Sustrans has called on local authorities to adapt roads and streets to ensure people stay safe and can travel actively during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, the Department for Transport (DfT) updated emergency guidance regarding Traffic Regulation Orders in England. This gives councils more powers to reallocate road spaces to walking and cycling, such as closing roads or changing their use as long as they are in line with the Government COVID-19 safety guidance.
The call comes after Brighton and Hove City Council is the first council in the UK to close a major road along the seafront to motor traffic. This has been planned to give local residents more space to take their outdoor exercise during the pandemic.
“Increasing the flexibility of the rules applied to Traffic Regulation Orders will make it easier and quicker for local authorities to reallocate road space to walking and cycling during COVID-19,” said Rachel White, Head of Public Affairs at Sustrans.
“Walking and cycling is an important part of UK resilience against the virus. The need for social distancing of two metres highlights the lack of safe space in some areas to ensure people, including key workers, can undertake their essential trips and exercise in the safest possible way.
“Temporary cycle lanes, closing streets to cars and widening pavements can enable residents to do essential trips and stay active under ever-changing circumstances. These measures will also help support local businesses and last-mile deliveries. We encourage local authorities to use the powers and respond accordingly to the new circumstances to ensure public spaces are safe, healthy and inclusive for all. Any new measures implemented now should also aim to deliver long-term change after lockdown, addressing congestion, air pollution, social inequalities and the global climate crisis,” added Ms White.