Make Downtown “Active Transportation First”

This Letter to the Editor ran in this morning’s Guardian (paywall):

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.


Khürt Louis Williams's picture
Khürt Louis Williams on April 23, 2020 - 08:48 Permalink

It might work if all stakeholders are informed (pros and cons) and agree.

Joanne MacRae's picture
Joanne MacRae on April 23, 2020 - 12:23 Permalink

Hi Peter, That's a great suggestion! A good start might be to designate Sundays as car free days and extend it from there.

Don Stewart's picture
Don Stewart on April 24, 2020 - 06:14 Permalink

I love this idea Peter!

Kevin's picture
Kevin on May 29, 2020 - 20:09 Permalink

I have been watching for an update on your proposition. It's been slightly more than a week. I have also noticed news stories about cities that are using this time and these circumstances to rethink non-vehicular options for streets, blocks, areas. Shared and unshared. Unless I missed it, Charlottetown has been silent on this, seeming to be worrying about the AirBnB policy, concern about too many people working from home (instead of coming downtown with their cars in most cases), free parkades, dragging out discussions on patios in parking spaces (seeming to favour parking), and an underpass on University Ave at Enman. Are there any signs that they are rethinking the downtown in the context of active transportation?