May 14, 2020
Mayor Eisenberger and Members of Council,
COVID-19 has presented innumerable challenges to Hamiltonians, who have stood together to flatten the curve and maintain healthy and safe communities. The most effective tool at our disposal is continued physical distancing practices to prevent the spread of the virus. However, physical distancing poses a unique challenge for vulnerable road users as sidewalks and bike lanes do not allow for the necessary 6 feet of distance between individuals as recommended by the City of Hamilton. In order to provide safe transportation options while meeting the guidelines set by the Emergency Operations Centre, we must create additional spaces for people to walk and bike safely.
We have seen cities from across the globe recognize and address this barrier, which disproportionately impacts our poor and most vulnerable. There are 189 cities and counting documented worldwide by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. This is also being practiced in locations across Canada including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Winnipeg – and within Ontario in Toronto, Kitchener, Brampton, London, and others. Leading cities are taking meaningful actions by fast-tracking the construction of permanent cycling infrastructure, rebalancing streets by creating additional space for walking and cycling, and closing streets to motor vehicles.
With warmer weather around the corner and the re-opening of businesses and facilities beginning this week, we will see a greater demand for these limited spaces. As Burlington Councillor Shawna Stolte recently highlighted in their road closure motion, results from an Angus Reid Poll showed that 53% of respondents reported “going for more walks” and 26% reported “taking up extra exercise” in recent weeks. Walking or cycling is a primary mode of transportation for many, it is a practice in mental and physical well-being, and it is recommended by experts and the City of Hamilton.
On May 1, Mayor Fred Eisenberger responded to a local resident offering to hear potential areas of risk to be reviewed. This received an outpour of creative ideas, specific examples, and personal experiences from community members. The Hamilton community is here to engage and support. Public calls have been made by many residents, business owners, and local musicians. Please hear these recommendations and act by providing the safe space that Hamiltonians need and deserve.
Chelsea Cox and Jay Krause
Co-Chairs, Board of Directors