COVID-19 has made the world seem smaller for many of us. Our daily commute is often to the back yard or a wellness walk around the block. We are driving a great deal less than we were, and we still have all the same road infrastructure. It’s just not being used as much. Maybe this is an opportunity for us to rethink how we can better utilize it in this time of changed behaviours.
A time for courageous creativity
We could take advantage of the underutilized streets around PEI and set in place additional active transportation lanes. We could encourage and support healthy activities like biking and walking by turning some streets into safer and more easily accessible active transportation routes. Some roads could be blocked off to vehicular traffic, while others could be turned into one-way streets thereby freeing up safe and fun lanes for alternative, active transportation.
Another option we could explore is opening up some additional real estate for restaurants and other businesses so they can expand into these lesser used spaces. This will enable them to expand and offer friendly experiences in this time of increased physical distancing requirements. Some of this extra road space could be used to create extra seating or product displays. I am sure our local businesses would appreciate and welcome some of that extra foot traffic.
From Lithuania to Newfoundland we are seeing these kinds of ventures being undertaken. Little, courageous and creative changes like this can create a major benefit to our local businesses while also offering a boost to our own collective physical and mental health.
Let’s be bold
We have been given a rare opportunity to rethink our way of doing things and to create a new, healthier way of living. If we don’t grab this chance now, when will a better opportunity come our way?
Steve Howard, MLA for District 22 Summerside-South Drive, is the Official Opposition Critic for Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy