Physical distancing lane quiety removed from Richmond Row
LONDON, ONT -- As suddenly as it arrived, it’s gone. Just six weeks after city hall closed a traffic lane along Richmond Row to permit space for physical distancing, the pylons and signs were quietly removed Tuesday.
Most cyclists were left weaving along the sidewalk with only the bravest using the curb lane along Richmond Row after city hall unexpectedly removed a safe distancing lane.
“I came out here to go to the skate park, I looked and was like, where are all the pylons?” said cyclist Brian Burke.
On June 19, city administration used temporary authority during the pandemic to create this safe distancing space because Richmond Row’s narrow sidewalks which were becoming increasingly crowded.
Cyclists and pedestrians praised the move but many merchants pushed back saying city hall never consulted with them before taking away street parking and loading zones vital to their businesses.
Pedestrian Michael Jutte says Stage 3 of reopening has only increased the need for more space along Richmond.
“There’s easily groups of up to 20 people passing by who walk down this road,” said Jutte.
London’s Director of Roads and Transportation says the number of people using the lane didn’t justify its continuation.
“It wasn’t getting used a whole lot. I think that’s a function of the design of the street and how it has a barrier curb and the gaps to accommodate transit. It just doesn’t lend itself to being a shared space in a great way,” said Doug MaCrae.
City staff add there were some lessons learned. Of note, using orange cones to close the lane gave the impression that this was a construction project, and if they were to try this elsewhere in the future, they would use more aesthetically pleasing barriers.
Some cyclists argue usage dropped after city hall made this revision to reopen some loading zones. It fragmented the lane making it less functional.
Adding city hall first failed to consult businesses before creating the space and now failed to consult pedestrians and cyclists before removing it.
“I feel like they should have consulted with the cyclists and everybody else, not just the businesses,” said Burke.
While Richmond Street is back to four traffic lanes, city hall will close three blocks of Dundas Place to vehicles at various points this weekend.