During lockdown in the UK, politicians and experts have called for urgent action to create more space for walking and cycling. It is also to avoid a rise in traffic as restrictions on movement are lifted. Many cities around the world are taking action to provide safe routes for sustainable travel. They are reallocating road space away from motor vehicles.
Manchester announced plans to protect space for those on foot and cycles. However, most UK councils have not yet taken any action. It came after when Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser suggested physical distancing may last for the rest of the year.
The World Health Organization suggests that walking and cycling are among the best ways to practice physical distancing.
When the lockdown is lifted, experts fear a return to heavily congested roads. It is thought to be damaging. It is because air pollution is likely to exacerbate Covid-19 problems.
Ruth Cadbury is a Labour MP and co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for cycling and walking. She stated that action was needed to avoid a nightmare on the roads as restrictions are lifted. She thinks that people are going to rush back to their cars instead of using public transport in the fear of infection. It will make the urban streets more congested than ever. She said that local authorities could allocate road space for walking and cycling. It would be via temporary or emergency traffic orders. It will bring forward existing plans or targeting key commuter routes, including to hospitals. Cadbury adds that guidance from the government would help.
Furthermore, a rise in extreme speeding has been observed during the lockdown. It has led experts to suggest motor traffic could prove disproportionately lethal during the pandemic. They have also urged the authorities to make changes to city streets.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK head of campaigns, said pop-up walking and cycling space could relieve pressure on public transport. It will also help people maintain social distancing.
Since Thursday, more than 3,000 people have written to their councils. They have called for such measures. He said that people will need more space to keep safe after the lockdown is relaxed. So, in preparation for this time, its essential councils introduce measures to make cycling and walking safer that will also make social distancing easier right now.