Cycling advocates call for more pedestrian space, temporary bike lanes during pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo).

Cycling advocates call for more pedestrian space, temporary bike lanes during pandemic

An increase in foot traffic means transportation needs to be prioritized, advocates say

Cycling advocates are calling on the cities across the Capital Region to open more roadway space to pedestrians and cyclists during the pandemic.

With fewer cars on the street and less businesses open along main commercial areas, argued Corey Burger, spokesperson for the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition (GVCC), more people are taking to trails and sidewalks to get through their neighbourhoods, and to commute to any essential service jobs.

“On Sunday, for example, we saw the single busiest day of the year on the Galloping Goose Trail,” Burger said. “Usually Sunday is the slowest day of the week.”

The trails themselves can be narrow, meaning more space should be cordoned off near trail routes to allow for a spread of people to allow for social distancing.

Additionally, fewer people are inclined to take transit due to a restriction on social distancing, making cycling an alternative option.

READ ALSO: Victoria sees Canada’s first bicycle mayor

Opening up public space could look like using pylons to create temporary bike lanes throughout the region, says bicycle mayor Susan Stokhof.

“I think we need to open up one of the lanes on Douglas Street or Blanshard Street or somewhere in the city centre, and ideally it’s separated so everyone has enough space,” Stokhof said. “Cars don’t need to be in there right now because everything is closed, so why not cut transportation off except for what’s essential?”

Stokhof added that some of the protected bikes lanes in downtown Victoria are too narrow to begin with, let alone to allow people to practise social distancing.

“Having other options would keep people from funneling down one lane,” she said.

Burger suggested space should also be added around high-traffic areas, such as grocery stores.

READ ALSO: City asks horse carriages, bikes to share portion of downtown Victoria bike lane

He added that additional methods could be implemented across the region to help foot traffic stay healthy, including transitioning pedestrian-activated crosswalks to automatic crosswalks so people don’t need to touch the activation button.

“Every intersection that has the infrastructure in place for an activation button has the infrastructure to make it automatic, it just takes a flip of a switch,” he said.

Both Burger and Stokhof have written letters to Victoria council in regards to these measures, but have so far not received a response.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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