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Street Space

Information about reallocation of street space for cycling and walking

Photo: Blair Smith, Urban Systems

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant more people are walking and cycling. The BCCDC recommends re-balancing streets in B.C. municipalities to support this change. If we repurpose public spaces now, we can sustain this strategy and have long-lasting population health impacts on walking and cycling.

Benefits of re-balancing streets

  • Space for appropriate physical distancing
  • Prevention of injuries through separation of active road users from motor vehicles 
  • Increased physical activity and positive mental well-being
  • Contribute to the economic viability of local businesses
  • Reduced social isolation and increased community connectedness
  • Improved air quality by reducing emissions from motor vehicles.

How-to guidance

COVID-19 Street Rebalancing Guide

  • From the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, this guide:
    • helps communities respond amid continuing COVID-19 transmission.
    • ensures safe public mobility as towns and cities re-open.
    • is intended for both decision-makers and practitioners.
    • demonstrates how to temporarily redesign streets to ensure physical health, mental health, safety and well-being.
    • includes a toolkit of immediate and longer-term response strategies and treatments.

Reallocation of Roadway Space for Physical Distancing

  • From the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
    • These guidelines help local governments design temporary treatments for active transportation opportunities.

Key considerations for re-balancing streets

  • Address gaps in the active transportation network
    • Including sidewalks, bicycle routes, and off-street pathways.
  • Make sure people feel safe
    • Scientific literature suggests safety as a motivator (or deterrent) for active transportation.
    • COVID-19 safety is a new dimension to consider when designing or adapting spaces. Consider safety in active transportation, recreation, and queuing.
  • Address equity and vulnerable communities
    • Including racialized populations, people living with low income and those without vehicle access.
  • Promote universal accessibility
    • For older populations, children and people with reduced mobility.
  • Increase sidewalk widths beyond usual recommendations
    • Accommodate increased active mobility traffic.
    • Spacing required for physical distancing
    • Access to essential services, spaces, and transit.
  • Create a welcoming and inviting space
    • Use unique elements of local characteristics and history to strengthen community identity.
    • This can improve positive social interactions. It also helps build a special sense of place and shared culture for all users.
  • For more information, see the COVID-19 Street Rebalancing Guide.

Funding opportunities

Additional resources

SOURCE: Street Space ( )
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