GREENSBORO, N.C. — Right now more than ever, people are desperate to feel connected to others. That’s why Greensboro is joining major cities across the country in a campaign that makes it easier to enjoy recreational exercise.
It’s called the Slow Streets Program. It’s geared towards making neighborhoods more accessible to bicyclists and pedestrians.
Exercise is something people may set aside, but in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s a luxury a lot of people miss doing together.
“It’s important for our immune systems, for our mental health, for our physical well-beings to get out and have fresh air and exercise. Without that, depression levels are high,” Nicole Lindahl, Bicycling in Greensboro project manager said.
For the bike riding advocacy group, social distancing means group rides are either altered by wearing masks or halted altogether. Many of them use their bikes to get everywhere.
“I sold my car in 2004, so I have been a commuter ever since,” Lindahl said.
That’s why they wanted to make sure during a time like this Greensboro is safe enough for them to do what they always do.
“I think I first approached the city about it about a month ago or so, and its been about a couple of weeks of serious reaching out to neighborhoods and the planning process,” Lindahl said.
The Slow Streets program launched Friday. The City of Greensboro placed barrels in the Glenwood neighborhood from Highland Avenue to Haywood Street and Florida Street. They also lined West Greenway drive from West Market to Walker avenue in the Sunset Hills neighborhood.
But why did they choose these locations?
“So, this is actually the reason that they chose Hyland: one of the reasons is that it boarders one off the major parks in Glenwood,” Lindahl said. “This way it will give people more space as they are going and coming from that park and just to participate in recreation activities that perhaps they couldn’t because the size of the park,” she said.
While the roads will be open to people living in the area, their use is being discouraged.
“If you know another way to go through, this is kind of an indication you will meet a lot of pedestrian and cycling traffic on this road. So, it may be easier for you to go on another road,” said Chandler Hagen with the City of Greensboro Department of Transportation.
And also just be aware. Be safe. Slow down. There is going to be more people here,” she said.
City leaders hope you get used to sharing the road with people on foot or on a bike.
“That is a kind of a hope for the Slow Streets Program: that not only will people slow down here, but they will get used to the idea off seeing walkers and bikers on other streets and maybe just kind of slow down in general,” Hagen said.
After advocating for the program to city leaders, Bicycling Greensboro is considering this a win.
‘We’re thrilled. We’re absolutely thrilled. This is something we want to see continue even after the pandemic is over,” Lindahl said.
For those worried that the closures will hold traffic up on their streets, city officials said it would not be a spur of the moment decision.
“If anyone was worried about their street being a potential one and not being interested, I would assure them that one: we’re not even sure if this project is going to expand-so don’t get too worried ahead of time,” Hagen said. “There would be significant outreach and support to the neighborhood first to make sure.”