CALGARY -- Barricades have been set up and traffic lights have been switched off on a stretch of road along the Bow River in Calgary, but it's not because of a serious traffic problem.

City officials have brought back a popular pandemic pastime for residents, closing a section of Memorial Drive N.W., from Ninth Street to Centre Street. The lower deck of the bridge will also be closed off to vehicle traffic.

It's the first time the road has been closed in 2021 to allow for residents to get outside and enjoy the weather in a safe, physically distanced fashion. Cyclists are also allowed to enjoy the route, provided they follow all COVID-19 health guidelines and municipal bylaws.

Other vehicles are still allowed on Memorial Drive while the closure is in place, but they are restricted to the westbound lanes of the road.

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Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farell called the idea "a creative solution" for many to beat the pandemic blues.


“It’s a really important time for pandemic prevention because we’ve got these new variants and as we saw last weekend there was a lot of crowding, so we’re obligated to provide people the space both for exercise and mental health and their ability to spread out a little bit,” Farrell said.


Meanwhile, some cyclists like Molli Bennett, who is on the board of directors with Bike Calgary, say the expanded pathways open up more mobility options and provide a boost to local business.


"We know that not everyone owns a car and when we think about re-opening our economy and getting folks to where they can work and also go and purchase goods and services, they have to get there," Bennett said.


“One of the ways that people get there is by bike, by walking and other modes of transportation besides the car.”

More closures are also along the westbound parking lane on Riverfront Avenue S.E., the eastbound parking lane on Crescent Road N.W. between 7A Street N.W. and First Street S.E.

The southbound parking lane on 12 Street S.E. between Eighth Avenue and 21 Avenue S.E. is also closed off for pedestrians to access.

The city has yet to review a report on the pilot project. It's expected to be brought to council in the coming weeks.

As a result, additional lane closures may be installed this spring or summer depending on the weather.