Cities and transportation agencies across the nation and around the world have taken action to rapidly respond and adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways. Strategies to mitigate the spread of the virus have ranged from waiving public transit fares to automating pedestrian crossing buttons.
Over the past 6 months, many cities have also embraced measures to close or limit through traffic on select streets to create more space for people to go outside and get fresh air while practicing safe physical distancing. These shared-street approaches have taken on a variety of names: Slow Streets, Open Streets, Healthy Streets. As you might imagine, we’ve been following these trends very closely since the start, paying attention to how the programs were implemented and how they were being received by the community.
After seeing photos of DIY barricades and signage created by Tucsonans and hearing stories of so many more people being out on foot and on bike with their families, we began working with the Tucson Department of Transportation and Mobility to explore a Slow Streets program for Tucson, encouraging them to move quickly while the stay-at-home order was in effect and people needed space close to home to recreate.
In early May, a pilot program finally got off the ground, called Tucson Slow Streets/Calles Lentas. The initial segments included:
- Feldman’s Neighborhood on N. 4th Ave. from Speedway to Grant
- Barrio Sin Nombre on Tucson’s west side
- Fairgrounds Neighborhood along the Michigan St. / Fair Ave. Bicycle Boulevard
Knowing that there were still many neighborhoods wanting and needing a way to calm traffic on their streets, LSA continued advocating for an expanded Slow Streets program, seeing alignment with CARES Act funding goals and on July 7th Tucson Mayor & Council adopted a budget in which $1.4 million was earmarked for a larger Tucson Slow Streets/Calles Lentas initiative. The program aims to activate and transform up to 20 miles of city streets by the end of 2020. Check out the details on their website.