The editors of Price Tags have been discussing why open streets for walkers, rollers and cyclists are not being considered off Vancouver’s downtown peninsula. The Province’s Medical Health Officer recommends exercising by yourself or in your existing small family groups respecting the needed two meter distance.
We’ve watched Winnipeg and Calgary do the right thing by providing loops of walking and cycling streets for their residents. Vancouver? Not so much other than in Stanley Park and along Beach Avenue where it is for those local residents only.
London England’s Transport for London (TFL) has already been thinking about opening streets for pedestrians and cyclists to maintain the needed physical distancing space on roads.
Gwyn Topham in The Guardian notes that TFL wants to improve street safety for sidewalk users and cyclists, and keep people active. TFL controls what are called “red routes” in London, the major roads in the city. Just as in the rest of Great Britain, (and in Canada too) vehicular traffic has evaporated, and the 20th century rule of giving sidewalk users a miniscule portion of the road allowance is at odds with the required two meter personal distancing.
Instead of looking at political reasons why not to do the right thing, TFL is making changes to allow pedestrians and cyclists longer green in road crossings, and working across the varied boroughs to provide a unified approach to opening streets.
Imagine if Vancouver had a walking and cycling commissioner. London has Will Norman who has examined what other global cities are doing and is “ looking at the busiest parts of our road network to see where we can give people walking more space.”
In New Zealand and Columbia cities have widened sidewalks and roped off parts of vehicular streets for cyclists and runners. London is hoping to create “filtered” streets where access will be for walkers and cyclists and emergency vehicles only.
In Manchester England there have been plans for a pedestrianized street network in the northern part of the city. Residents have just gone ahead and cordoned off sections of streets to give pedestrians and cyclists needed space.
We’ve seen this kind of activity in Vancouver where street closures are set up using hockey nets and barbeques set up across streets. And surprisingly, the community’s initiative without Manchester council approval is condoned by the area’s cycling and walking commissioner:
“Creating safe space for people to make essential journeys without a car or take exercise is essential if we are to be able to sustain isolation, so seeing streets cordoned off is really important. It’s particularly heartening to see these measures being implemented by the people who live there, telling us this is how they want their street to be.”
Manchester was also the first city to introduce a “slow” lane for those reading and texting. This was sponsored by a cell phone company and was more of a “cultural statement” of the need to amble while multi-tasking.
Here’s that video below.