Last year the City of Vancouver developed several programs to adapt the public streets and spaces of the city to the stark realities of physical distancing during Covid.
The City’s three pronged approach included “Room to Move” which included the Slow Streets rollout and “Room to Queue” which provided expanded street space for people to queue outside of businesses.
This involved taking over the parking lane if needed outside of businesses for line ups. And to facilitate deliveries, “Room to Load” provided special priority loading zones for business deliveries. Perhaps the extension of restaurant space onto the sidewalk can be included here too.
Let’s get back to that “Room to Move” option. Mike Barrett Bryan-Soron at @MikeSoron on twitter was walking on Broadway at Cambie Street when he took the photo featured above. He posted it on twitter and wondered why during a time of physical distancing sandwich boards were protruding on the sidewalk. Indeed the city’s policy on the placement of sandwich boards on sidewalks has surprisingly lax wording on it. Business owners are “asked to refrain” from placing the sandwich board on the city sidewalk. Add in the Covid pandemic and a row of parked cars and busy Broadway, and pedestrians are pretty well constrained in a stressful narrow available sidewalk.
The City of Vancouver twitterperson got back to Mr. Soron and cheerily asked him to report the situation. Mr. Soron responded “I expect city staff and elected officials to implement existing policies and prioritize pedestrian accessibility without my block-by-block reporting”.
For Mr. Soron that means the City getting serious about ensuring sandwich boards are out of the way so people can safely walk, and looking at widening the sidewalk to include the parking lane of Broadway.
But much like the Slow Streets large white plastic jersey barriers which have been kicked to the curb like yesterday’s fish sandwich lunch, there’s really no follow up to ensure that sidewalk users can comfortably and conveniently walk, access businesses and maintain that two meter physical distance.
As Mr. Soron states, “this is Broadway and Cambie, in B.C.’s second largest employment centre, on one of the busiest transit corridors, across from a major rapid transit hub”.
He forgot to say the situation is easily seen from City Hall too.