We’ve partnered with Walk On, Victoria, the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network and the Bicycle Mayor of Victoria to help call for better and safer streets during our COVID-19 outbreak. You can read our full press release below and add your name in support.
The Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, Walk On, Victoria, Greater Victoria Placemaking Network, and the Bicycle Mayor of Victoria are calling for more space to be temporarily allocated people on foot and on bike so they can safely practice physical distancing. Some of the challenges include
We propose some key actions to help reduce stress on our hospital system and provide people safe spaces to walk and cycle:
- People travelling by foot and bike for essential trips need safe spaces to travel in
- Deaths and injuries on our roads are a common cause of hospitalization, something we can’t afford while our health-care system is battling COVID-19
- Most sidewalks and crosswalks are not wide enough to allow pedestrians to maintain the recommended distance of two metres for social distancing while passing
- While cycling is recommended as a best-practice, many people won’t ride because they don’t have a safe place to do so
- Open temporary protected spaces for walking and cycling on major roads, streets, and high priority “squeeze zones” by allocating additional space so that people can maintain safe social distancing without encountering vehicular traffic
- At signalized intersections, change pedestrian ‘activation’ or “beg buttons” to automatically activate the pedestrian crossing so that people aren’t contaminating a common touch point, thereby removing a potential disease vector
Many cities are taking bold action to resolve these challenges. For example, Calgary is opening roads and vehicle lanes to give more room for pedestrians and cyclists. Bogotá implemented a 47 km corridor of temporary bicycle lanes. They join dozens of other cities around the world with similar actions.
“The challenge that COVID-19 has handed us is enormous and, as we struggle against it for the foreseeable future, we need to ensure our streets and trails are helping with these efforts,” said Corey Burger, Policy & Infrastructure Chair, greater Victoria Cycling Coalition.
“Public health officials encourage residents to go for walks, while maintaining social distancing requirements. Further, many people need to walk to their grocery store and other essential services. We want to make sure people can walk safely while minimizing risk of COVID-19 transmission”, says Amanda Macdonald, Chair of Walk On, Victoria.
“The role bicycles can play in maintaining transport resilience, as well as fitness and wellbeing cannot be understated. Cities around the world are establishing temporary bicycle lanes and widened walking spaces in response to COVID-19. These temporary bicycle lanes and walking space/routes are an indispensable part of the transportation ecosystem and contingency plan for the community. Cycling can provide essential mobility, including last-mile deliveries for goods and services”, says Susan Stokhof, Bicycle Mayor of Victoria.
We call on the municipal governments in the CRD to l work quickly to implement the above solutions to help make our region healthier and more resilient. Our organizations are available to assist with the planning, implementation, and publicizing of safer streets.