Coronavirus: Calgary group launches petition seeking more room for cyclists and pedestrians

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Coronavirus: Calgary group launches petition seeking more room for cyclists and pedestrians
WATCH: Project Calgary, a community initiative, has launched a petition aimed at making more room for cyclists and pedestrians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael King reports – May 6, 2020

As more Calgarians take to the city’s paths, streets and sidewalks, some are finding it difficult to properly social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Calgary has closed portions of some roads to give people extra space, but now one group is asking for that practice to be expanded.

Project Calgary has launched a petition asking the city to open up more streets to non-motorized transport only.

It points to the success of areas where lanes have been temporarily dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians.

“We are calling for the City of Calgary to create more space for people walking, running or cycling in more neighbourhoods across the city by temporarily widening sidewalks so we can maintain safe physical distances this summer,” the petition reads.

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“This is an easy, low-cost and responsible approach, which is particularly important during this time when people are forgoing other activities in order to limit the spread of the virus.”

The petition asks Calgarians to submit ideas on how other communities outside of downtown and Beltine could be improved in regards to pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.

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Support from Calgary cyclists

Gary Millard, president of Bike Calgary, said he supports the petition, adding that the increase in traffic along bike paths highlights an issue with current infrastructure.

“The current setup for our sidewalks and pathways is about 1.4 metres to 1.8 meters wide,” said Millard. “So even if you have two people passing each other on the far sides, that’s not enough space for the two-metre distancing.”

Millard hopes the idea of expanding the width of bike paths across Calgary resonates with people who may not have seen it as an issue in the past.

“Those areas obviously have the higher population density to begin with, so that’s a great place to start,” said Millard.

“But in your local community, if you travel around to the grocery store or even just get some exercise outside… why not free up some space?”

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Millard said if there are changes made to bike and pedestrian infrastructure, it should stay in place for the long term as a way to make Calgary more accessible to all modes of transport.

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