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Medical and health experts agree that being active outside is crucial to maintaining physical and mental health—as long as we keep 6 feet of distance between each other amid coronavirus.
But social distancing is hard when so many more people are using sidewalks, trails, and parks.
That’s where open streets can help.
Open streets, which close streets to vehicle traffic, create more outdoor space for people to walk, bike, roll, and stay active and socially distant during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sign a petition by the Rails to Trails Conservancy to urge local leaders to close select streets to car traffic, and open them for human activity during this global pandemic!
The Growing Need for Open Streets
Unfortunately, in response, some cities are closing trails and parks.
This makes it even harder for many people, including Latinos, to access safe places to be active.
Open streets are a solution, according to the Rails to Trails Conservancy.
“It’s becoming painstakingly clear that every American needs safe, immediate access to the outdoors,” they write. “Our country’s local elected officials have the power to make this happen.”
Unlike typical open streets initiatives where the emphasis is on programming and socializing, cities are repurposing the open streets model to expand public space for walking, biking, and playing.
For example, Randy LoBasso pushed leaders to open a street in Philadelphia.
You can take action, too!
Add a Personalized Message for Open Streets
In addition to adding your name to the petition, you can also personalize a message.
These four steps may help you:
- State your request to close select streets to car traffic and open them for people walking, biking, and rolling to create more outdoor space during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Describe who you are. Include some personal information.
- Summarize how you, your family or community are affected by limited outdoor space.
- Re-state your request to create more outdoor space during the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting open streets with no car traffic.
For example, here is a sample message:
I am emailing to urge you to create more safe outdoor places by closing select streets to car traffic.
I live in [CITY] by myself and am helping babysit my niece and nephew because my sister is an essential worker. As you can imagine, keeping two kids entertained in an apartment is difficult. So, I’ve been driving them to the trail a couple times a week. Our regular playground is on the way, but I know that isn’t safe right now.
It’s crazy to see how empty our roads are and how busy our parks and trails are right now.
Even our sidewalks are busy. I have to decide between stepping in the street (when no cars are coming) or stepping on someone’s private property in order to maintain six feet between passersby.
I worry that crowding in parks and trails will lead to them being closed.
Before that happens, our city should help create more outdoor space for people to spread out.
Please consider closing some streets to vehicles and opening them to people, like my family, to safely get outdoors while practicing social/physical distancing. I think this is what will make the city safer right now and healthier in the long-run.