British Columbia

City of Vancouver seeks feedback on 'slow streets' network

The City of Vancouver wants to know what's working and what's not with the 50 kilometres of streets it calmed to car traffic in an effort to promote more walking and cycling.

Traffic calming measures were put in place in several neighbourhoods to encourage walking, cycling

As part of its response to the pandemic, the City of Vancouver has calmed traffic on 50 kilometres of streets to encourage cycling and walking. It now wants people to undertake a survey about the project. (City of Vancouver)

The City of Vancouver wants to know what's working and what's not with the 50 kilometres of streets it calmed to car traffic in an effort to promote more walking and cycling.

It's asking residents to fill out a survey about the so-called "slow streets" so that staff can either improve or enhance the spaces.

"So far we've been hearing really positive things," said Paul Storer, director of transportation for Vancouver. "There are no immediate plans to remove them."

In mid-April the city began installing signs and traffic barriers on some neighbourhood streets outside the downtown core to allow for people to use the streets for cycling and walking.

The program is part of the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What we were really seeing was a lack of place for people to get out and exercise," said Storer.

The slow streets are in place in areas such as Grandview-Woodland and Mt. Pleasant to help prevent residents from crowding popular recreation sites like the seawall in Stanley Park.

Like many dense cities across the world, Vancouver is trying to find ways for people to move around outside while respecting physical distancing guidelines put in place to combat COVID-19.

City planners in Vancouver also said the pandemic is an opportunity to try out active transportation options. Storer said council has asked staff to reallocate up to 11 per cent of Vancouver roadways for things like slow streets.

He said that's why it's important that residents fill out the slow streets survey.

"We're trying to get feedback on them, kind of how they're going, what they're seeing out on the streets, are they working for them, are there improvements they'd like to see?" he said. "Did we miss some streets that really should be identified? That's going to inform some of what comes next."

Storer said the biggest complaint about the slow streets so far is that there is still too much vehicle traffic on them.

This month staff will add more signs and barriers to try to further reduce traffic.

A second survey

The city is also running another survey about street use called Making Streets for People, which overlaps with slow streets.

Making Streets for People encompasses other initiatives such as patio dining, pop-up plazas, and cycling routes.

With files from Justin McElroy

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