With provincial health officials indicating physical distancing will be the norm for the foreseeable future, potentially well into 2021, the City of Vancouver is examining the possibility for additional road closures to provide pedestrians and cyclists with more space to safely go outdoors.
This follows the recent closure of Stanley Park to cars (except for the Stanley Park Causeway) and the eastbound lanes of Beach Avenue between Stanley Park and Hornby Street, which Mayor Kennedy Stewart has called a success.
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“We’ve noticed that lane closures have been incredibly successful. Bikes have been moving off the seawall, and onto one of the closed lanes has been fantastic, with pedestrians walking there also,” said Stewart during a press conference on Wednesday.
He noted that city staff are now in the process of exploring more streets, with a list now being considered, especially streets that currently see higher pedestrian traffic.
Given that vehicle traffic volumes are significantly down across the city, there is currently an ability for temporary road closures to allow for pedestrian and cyclist space to spill over.
But Stewart said the closures will be done in consultation with the area’s business improvement associations, as the city does not want to negatively impact businesses that are able to operate.
“After we do those consultations, depending on what the provincial health officer suggests, we can move forward with extra space for people to stretch their legs or to peddle to get the physical and mental breaks they need for what is a very stressful situation for everybody,” he added.
This comes as the city reaches completion on its West Georgia Street water main upgrades, with the final paving process set to finish at the end of this week. Over the past few months, crews installed 375 metres of new water main in downtown, replacing infrastructure that was installed almost 100 years ago. The new water main is expected to last about a century and will be more seismically resilient.
Site visit to Beach Avenue earlier this morning. Eastbound lanes closed for #PhysicalDistancing active travel & sure to be welcomed by nearby downtown #Vancouver residents. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/32iNjaMBpn
— Dale Bracewell (@Dale_Bracewell) April 11, 2020
Please consider closing half of Beach Avenue to cars forever. Hundreds of bikes out with space and safety. Amazing! (No hate tweets please car enthusiasts)#vancouver #COVID19 #smogfree pic.twitter.com/2Cm8wlGUoD
— Dr. Carl J Brown 🌎 (@drcarl_vancouvr) April 21, 2020