As summer turns to fall with winter on the horizon, the City of Edmonton will soon begin the process to dismantle the shared streets installed earlier this year to encourage physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Temporary shared streets were introduced in several areas around the city in April and May. They were set up particularly in high-density neighbourhoods as a way for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists to share the roads and safely spread out as more people got outside over the spring and summer months.
Beginning on Sept. 29, lane closures will be removed. Shared streets will remain open until Oct. 27, at which time they, too, will be removed.
Removing the shared streets will support increased vehicle traffic on the roads as more people head back to school and work, according to the city. They are also being removed to cut down on costs to maintain the shared-use streets during the winter.
Due to limited resources through the pandemic, a spokesperson with the city said limited data was collected related to the usage of the shared streets, and that the data differs extensively depending on the locations.
While the city said the data and has not yet been fully analyzed, a partnership study with the University of Alberta showed that the widening of the shared-use portion along Saskatchewan Drive led to a 52.4 per cent reduction in physical distancing violations. Along Victoria Promenade, the street changes led to a 24.5 per cent reduction in violations, according to the study.
It’s not yet known if the shared streets will return next year. The city said the positive experience along the streets has provided “many considerations” that will be explored when making plans for 2021.
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