A radical change for Active Travel
The Government’s response to Covid-19 has led to a radical change in expectations on Local Authorities for traffic management in the form of statutory guidance. It recognises all of the advantages of active travel we have been advocating for years and states: “The government therefore expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.”
The implications are profound. For the first time ever, there is a statutory duty on councils to provide safe cycle routes and encourage active travel. That means more than simply providing cycle parking and training. Allocation of Government funding for highways may depend on councils meeting these new obligations.
What’s happening in Barnet?
Barnet Council officers have the go-ahead from Councillors for temporary ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes on the A1000 from Tally-Ho to the border with Haringey. It’s a good start, but much less than what we have called for.
With problems using public transport, we are concerned that the roads could become even busier than before the pandemic.
Please would you email the council leader Cllr Daniel Thomas using https://membership.lcc.org.uk/help-london-stop-tide-motor-traffic-returning to reinforce the message that action is needed now.
You can also use the Cycling UK campaign: https://action.cyclinguk.org/page/59646/action/1 This lets you send an email to your local councillors in addition to the council leader. It also lets you do a follow up email to thank them for any measures and suggest others.
Here is the statutory guidance on reallocating road space:
Reallocating road space: measures
Local authorities in areas with high levels of public transport use should take measures to reallocate road space to people walking and cycling, both to encourage active travel and to enable social distancing during restart (social distancing in this context primarily refers to the need for people to stay 2 metres apart where possible when outdoors). Local authorities where public transport use is low should be considering all possible measures.
Measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks, given the urgent need to change travel habits before the restart takes full effect.
None of these measures are new – they are interventions that are a standard part of the traffic management toolkit, but a step-change in their roll-out is needed to ensure a green restart. They include:
- Installing ‘pop-up’ cycle facilities with a minimum level of physical separation from volume traffic; for example, mandatory cycle lanes, using light segregation features 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, i.e. with physical measures separating cyclists and other traffic. Lanes indicated by road markings only are very unlikely to be sufficient to deliver the level of change needed, especially in the longer term.
- Using cones and barriers: to widen footways along lengths of road, particularly outside shops and transport hubs; to provide more space at bus stops to allow people to queue and socially distance; to widen pedestrian refuges and crossings (both formal and informal) to enable people to cross roads safely and at a distance.
- Encouraging walking and cycling to school, for example through the introduction of more ‘school streets’. Pioneered in London, these are areas around schools where motor traffic is restricted at pick-up and drop-off times, during term-time. They can be effective in encouraging more walking and cycling, particularly where good facilities exist on routes to the school and where the parents, children and school are involved as part of the scheme development.
- Reducing speed limits: 20mph speed limits are being more widely adopted as an appropriate speed limit for residential roads, and many through streets in built-up areas. 20mph limits alone will not be sufficient to meet the needs of active travel, but in association with other measures, reducing the speed limit can provide a more attractive and safer environment for walking and cycling.
- Introducing pedestrian and cycle zones: restricting access for motor vehicles at certain times (or at all times) to specific streets, or networks of streets, particularly town centres and high streets. This will enable active travel but also social distancing in places where people are likely to gather.
- Modal filters (also known as filtered permeability); closing roads to motor traffic, for example by using planters or large barriers. Often used in residential areas, this can create neighbourhoods that are low-traffic or traffic free, creating a more pleasant environment that encourages people to walk and cycle, and improving safety.
- Providing additional cycle parking facilities at key locations, such as outside stations and in high streets, to accommodate an increase in cycling, for example by repurposing parking bays to accommodate cycle racks.
- Changes to junction design to accommodate more cyclists – for example, extending Advanced Stop Lines at traffic lights to the maximum permitted depth of 7.5 metres where possible.
- ‘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, for example under Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans, and that can be constructed relatively quickly.