The City of Kitchener is responding to how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the ways residents use roadways – decreased vehicle traffic and an increased need for physical distancing for pedestrians and cyclists.
An interactive map of all active transportation and traffic calming measures can be found at bikekitchener.ca.
Hopefully you have come across these road closure signs around the neighbourhood in Mount Hope, midtown KW east! They turned up around late June and early July.
They have three aims:
- provide more space for physically – distanced active transportation (walking, cycling, rolling, etc)
- reduce the amount of traffic by limiting to local traffic only
- slow the speed of traffic with a barrier to give drivers a visual cue
From a Staff Report to City of Kitchener Council; June 22, 2020
Slow streets is a temporary change to city streets to create slower and safer neighbourhood streets that are more comfortable for walking, rolling, and biking. Streets designated as Slow Streets will not be fully closed to vehicle traffic, but will be closed to through traffic meaning only emergency vehicles, maintenance vehicles, delivery vehicles and people who live on the street are intended to have access. All users of the street must still follow the rules of the road, but by reducing traffic volume, it is safer for cyclists and vehicles to share the street while pedestrians can safely use the sidewalk and pass on the roadway as necessary to maintain physical distancing. Staff is working with neighbourhood associations to identify streets, as well recommending streets based on proposed neighbourhood bikeways in the draft Cycling and Trails Master Plan. Neighbourhood bikeways are quiet, local streets that can be enjoyed in a low-stress environment. Focusing on neighbourhood bikeways is a reflection that staff anticipate seeing higher numbers of local cyclists using these streets, and therefore the reduction in through traffic will make the street feel more comfortable for pedestrians and people cycling.You can find the full report here.
The City of Waterloo has enacted a similar initiative and just set up barriers and signs on Waterloo Street on Monday July 20.
I think I like Waterloo’s set up better… it looks less like a construction sign and more like an actual traffic calming situation. However, I do like that the City of Kitchener signs actually say ‘Road Closed – Local Traffic Only’.
Although, I think most people don’t really know what ‘local traffic only’ really means!
What do you think? Have you noticed a difference in traffic?
*Edited Wed July 22, 2020.