Do Saskatoon cyclists need more space amid COVID-19? Some city councillors weigh in

Click to play video: 'Saskatoon Cycles calls for more space to bike outside amid COVID-19'
Saskatoon Cycles calls for more space to bike outside amid COVID-19
WATCH: Saskatoon Cycles is calling on the city to make more space available for cyclists and pedestrians – Apr 13, 2020

Cyclists in Saskatoon are calling on the city to open up more space for people and bikes, claiming there isn’t enough room on city sidewalks to walk or ride while social distancing occurs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cathy Watts still rides her bike outside while staying at least six feet from anyone else, but she said she’s noticed not everyone is doing that.

“I’m really worried about the safety of people wanting to spread out and get exercise,” said Watts, chairperson of Saskatoon Cycles.

“They really need to do that for their physical and mental health, and when they get out there we’re going to be in conflict again.”

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Saskatoon Cycles published an open letter calling for the city to free up space for people going outside. For example: opening part of some roads to pedestrians only.

“We ask that the City of Saskatoon adjust as many streets and roadways as is feasible, to accommodate more pedestrians and cyclists, and enable them to maintain safe physical distancing,” the letter reads.

Unlike Watts, Coun. Cynthia Block said she’s seen more people making the effort to social distance in public.

“[Pedestrians] are moving into the roadways instead of staying on the sidewalk; it’s encouraging to see everyone trying to do the right thing,” she said.

“It does not appear that is doable in every situation at the moment.”

The city has already brought in a number of measures to encourage social distancing in public, Block points out, including closing city-owned playground structures and dog parks, and closing or restricting access on walking bridges.

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You can read a full list of city services, including what’s open and closed, here.

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Darren Hill, another city councillor, said he’s not interested in creating more new rules “for a problem that doesn’t exist.”

“I don’t want to create gathering spots,” he explained.

“If we are suggesting that everybody go use the Spadina Crescent [for example], that we are now saying that that’s the one corner for pedestrians and cyclists to be in and we’re putting a concentration of them into one spot.”

Block echoed this concern, though she said she’s looking forward to discussing this issue further with cyclists and her fellow councillors. She said safety needs to be the priority.

Saskatoon Cycles said it wants to see action sooner than later.

“We’ve been blessed with this really cold weather because people aren’t out as much, but boy oh boy once the spring hits … people are just going to blast out of their homes when the weather’s nice,” warmed Watts.

As of Monday morning the letter had over 150 signatures from concerned citizens across Saskatoon.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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