The return of sunny weather came just in time for new motor-vehicle limits starting today in hopes of making it easier for people getting out of the house to safely maintain social distancing.

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The return of sunny weather came just in time for new motor-vehicle limits starting today in hopes of making it easier for people getting out of the house to safely maintain social distancing.

As of Monday, Lyndale Drive, Scotia Street, Wellington Crescent and Wolseley Avenue will limit motor-vehicle traffic daily to one block from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The new restrictions, originally announced by City of Winnipeg emergency operations manager Jason Shaw on March 31, is an expansion of designated bicycle and active transportation routes that arein place on Sundays and holidays from June to September.

Signage warning motorists of the restrictions began going up on Scotia Street Monday, which saw its own share of walkers, some of whom took to the roads. Derek Dexter, a Luxton resident, called the restrictions "a great idea."

"My wife and I actually thought of it about two days before the city implemented it," he said. "In the summer this is always closed on Sundays, so people are used to using it as a bike path and a walking path."

While he said he had seen "the odd group" still mingling, the neighbourhood seemed to have picked up the message of physical distancing.

"For the most part, I’ve seen people changing sides of the street and jumping from the sidewalk to the street to keep their distance," he said.

He said he hoped the restrictions would expand beyond a few Winnipeg streets.

"I think they could implement this on other streets in the city as well, just to give you that space to walk," he said. "We often find we’re walking and trying to zig-zag from one side to the other to keep that social distancing, and if the whole street is closed down it just makes that easier."

Shaw said in the original announcement that expanding routes eventually was not off the table.

"We need to balance this approach out to make sure that it works first, and we know these routes are familiar," he said.

Andrea Janzen, a school psychologist out for a walk on her lunch break, said that familiarity would likely mean the restrictions wouldn’t affect the traffic activity on the street.

"I don’t know what the people feel like who live here on this particular street," she said. "This street doesn’t get a lot of traffic anyways, I don’t know that it will really change a lot."

However, she said she hopes it sends a message to drivers.

"I’m going to walk this street regardless, whether there’s a road blockade or not," she said. "I think it’s probably just good for people who are out driving who are not from the area to be aware that they need to be more cautious."

Jane Casey, an instructor at the University of Manitoba, said she hadn’t heard about the blockades going up but was used to them in the neighbourhood.

"If people can walk down the middle of the road, and be able to have that comfortable distance, that would be a good thing," she said.

While she said the restrictions would likely encourage her to walk more, she attributed the increased number of walkers to the weather rather than the reduced traffic.

"Yesterday, there were a lot out, more than I would typically see, but I think it was that we’d just had two days of snowy weather and so people just wanted to be out in the sunshine.

The restrictions will be put in place until the beginning of May, when they'll be re-evaluated and possibly extended.

malak.abas@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: malakabas_

Malak Abas

Malak Abas
Reporter

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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