- By SimonM on 2 days ago
Giving more road space to cycling and walking is no longer a ‘nice to have’ option for councils – it is an instruction from the Department for Transport.
The instruction has been sent to all councils in new statutory guidance: Traffic Management Act 2004: network management in response to COVID-19. We covered the launch of the guidance on Monday, but mainly focused on how little of the funding was earmarked for London.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps makes clear, in his statement launching the new approach, that local authorities most now “make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.”
The document lays out options for councils and also says they must: “do what is necessary to ensure transport networks support recovery from the COVID-19 emergency and provide a lasting legacy of greener, safer transport… Authorities should monitor and evaluate any temporary measures they install, with a view to making them permanent, and embedding a long-term shift to active travel as we move from restart to recovery.”
Measures suggested include:
- Installing ‘pop-up’ cycle facilities using light segregation such as flexible plastic wands; or quickly converting traffic lanes into temporary cycle lanes (suspending parking bays where necessary); widening existing cycle lanes to enable cyclists to maintain distancing. Facilities should be segregated as far as possible.
- Using cones and barriers to widen footways.
- Introducing more ‘School Streets’.
- Reducing speed limits.
- Introducing pedestrian and cycle zones: restricting access for motor vehicles at certain times (or at all times) to specific streets.
- Modal filters (also known as filtered permeability); closing roads to through motor traffic, for example by using planters or large barriers, to create “low traffic neighbourhoods”.
- Providing additional cycle parking facilities at key locations, including by repurposing parking bays.
- Changes to junction design to accommodate (more) cyclists.
- ‘Whole-route’ approaches to create corridors for buses, cycles and access only on key routes into town and city centres.
- Identifying and bringing forward permanent schemes already planned.
All of this dovetails well with the Mayor of London’s Streetspace Plan, that also suggests many of the same approaches, and which has already moved from just pavement widening to also providing separate cycle tracks.
It is clear that any funding now coming from the Mayor and TfL will be likely to go to those boroughs getting on with this approach. And it is being implied that those councils who do nothing may face the prospect of these approaches being delivered by the DfT or TfL despite their objections.
Over to the boroughs
We know the funding hasn’t arrived yet, but that hasn’t stopped many boroughs from already delivering on-the-ground improvements to streets in response to this crisis. So, given the government is getting tough and demanding action from every council; given the Mayor and his team are pushing ahead with their Streetspace Plan for their roads and boroughs; and given the horrific images we’re seeing of motor traffic and pollution building as well as crammed tube carriages and buses, how long will your borough wait before taking action?
Croydon, Hackney, Lambeth, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets aren’t waiting. And neither are several other boroughs coming just behind them. What about yours?