Since Lockdown many local journeys have switched to walking and cycling – whether to get to the shops, work or for daily exercise.
Our Head of Policy & Comms, Tanya Braun, highlights how the increase in these journeys and the need to physically distance, has driven local authorities to rethink space on their streets.
Over the past two weeks we’ve seen calls, suggestions and examples for, and of, local authorities giving back street space to those on foot or bike. Travelling in these ways is good for us and our environment and therefore more space to safely do them will help create a better environment for all.
Two weeks ago, we kicked off an action for people to write to their local councils with suggestions for which streets needed reallocation of space.
Over 1.5K of you having taken action so far – thank you! We hope you see local action taken soon. If you do please let us know.
Since then we’ve seen a flurry of activity from councils and combined authorities across the UK. We've rounded up the key changes happening now:
Brighton was one of the first local authorities to turn space once given to cars, over to pedestrians and those on bikes. Madeira Drive along the seafront is now a haven for those wanting to exercise or get to work, like this doctor.
Edinburgh has benefitted from the £10M fund given by Scottish Government to help local authorities in Scotland. In Edinburgh this will result in road lane closures and the implementation of temporary cycle lanes.
London has seen the launch of Streetspace – a campaign by the Mayor to widen pavements across the city. The idea is this will accommodate a possible ten-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking when lockdown restrictions are eased. Low-traffic neighbourhoods will be created across London to enable more people to walk and cycle as part of their daily routine too. Hackney Council has already implemented widening of pavements in key locations in the borough.
Greater Manchester The Mayor has created a £5M fund to create more space for walkers and cyclists. Widening pavements, decluttering street furniture and traffic calming measures on residential streets will be implemented as part of the #SafeStreetsSaveLives campaign.
Sheffield The Mayor of Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis and Active Travel Commissioner Dame Sarah Storey have asked for flexibility in funding, to allow South Yorkshire to use the £166million allocated to the region through the Transforming Cities Fund to be used to make space for walking and cycling quickly during the pandemic.
Bradford is reducing speed limits in town centres to 20mph, widening footways, Widening of non-segregated cycle lanes on roads, Pedestrian crossings have been modified to automatically provide a ‘green man’ crossing signal without the need for people to push the call button. Working in partnership with Capital of Cycling to loan bicycles to key workers and hiring a ‘Cycling and Active Travel Champion’ officer.
Leicester has introduced temporary cycle lanes and traffic lights have been altered to give priority to pedestrians and cyclists.
This is all really fantastic news. The first steps to encouraging more of us to walk local, everyday journeys is to make it safer. And we are hearing that more local authorities will be announcing plans soon.
Now we must ensure changes we’ve made to support physical distancing, to protect vulnerable people in our population, can be embedded for the long-term. Even after we emerge from this pandemic, we will still be facing physical activity, air quality and climate change challenges. Creating a real legacy for walking and cycling can help us to meet these challenges.
We’ll be working to ensure this happens. Watch this space.
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