Create temporary walking and cycling space
April 8, 2020
Vancouver, BC - HUB Cycling calls on Metro Vancouver municipalities to install temporary facilities for walking and cycling, using currently under-utilized roadway spaces. Metro Vancouver municipalities have an opportunity to make it easier and safer for residents to walk and cycle around their city.
The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in massive impacts on the way we move around. Transit vehicles run nearly empty, and most roadways have few motor vehicles on them.
People have returned to the simplest modes, walking and cycling, to get to essential businesses or just to get some exercise. However, with the increase in people walking and biking, it can be difficult to maintain adequate distance, especially on crowded bicycle facilities or narrow sidewalks.
“We need to ensure people have safe spaces to walk and cycle - away from motor vehicles while also allowing social distancing to occur. Pop up or temporary bicycle facilities are a way to do just that and are recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials,” said Evan Hammer, Infrastructure Planning and Policy Manager at HUB Cycling.
Many cities are doing this - installing temporary facilities for people biking and/or walking. Calgary is planning to close roads to vehicle traffic on the weekends to allow people to get outside while maintaining social distancing. Minneapolis is closing roads to vehicles and opening to people walking. Bogota, Columbia installed 76 kilometers of temporary bikeways.
Temporary bike lanes in Bogota, Columbia. Photo Cred: FERNANDO VERGARA/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The cost of not taking action can have a large impact. Without adequate protection, an increase in people cycling can have a corresponding increase in injuries. In New York, cyclist injuries in NY went up 43% between March 9 and 15th. Providing protected spaces for people walking and biking reduces the risk of collisions with motor vehicles, keeping people out of the ER and allowing the health care system to focus on patients with COVID-19.
HUB’s State of Cycling Report released February 2020 in partnership with Translink notes that in areas where the cycling network has grown and improved, the rate of collisions involving people who cycle has dropped, and cycling trips have increased significantly.
“The massive decrease in car traffic during quarantine is going to make cycling and walking more appealing, and much safer. Swift action by local municipalities in creating temporary bike lanes will help deliver a much-needed behavior change to encourage more people to adopt cycling and walking as their main mode of transportation for their daily commute,” said Navdeep Chhina, Acting Executive Director of HUB Cycling.
This crisis is unprecedented, and this is an opportunity to envision alternative ways to move around. This pandemic has created a moment to acknowledge the significance of the ways in which active transportation modes, especially cycling, enable us to safely and resiliently navigate our cities while maintaining social and physical distancing.