Coun. Steve Roddick in Whitehorse on November 25, 2019. As more people get around on foot and bike, while also physical distancing, Roddick is wondering about the possibility of providing more space for that to happen. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Councillor queries making room for more active transportation

Physical distancing making some trails more difficult to use

As more people get around on foot and bike, while also physical distancing, one city councillor is wondering about the possibility of providing more space for that to happen.

Coun. Steve Roddick broached the issue at council’s April 20 meeting. Like many he’s been making use of active transportation routes like the Millennium Trail to get around town.

Many are putting in the effort to practise physical distancing while also getting some fresh air and exercise. With school out, the city has put up signs at popular spots like the Millennium Trail to remind users to stay six feet (or a caribou length) away from others who are not in the same household, but there are some areas where there’s limited space and it’s difficult to practise that distance, Roddick said.

He cited one portion of the Millennium Trail that runs next to Robert Service Way he described as “a problem for people” where pedestrians are choosing to walk on the road instead of the trail due to the number of people already on the trail and physical distancing recommendations.

Roddick then went on to note there’s a few cities Outside that are taking action to deal with the same situations in their communities, converting traffic lanes for active transportation routes.

He pointed out the city has already suspended parking metre enforcement until the health emergency declaration has ended and there’s less traffic around town given the number of business, office and school closures.

Roddick suggested Main Street could be one roadway where there “may be a chance to experiment” with allowing more space for active transportation within a road lane. City manager Linda Rapp said the city is aware of some of the actions being taken by other jurisdictions to open up space for active transportation at this time, in light of the physical distancing measures.

She noted a resident had sent a similar recommendation into the city for consideration and the parks and engineering departments are “looking at it to see what’s feasible.”

Rapp also pointed to the signs that have been put in place to remind residents of physical distancing as well as the redeployment of bylaw constables to local trails to provide education about it. She also emphasized the city’s continued efforts to keep in contact with the territory’s chief medical officer of health on recommendations as the territory continues to deal with COVID-19.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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