While 2020 will go down in history as the year of the pandemic, it should also be remembered as the year Calgarians became acutely aware of the importance of our local surroundings and our public spaces. Cycling has exploded as a recreational activity and been reinvented, with the City closing roads and lanes to allow people to benefit from socially distanced outdoor activities.
Calgary now has the chance to move forwards, not backwards, and to realize that no matter the time of year,
We can bank some of the benefits provided to date and enable Calgarian’s to enjoy our pathways safely and to continue the boom in local outdoor activities, which brings huge gains in overall well-being and allowing people taking back the streets and spaces. It’s the crisis that is the catalyst, but it’s the people that will make the changes permanent, and it’s now that we need to speak about how we feel about the “new now”.
Cycling as a mode of transport is in a new era. We now share what were originally designated cycle / pedestrian paths with a significant increase in pedestrian traffic, a boom in electric scooters, skaters, skateboarders and even recumbent and modified wheeled transportation. These are driven and powered by a diverse demographic of people, abilities and age, but we basically need more room and what we have in some places is simply overcrowded and unsafe.
And if we continue to rely on the fact that cohabitation with pedal, battery and foot power is sustainable and safe in certain areas, then as a City we are not seeing what’s happening nor are we evolving. These mostly carbon neutral methods of commuting, exercising (both body and brain) and recreational access to our outdoor spaces need to be re-thought. Why would we ever wish to revert back to congestion in our City after such an opportunity?
Historically we continued to build more roads, and we find more cars on the road, with more congestion and more pollution. But this has now changed with the pandemic, and the likely return to office for some will not happen again. So if we build more pathways and retained some of the opened lanes to facilitate safe segregation, we already know they will be used. Accessible, safe, open and well-maintained pathways will bring the generations to come out into our City and enable them to enjoy it more. Dovetailed into the City’s already visionary decision for the Green Line, we can begin the evolution of our City, cars free areas and into rapid transport, open air activities and usable safe pathways for all.
Our #Sharedstreets campaign is just the beginning in advocating for the revolution of access and navigation to, through and within our City. #Sharedstreets will seek to identify lane closures across the City, or where there is a need for the implementation of such, and advocate not only for their retention but their permanency.
Do we want to return to the City of yesterday?
Ok so how can we do this? Well not on our own!
Well we need your help.
We need the communities to act and for us to ramp up and support this by our advocacy, now!
Here is how you can help.
- Where are your Shared Street’s? Tell us more about how they are used, the community benefits and why they should be kept. We will then post these on our website and support this with letter to the City, Councilors and other advocacy groups who share a common goal. All under the banner of #Sharedstreets.
- Have you lost a #Sharedstreets lane? We can advocate for its reinstatement.
- Send us a map, pictures and any information you have about its use e.g. pedestrian, scooter, bikes, children etc. Is it segregated by cones or something more robust, does it have good access and egress, is it signposted?
And our supporting commitment will be:
- Review each case and reach out to you to discuss it.
- Issue a letter to the City and Wards for support.
- To follow up with you and those whom it’s been issued to.
- Provide any technical help or respond to any statistical questions asked.
- To share it with other advocacy groups and local stakeholders.
- Post each #Sharedstreets item to our website as well as social media sites on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Strava accounts.
So let’s get active!
Email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on this post and thank you for your ongoing and future support!
Nothing ever happened where no effort was done to get it. Don’t ignore this, get active!