped to May 12 for discussion.

WHEREAS

  1. The City of Vancouver declared a local state of emergency on March 19, 2020 in response to the global COVID19 pandemic;
  1. The Province has recommended physical distancing of 2 metres (6 feet) to prevent the spread of COVID19;
  1. The Province has also recommended the public continue to safely enjoy the outdoors, including local parks and public spaces;
  1. The Provincial health officer has commented publicly in recent weeks that partial street closures and one way travel/routing can be an effective way to enable physical exercise and safe distancing during the pandemic;
  1. Cities across Canada and around the world are undertaking measures to reallocate street space and roadways for pedestrians to safely exercise, access businesses and employment, while maintaining a safe distance due to the current pandemic;
  1. Vancouver City Council has previously endorsed motions to support slower residential streets and encourage safer shared use;
  1. The City of Vancouver and Park Board recently identified congestion in and around Stanley Park, and subsequently closed the Stanley Park roadway to cars and one lane along Beach Avenue to enable safe physical distancing during the COVID19 pandemic;
  1. The City of Vancouver has initiated a street reallocation initiative that focuses on Room to Queue, Room to Load, and Room to Move during the COVID19 pandemic;
  1. The ongoing pandemic necessitates that the City reallocate road space on an urgent basis now and develop plans for mobility and space use as part of our post-COVID-19 recovery and new economy.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council direct staff to expedite efforts to identify and implement appropriate reallocations of road space, such as high use greenways and streets adjacent to parks where space could be reallocated temporarily to enable safe shared use (pedestrians, cyclists, motor vehicles) and support safe physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic response, and

FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to communicate information to the public and businesses regarding the suite of street measures available to the City for reallocating space to support access to local businesses, to support loading and curbside pick-up, and to support physical activity and distancing in neighbourhoods across the city, and

FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to report back to Council in fall 2020 on refined options for mobility and public realm use us as part of the post COVID19 recovery and new economy.

Note No. 8 in the Whereas’s.  Had any readers heard of a City of Vancouver street reallocation initiative that focuses on “Room to Queue, Room to Load, and Room to Move”?  Nothing was sent to Price Tags (perhaps too low below the horizon) – nor has much been said of note from the City’s leaders, particularly the Mayor. 

What a lost opportunity to reinforce other initiatives promoted by the City: reallocation as a health response, a climate-emergency response, a local-neighbourhood planning response, an active-transportation response – all of the above at a time when the difficult-to-do has become the necessary-to-do.  (Speaking of which, one would hardly think it necessary to direct staff “to communicate information to the public and businesses regarding the suite of street measures available …”)

Lisa’s motion more importantly goes beyond the immediate pandemic: she sees reallocation as important to a recovery- and new-economy response.

Comments

  1. The Mayor talked about this two-three weeks ago in his weekly COVID address and engineering staff already issued a whole report on this. But hey, why miss an opportunity to grandstand?

  2. Good to see this initiative! I hope that considerations for the recovery phase include any effects on transit as repurposing curb lanes during a period of very low traffic may be fine, but when vehicles volumes and transit ridership start to recover, the battle over curb lane allocation will heat up again. Will transit and its riders be thrown under the proverbial bus and forced to struggle in congested mixed traffic lanes – with knock-on effects on speed, reliability, operating costs and ridership? Or will general traffic lanes be reduced with the inevitable outcry from motorists? Or will the expanded patios be taken away?

    Pedestrian movement must also be taken into account as we already have some patios that narrow the sidewalks to barely acceptable widths (Red Card on Smithe at Seymour being a prime example.)

    So patios created by converting permanent full-time street parking are okay, as are the side street patios like those off Main St on 14th Ave, or Bute off Robson. However, caution will be needed on bus routes where civic objectives would be in conflict, particularly in the absence of a more systematic traffic reduction strategy.

  3. Are there plans to expedite the City of Vancouver’s street parklet programme to make the process quicker and easier during this time? Allow businesses to decide whether they want more revenue from customers, increased distancing and to better protect public health, or if they would rather keep the one parking space outside their store.

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