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Vancouver mulls street closures to make physical distancing easier for pedestrians
VANCOUVER -- The City of Vancouver is exploring the idea of closing some streets to vehicle traffic to allow people to walk for exercise and keep physical distance.
“We are looking at this as an option but no decisions have been made,” a spokesperson with the city said.
B.C.'s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained it is safe to go outside to get fresh air, walk pets, ride a bike and exercise while maintaining safe physical distances.
However, this only applies if you are not ill.
“Yes, you can go outside but go only with your family members in small groups, maintain those distances," Henry said during Monday's daily virus briefing. "It is important for us to keep our health and mental health going as well through this."
Health officials recommend people stay two metres from others when outside.
Vancouver's street closure idea is already being mulled in other jurisdictions, including New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed on Twitter this week that council is working to "start opening a limited number of streets to pedestrians, joggers and cyclists.”
Locally, the idea is welcomed by pedestrian advocate and former city planner Sandy James.
“Even when you look at our sidewalks, our standard for sidewalks is 1.2 meters wides and right now for physical distancing we are asked for two meters,” she said.
The city did not mention when a decision could be made or which streets are being looked at for potential closures.
Meanwhile, cycling advocates in Vancouver are also supportive of the idea, as many have already been practicing the concept of riding alone.
“That is a meme, a hashtag now but a reality,” said Colin Stein with BC Cycling Coalition.
He also warns against taking up cycling as a habit to stay in shape if you aren’t experienced.
“If you don’t have the skills, the background, you are not familiar, or even if you have a bike that hasn’t been used in a year and are not sure if it is road ready, don’t take the chance,” Stein said.