Stephen Edwards, our Director of Policy and Communications, has been quoted in today’s Times report into the need to reallocate more road space to people walking and cycling during this lockdown. With more people #walkingfromhome, he elaborates on why this is needed now more than ever.

stephen edwards


COVID-19 has affected our daily lives in ways that none of us could have foreseen a few short months ago.

With the country under lockdown, schools closed and many people working from home, it remains incredibly important to keep active, both for our own wellbeing and to avoid storing up massive health problems for ourselves and the NHS in the future.

Walking remains the simplest and most accessible form of exercise – especially for the millions of us without gardens.

But the pandemic is making us all realise how much public space is given over to individual car use rather than walking and cycling.

Many of our footways are too narrow. This has long been a problem for people with wheelchairs, buggies and other mobility aids but now it’s affecting everyone’s ability to practise social distancing.

Keeping two metres apart from other people walking is simply not possible in many areas without having to cross the road or step into the carriageway.

Cities worldwide are starting to reallocate road space temporarily to allow people to move more freely.

We need to be following their lead to ensure people can carry out their daily exercise at a safe distance from others and free from road danger.

It's encouraging to see councils in London, Manchester and Brighton taking the initiative, with filtered streets playing a big role.

Filtered neighbourhoods, banning cars from certain roads and tackling pavement parking can all help thin out overcrowded pavements and make our daily exercise easier and safer.

We also need lower speed limits to accommodate the fact that more people are being forced off the safety of the footpath and into the carriageway.

The COVID-19 lockdown is showing the improvements that can be made to air quality and road safety when we drive less.

When we emerge from the other side of this dreadful pandemic, government needs to consider how we can continue to live less car-centric lifestyles.

More from our blog

#WalkingFromHome: Dame Sarah Storey

Dame Sarah Storey tells us what opportunities the lockdown has created for her family.

#WalkingFromHome: Susan Claris

The brief moments when we're able to get out and go for a walk are shining a light on why this simple act is so valuable.

Coronavirus - walking the right way

UK lockdown rules still allow for us to leave the house once a day for exercise.