Blocked off portion of Memorial Drive reopens to vehicle traffic on weekdays

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As of Tuesday, vehicles were allowed back on the previously closed stretch of Memorial Drive. Data collected by the city has shown that more cyclists and pedestrians have taken advantage of the Memorial Drive road closure on weekends.

“The lane was put in to provide physical distancing during the pandemic and what we’re seeing now is that need still exists on the weekends when those pathways are quite busy, but during the week we’re not seeing as many users,” said City of Calgary roads spokeswoman Tara Norton-Merrin.

She said traffic has resumed to near normal levels along the route, with 93 per cent of usual volumes seen before September.

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Kids take advantage of the wide open lanes on the south side of Memorial Drive after the city opened them to bikes and pedestrians to help with social distancing on Saturday, March 28, 2020. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

“We expect to see a further increase,” Norton-Merrin said.

“With kids going back to school, people will probably be returning to work, so the decision was made to remove the adaptive roadway. There is still pathways and sidewalks in that area for cyclists and pedestrians to use. Based on our data, we believe that they can use those safely.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi called it “pragmatic” to keep lane closures in place during the weekend while reopening the road to cars throughout the rest of the week.

“I think this all has to be focused on data,” he said.

“I happened to drive on Memorial Drive (Tuesday) during rush hour . . . and there were lots of people on the pathway and there were lots of cars and, you know what? It worked fine. There wasn’t any crowding in either place. We’re just going to be thoughtful about this.”

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