OTTAWA -- Hundreds of people took advantage of the sunny spring weather and extra space to get some fresh air along the Queen Elizabeth Driveway.

It’s day one of a nine day pilot project by the National Capital Commission to close a section of Queen Elizabeth Driveway to motor vehicle traffic, between Laurier Avenue and Fifth Avenue. Cyclists, runners and pedestrians can spread out on the road daily between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councillor Shawn Menard tells CTV News Ottawa he was impressed with the public’s response on the first day of the road closure along the Rideau Canal.

“People are using these as intended, they’re keeping their distance,” said Menard of the lane closures on Queen Elizabeth Driveway and on the Bank Street Bridge.

“I saw a lot of local neighbours there, which is what the NCC wants for the QED.”

The NCC says the temporary closure of the road is to give residents in nearby neighbourhoods the ability to get outdoors while practicing physical distancing.

“Because of the directive to avoid non-essential travel, we ask that only local residents living in adjacent neighbourhoods access the Queen Elizabeth Driveway during this pilot project,” the NCC said in a statement on its website.

“Other members of the public should not seek to drive there as a destination.”

Menard says he heard from many constituents looking for extra space along the Rideau Canal to get some exercise, while practicing physical distancing.

“You don’t want to see congregations, you don’t want to see people stopped and talking in huge groups,” said Menard, adding the City of Ottawa hasn’t seen that since expanding the sidewalk along the Bank Street Bridge for pedestrians.

A cyclist told CTV News Ottawa “it was a great idea” to open the Queensway Elizabeth Driveway to pedestrians and cyclists.

“People are very respectful, they’re keeping their distance and spreading out. There’s lots of space.”

The NCC is asking for the public’s feedback on the pilot project to temporarily close a section of Queen Elizabeth Driveway to motor vehicle traffic.

The survey asks which activity you did on the road, how you got to your starting point to use the road and “based on your own observations while using the Driveway, were users respecting the social/physical distancing requirements?”