Shared pathways designed for physical distancing to be dismantled, city says

Shared pathways designed to help Edmontonians safely keep their distance on city streets this summer will soon be dismantled. 

In an announcement posted to the city website on Thursday, transportation officials said dismantling the shared pathways will better support increased traffic congestion this fall and cut down on maintenance costs this winter.

City crews will begin removing lane closures on September 29 and begin dismantling the shared streets on October 27. 

The shared pathways were erected in April and May to give pedestrians more space to socially distance. City officials were growing increasingly concerned about crowding in city parks and the river valley trail networks as the rates of COVID-19 in the city increased.

Prompted by boredom and public health messaging that touted the benefits of outdoor exercise during the pandemic, crowds of walkers, stair-runners and cyclists packed green spaces across Edmonton this spring.

Soon after, the city declared a state of emergency and the shared pathways were constructed in high density neighbourhoods across the city.

Ten stretches of road were modified, with driving lanes converted into space for pedestrians and cyclists. Another 23 areas were turned into shared streets, where drivers, pedestrians and cyclists shared the road with a reduced speed limit of 20 km/h.

The city said the lanes will close for winter but could return in the spring. 

“Removing these adjustments supports increased vehicle traffic with back to school and return to work, and considers increased costs and maintenance requirements due to upcoming winter conditions,” reads the statement. 

“A number of lessons were learned through the shared streets and lane closures implemented in 2020 

“These experiences have provided many considerations that will be explored further when looking at opportunities for 2021.”

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