D.C. council members Mary Cheh (Ward 3), Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) and Charles Allen (Ward 6) penned an open letter addressing Mayor Muriel Bowser, asking her administration to close or narrow some public streets to motor vehicles so that pedestrians and cyclists can use them safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
“As you know, traffic in the District is at an unprecedented low, creating an environment that encourages speeding; on the other hand, there has been an increase in the number of residents using our sidewalks and public space during this period for exercise and essential errands,” said the letter that was published on Friday.
The three council members explained in the letter that road closures are necessary in order for residents to be able to maintain proper social distancing while using sidewalks and public spaces.
We are in great need of an extensive network of safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists—and this is a need that predates #coronavirus.
— Mary M. Cheh (@marycheh) May 15, 2020
“This could be accomplished through the closure of entire blocks to vehicular traffic, or simply the closure of certain lanes,” the letter continued, adding that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) should identify public spaces (streets or corridors) that are convenient for closing or narrowing to provide the needed room for social distancing.
According to Cheh, Allen and Nadeau, the new practice would play a significant role in curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus around the District, in addition to helping residents more safely access outdoor spaces.
They also attached an amendment to the Coronavirus Support Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act, which the Council will be discussing Tuesday, to their letter.
A number of cities such as Seattle, Denver, Charlotte, New York and Oakland have started closing some of their streets to motor vehicle traffic after the coronavirus-related disease COVID-19 broke out.