How can cities encourage people to get outside, move with comfort, and have fun while staying safe and maintaining social distancing? By re-allocating road space for people!
On May 11, 2020, the City of New Westminster passed the Streets for People in 2020 motion, which City Staff to accelerate already planned reallocations of road space. Streets for People in 2020 was an initiative to support more lingering, walking, wheeling, and biking on streets, sidewalks, greenways and in business areas of New Westminster. Together with a number of partners, including HUB Cycling, Marco Pasqua Enterprises and Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, Happy City worked as prime consultant to accelerate City initiatives to increase the use of sustainable modes of transportation, and work toward reallocating 10% of the city’s road space to sustainable transportation modes by 2030. While the City of New Westminster has implemented several transportation initiatives since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SfP2020 project consisted of seven key interventions. Visit the City’s website to learn more.
- Happy City engaged over 400 people through our pop-ups.
- The 11 in-person activities were attended by approximately 750 people, raising awareness about the project, without a single COVID-19 transmission.
- Our innovative pop-ups included numerous fun activities, including a family cycling course and bike tune-up station, to draw in onlookers.
- In addition to our pop-ups, we conducted focused engagement with folks from equity-seeking and seldom-heard communities.
- Groups we prioritized for focused engagement included: seniors, youth, BIPOC people, recent immigrants, and people with diverse mobility needs, among others.
Public Life Study
Isolation has emerged as a critical public health issue due to the pandemic. Creating public spaces that allow people to socialize safely have become essential for people’s wellbeing. Our public life study, which combines observations and surveys, found that the SFP interventions successfully supported much-needed social interaction in comparison to the control sites.
- When asked “if they would meet friends here,” Female-identifying respondents found the intervention sites more sociable in comparison to men; 75% of agreed they would meet friends there compared to 62% at control sites. For men, it was 73% at both intervention and control sites.
- When asked “I feel safe visiting this place alone,” 85% of BIPOC and White residents agreed at intervention sites, as opposed to just 56% at the control sites.
- When asked if “this location reflects my community,” 70% agreed at intervention sites as opposed to 55% at control sites, indicating that SFP2020 sites fostered greater meaning and belonging amongst respondents.
In line with the findings above, people also reported a greater sense of safety and trust at the intervention sites than at the control sites. They were more likely to feel that a stranger would return a lost wallet at these sites, and they were more likely to feel safe visiting these sites alone. These findings indicate that the interventions were supporting peoples’ sense of safety, which is an important building block for sociability, meaning, and belonging.
New Projects in New West
In addition to SFP2020, the Happy City will also be collaborating with the City of New Westminster on their Agnes Greenway and Crosstown Greenway projects.
We are excited to announce that the City of New Westminster won the HUB Cycling Biggest Leap Forward award on February 8th 2021. We are proud to have collaborated with the City, Hub Cycling, Pasqua Consulting, and BEST to deliver this project. Additionally, Streets for People in 2020 has also been shortlisted for the Sustainable Mobility Award presented by the Transportation Association of Canada. Stay tuned for an announcement this spring!
Happy City worked as prime consultant, together with HUB Cycling, Pasqua Consulting and the City of New Westminster to deliver this project. Together, we developed an implementation plan, conducted a public life study, engaged people through pop-ups and focused engagement, and hosted activation events to raise public awareness and support for the Streets for People in 2020 initiative. You can download the executive summary of the project here.
We would like to acknowledge that this initiative took place on the traditional and unceded territory of the Halq’eméylem speaking peoples.