FCM releases guide for cities to rebalance streets

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

As cities continue responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has released a new guide to help them effectively modify urban streets to support safe commuting, commerce and exercise.

The COVID-19 Street Rebalancing Guide is a product of FCM’s The Urban Project, which convenes a wide spectrum of voices to tackle urban challenges. The guide itself flows from weeks of engagement with city officials and thought leaders from across Canada.

“Municipal leaders are working flat-out to keep Canadians safe and well served through this pandemic, and adapting public streets is a big part of that,” said FCM president Bill Karsten. “As cities carefully reopen, there are smart ways we can support physical distancing, altered commuting patterns, and rising demand for space to get out and walk, run or ride.”

This tool is designed for decision makers and practitioners alike. With case studies from around the world, it offers strategies and practical guidance on rebalancing streets through three phases of COVID-19 response—from immediate to longer term. It explores installations ranging from bike lanes and curbside queuing areas to temporary patios and parklets.

COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of city life, and these impacts are not felt equally. Women and lower-income communities, for instance, both disproportionately rely on public transit, walking and cycling to access services and employment. That makes the guide a helpful tool for cities bringing an equity lens to their response and reopening plans.

“This crisis is unprecedented, so we’re all learning as we go, and this guide helps cities learn from each other,” said Karsten. “It also helps us all see the bigger opportunity here. If today’s temporary measures can build support for more permanent installations, this can be phase one of building more walkable, livable cities across Canada.”

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