Councils from across the country are drafting emergency plans to protect walking and cycling. Four leading councillors joined a national webinar on Thursday 7th May to share the why, how and what of their plans.
Implementation in all cases included plans to widened pavements, introduce pop-up bikes lanes and key-worker corridors, 20 mph zones and emergency low traffic neighbourhoods.
N.B On Saturday 9th May, after this event, the Secretary of State for Transport issued fresh guidance strong encouraging councils to take ‘radical’ emergency measures and outlined the types of options and procedures that councils should follow.
Cllr Claire Holland – Video
- Deputy Leader of The London Borough of Lambeth
- Portfolio holder for sustainable transport, environment and clean air
Cllr Holland launched an ambitious, people-focused transport strategy for her borough in 2019. On 24th April Lambeth were first local authority in UK to announce an emergency transport strategy.
- “70% of our households live in flats and a third of our children live in poverty, and the majority of households do not own a car. So running through all of this is an equalities issue as well.”
- “How do we enable people to safely move around their neighbourhoods, to walk and cycle to town centres; how do we prevent our roads being clogged up again and the rat-running and a return to the dirty air we had before?”
- “We were acutely aware that our residents were putting themselves at risk of one danger [road danger] to avoid another [covid]”
- Emergency strategy based on data gathered as part of Lambeth’s ambitious 2019 Transport Strategy including rolling out low traffic neighbourhoods across the borough. Traffic reduction schemes already in development will be accelerated.
- Phased approach, learning as we go and recognise that an agile approach is required as conditions change.
- As well as using utilities permits for footway widening, a borough wide traffic management order (s14, RTRA 1984) is being put in place, this allows the highway authority to be more responsive and accelerate interventions.
Dr Rachel Aldred – Video
- Professor in Transport Studies at University of Westminster
- 25+ peer reviewed publications
- “One thing we can see is how habits can change very, very quickly”
- “We have to create the conditions for people to make good [transport] choices.”
- Sport England research shows 3rd people getting more exercise now than before Covid 19.
- Not just a return to car use but more cars on the road. ⅔ public transport commuters have access to a private car, ¼ of those same people live in household with access to more than one car. The propensity for bad choices to be made is huge.
- ⅓ of public transport commuters do not have a car in the household. However amongst coach and bus commuters ⅖ do not have access to a private car.
- With car ownership lower for single parents, those living with disabilities, black and minority ethnic groups and those on low incomes will have the fewest transport alternatives.
- Those who are already marginalised will be more vulnerable as public transport potential becomes less safe, less frequent and possibly more expensive.
- Two thirds of pavements in London are not wide enough for people to observe the government’s advice to stay two metres apart, according to new UCL analysis. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2020/may/most-london-pavements-are-not-wide-enough-social-distancing
Cllr Waseem Zaffar – Video
- Cllr Birmingham City Council
- Cabinet member for Transport & the Environment.
Cllr Zaffar has overseen delivery of fully protected cycle ways on the A34 and A38, he is a bus user and suffers from type 2 diabetes but has seen his health improve significantly and he has cycled more local trips.
- “Pre-covid in Birmingham ¼ of all journeys are less than one mile by private car, that’s 300,000 journeys any working day.”
- “We want Birmingham to be a 20mph default city, 90% of Birmingham’s roads are residential roads”
- “Car will no longer be king in Birmingham” with reference to Birmingham’s draft transport strategy (Jan 2019).
- “We’d like to see this as the new normal, we don’t want to go back to how our cities and towns looked prior to this.”
– Draft transport strategy priorities:
- Reallocation road space to walking, cycling and public transport
- Recreating a city centre with priority for walking cycling and buses
- ‘Active Neighbourhoods’ (Low Traffic Neighbourhood – filtered permeability)
- Parking demand management
- 20mph default for the city
– C19 is a catalyst for bringing these plans forward.
Cllr Clyde Loakes – Link
- Deputy Leader and portfolio holder for transport and environment,
- London Borough of Waltham Forest.
Cllr Loakes has championed the ‘Mini Holland’ programme in the borough which has including 51 point closures designed to reduce short, driven trips and created more than 25km of comfortable space for cycling. Follows these radical measures, Cllrs Loakes grew his majority in the May 2018 local elections. Their flagship 4.4km cycleway on Lea Bridge Road scheme has seen a 97% increase in usage since lockdown began.
- “From today we’ve started stripping out car parking spaces in our town centres to increase the width of pavements”
- “We’ve got a new batch of School Streets* that are ready to go as soon as schools go back, they were planned already but clearly have more significance now”
- “We’re looking to roll out further our Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and we’ve got a couple we were planning to do permanently this year.
- “With budgets hit hard the fixtures and fitting of our schemes may not be as originally planned but we will still go ahead.”
- “It’s definitely possible to do it cheaply, its’ definitely possible to do it easily, as long you have the political will. To do it you can make it work”
- “All the evidence is on our side for those of us who want to push for these responses, now I the time”
* School Streets is an intervention that restricts motor vehicles access in one or more roads outside school sites during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up periods. In London school streets are often enforced by cameras. Hackney Council’s excellent guide to school streets can be downloaded here.
Cllr Adam Clarke Video
- Deputy Mayor City Mayor at Leicester City Council
- Portfolio holder for environment and transportation.
Leicester were the first council in the country to roll out a ‘Keyworker Corridor’ temporary protected cycleway linking to Leicester Royal Infirmary.
– “Make sure you have robust partnerships and a really robust walking and cycling community that you lobby with and not against.”
– “We all get it, It doesn’t feel brave to us, it feels right us.”
– “Our free bike loan and free bike fix programmes go hand in hand with providing that segregated infrastructure for our key workers.
Data from survey
40 Councils responded on the webinar with data on the present state of planning:
N.B. Question 4 was answered before the clear guidance on Saturday 9th from the Department for Transport. That guidance clarified the powers of councils, make it clear that the need for Covid-19 was a reason to introduce emergency measures and made a an additional £250M of funding available to councils.
Councillors should note that because emergency and experimental schemes can be done quickly and generally involve paint, plastic blocks and planters, schemes should be possible at a fraction of their normals costs.
For more information on:
1- How to deploy temporary measures we recommend Urban Design Group’s new guide for local authorities on fast urban change for life-saving streets: http://www.udg.org.uk/content/fast-urban-change-life-saving-streets
2 – For How to implement school streets, we recommend Hackney Council’s excellent guide to school streets can be downloaded here.
3 – More information on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, we recommend the Livings Streets guide for policy makers
4 For how to move quickly, we recommend the updated Department for transport guidance.