HUB Cycling partnered with the City of New Westminster on Streets for People events in 2020, including an event on and near the McInnis overpass | Photos: Contributed/New West Record File

HUB Cycling is awarding the City of New Westminster with its Biggest Leap Award for initiatives that improve local cycling.

 The 2021 HUB Cycling Bike Awards is a celebration of organizations and individuals that are making biking better across Metro Vancouver. The City of New Westminster will receive its Biggest Leap Award at the eighth annual HUB Bike Awards, which are taking place (virtually) on Monday, Feb. 22.

Lisa Leblanc, the city’s transportation manager, told the Record the city is honoured to win the award that’s in recognition of the “big leap” the city made in 2020 to support cycling and to advance cycling safety and cycling infrastructure.  She noted the work was done as part of the Streets for People transportation initiative.

In May 2020, city council adopted the Streets for People motion as a way to address the shifts in use of public space and physical distancing directives brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to accelerate the city’s commitment to sustainable transportation and road space reallocation.

“We’re committed to increasing the use of sustainable modes of transportation in New Westminster by making our streets safe and accessible for all road users,” Mayor Jonathan Cote said in a press release. “We’re honoured to be recognized for HUB’s Biggest Leap award because it shows we’re moving in the right direction towards our climate goals.”

In November 2019, city council approved Seven Bold Steps on climate action, which included efforts to create a car-light community (with the goal of seeing 60% of all trips within the city made by sustainable modes of transportation, such as walking, transit, bike an multi-occupant vehicles, by 2030). It also aims to create a quality people-centred public realm, with the goal of reallocating 10% of today’s street space for sustainable transportation or public gathering by 2030.

Moving faster

Coun. Patrick Johnstone put forward the Streets for People motion, saying COVID-19 physical distancing directives exposed the critical need for greater and more accessible pedestrian, active transportation and public gathering spaces in the city. He urged the city to be “visionary and ambitious” while the opportunity exists.

“We have already set a goal for 2030 to reallocate 10% of road space as one of the bold steps. In light of the current events and how we are seeing space being used, the 2030 timeline for that no longer feels as bold as it did,” he said in May 2020. “I think we can really show some leadership regionally and nationally by resetting the timeline for that work, to accelerate what we have been doing with temporary measures and aggressively doing that work in 2020, with the mind that these ideas can be made permanent as capital budget and as recovery allows.”

Some of the changes that took place under the Streets for People initiative include: closing the northbound motor vehicle lane to vehicles on the McInnis overpass and designating it for walking and cycling; opening Front Street to walking and cycling every weekend throughout the summer; and installing parklets in uptown, downtown and on 12th Street. Other initiatives include placing shared lane markings, or “sharrow,” on several streets throughout the city that help alert drivers to cyclists on shared roads while guiding people as they ride along bike routes.

The city has also begun work on the interim greenway treatment as part of the Agnes Greenway project, which will include a two-way protected bicycle lane for cyclists, improved sidewalks for people walking, and new landscaping, trees and street furniture including benches.

New West Record

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