Photo: City of Brampton
With physical distancing requiring us to leave 2m of space between people, it's clear that our standard sidewalks and bike lanes are just not wide enough. As municipalities move to close parks and other public spaces and institute fines to reduce gatherings, space for essential travel and exercise is even more scarce than usual. We are also seeing significant reductions or suspensions of public transit, leaving some workers and residents without reliable transportation to get to work or run essential errands like grocery shopping.
As discussed by Robin Mazumder in a recent HuffPost article, these closures disproportionately affect the poor, those who may not have access to private outdoor space and people for whom a huge fund could be disastrous. Read Robin's full piece online here.
In response to this lack of space, there is a growing movement towards rebalancing streets to provide more space for people to move safely on sidewalks and on bicycles while observing physical distancing. Read our full blog post online here.
We have partnered with The Centre for Active Transportation to host a series of webinars about rebalancing our streets. To date, we have hosted two sessions. Recordings of each webinar are available below.
Webinar #1: Making space for physical distancing in Ontario (April 22, 2020)
The conversation included Dr. Anne Harris an Epidemiologist from Ryerson University to share her perspective about the need to provide more space for sidewalks and cycling in order to protect people from both COVID-19 and from traffic injury. Participants also heard from the City of Brampton and Bike Brampton about the interim bike lane that has been implemented on Vodden St to help connect residents to essential destinations and reduce congestion on nearby trails. Although she was unable to participate in the webinar in person, Brampton City Councillor Rowena Santos provided advice for rebalancing streets and a video greeting.
Webinar #2: Making Space: What, Where & How (May 13, 2020)
Public Health Implications & Support
- Letter of support for rebalancing streets from Ryerson Epidemiologists Drs. Anne Harris and Linda Rothman
- World Health Organization (Europe Office) encourages cycling and walking whenever feasible during the COVID-19 outbreak
- Ottawa Board of Health passes motion in support of increasing the amount of safe active transportation space for residents to conduct essential trips and improve physical and mental health while maintaining physical distancing.
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health endorsement to reallocate space for active transportation
Tracking Rebalancing Efforts
- Database of rebalancing efforts across Canada (maintained by Velo Canada Bikes)
- Database of rebalancing efforts around the world (maintained by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Centre)
- Photo essay of rebelancing efforts across Canada (compiled by TCAT)
- Understanding the impact of the pandemic on cycling, a North American cycling dashboard by Eco-Counter
- Cycling in the time of COVID by Cycle Toronto
- Petition in support of street rebalancing in London, ON