Dear City Council, TAB, Jane, Tom and Transportation staff:
We wanted to make sure you’ve seen the excellent new publication “Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery” from NACTO, the National Association of City Transportation Officials, of which Boulder is a member. It captures emerging practices from cities across the U.S. and around the world and it could be very helpful as Boulder looks to reallocate street space to support equitable and environmentally sound economic recovery. Of particular interest are the guidelines for “slow streets” on pp. 22-23. Guidance for sidewalks, curbside delivery and outdoor dining are also included. These lessons from other cities that are moving quickly could be very useful in Boulder. In particular, they may help staff overcome concerns about technical requirements and legal and liability issues.
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC), which is funded through the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is also supporting street closures to promote social distancing. They created a database that lists over 521 actions being taken by cities in the US and world-wide to make walking, biking and social distancing safer during the pandemic.
You will see cities similar to Boulder, such as Madison, WI and Burlington, VT, that have created “slow streets” for bicyclists and pedestrians. You will also see slow streets in places that wouldn’t be thought of as progressive on transportation issues, such as Nashville, Kansas City, and Salt Lake City among many, many others. Of note, Portland, OR has opened its Neighborhood Green Streets to local, emergency and delivery traffic only.
You will also note that NACTO, PBIC and countless cities’ legal departments have signed off on simple and inexpensive barricade and street closure methods. All these municipalities are bound by the same rules as Boulder. We are calling around to different cities to check with their legal departments to see how they were able to approve a greater variety of barricades. As we do that we’ll leave you with a photo of the barricades in Seattle, on a street that looks like Boulder, that was approved with a “very thorough vetting” from the Seattle city attorney’s office.
Thank you for your service to keep people safe and our community healthy and successful during this pandemic.
Community Cycles Advocacy Committee
Attachment: “Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery” National Association of City Transportation Officials