Saskatoon

City of Saskatoon resists call to shut down some roads to allow cyclists, pedestrians to spread out

The City of Saskatoon says it will not be closing down streets to traffic in order to avoid congestion along city walking paths.

Saskatoon Cycles had asked for measure to allow people on Meewasin trails to spread out

The City of Saskatoon is resisting a call to shut down roads to street traffic near the Meewasin Valley Authority trails. (CBC News)

The City of Saskatoon says it will not be closing down streets to traffic in order to avoid congestion along city walking paths.

Earlier this week, Saskatoon Cycles asked the city to shut down some roadways to traffic in order to give people the chance to spread out and practice social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the city worries the measure would only make things worse.

"Closing select corridors intended to attract people to certain areas of the city, like the river valley or other popular locations, is contrary to the advice of health professionals," said Pamela Goulden-McLeod, Director of Emergency Management Organization in a news release.

"Street closures have actually had an opposite effect as happened in New York City, where large crowds were attracted to central locations until this was stopped." 

Saskatoon Cycles wrote an open letter to the city asking for the measure. It was signed by more than 100 people.

The group was concerned more and more people would be using the riverbank trails as the weather becomes warmer, making it more and more difficult to stay more than two metres apart from people.

It noted other cities, like Winnipeg and Edmonton, had shut down certain streets close to trails in order to solve the problem.

Saskatoon Cycles also proposed closing streets in a number of different neighbourhoods in an attempt to spread pedestrians out more.

So far, the City of Saskatoon said streets and trails have not been very congested as people continue to follow the public health order.

The city noted it is working on five bikeway paths throughout Saskatoon and will begin consultations on the Downtown Active Transportation Network next year.

The city said it also was automating crossings at 59 high-use pedestrian crossings in an attempt to stop people from touching activation buttons.

Officials plan to put up signs reminding people to not push the buttons.

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