As spring arrives and we all spend more time outside, those of us who live in downtown Charlottetown are awakening to a very changed urban landscape, where there are more pedestrians, wheelchairs and bicycles than there are vehicles.
We’re discovering that, suddenly, we have the wrong kind of streetscape for the times: vast swathes of pavement devoted to the absent automobiles, while we all crowd together on the sidewalks and sides of the streets.
And so I have a proposal: during the time of this pandemic, let’s declare the streets of Charlottetown, from Grafton Street to the water, as an “active transportation first” zone. Encourage vehicles, other than those of residents and those making deliveries, to stay out of the area. Lower the speed limit to 20 km/h. And allow wheelchairs, bicycles and pedestrians to freely and safely use the streets, to get the exercise and fresh air that we all need so much.
We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to experiment with what a car-free downtown might look like; let’s take this horrible pandemic and try and leverage the slivers of opportunity it offers us.
I’m hopeful that this will happen in the next week.