ePetition details

Safer Social Distancing on our Streets

We the undersigned petition the County Council to take emergency action to ensure that increasing numbers of pedestrians and cyclists can travel safely and without fear throughout Hertfordshire, whilst still ensuring appropriate social distancing to protect public health. This should take into account those measures set-out in the statutory guidance Traffic Management Act 2004: Network Management in Response to COVID-19; specifically, to include the following: • Use of emergency Traffic Regulation Orders to introduce a 20 mile per hour speed restriction in all built-up areas. • Limiting all unnecessary parking of vehicles on pavements, with the exception of permitted loading and unloading, to ensure pedestrians have access to the fullest space available. • A temporary widening of pavements and pedestrian areas to ensure that social distancing can be practiced effectively. • The creation of dedicated, physically separated cycle lanes (where practicable) to ensure that cyclists can travel with minimal risk from adjacent vehicles

As our eyes turn to the future following the unprecedented events and tragic losses of the last two months, we are all going to have to adjust to a ‘new normal’. Along with heightened vigilance around health and hygiene, it is likely that forms of social distancing will need to be maintained for at least the next 12-18 months.

Over the coming weeks and months, as people start to return to work and make additional journeys outside of their homes, it will be increasingly challenging to maintain the necessary safe distances in towns and cities which have predominantly been designed with roads, traffic and private vehicles as the main priority; leaving pedestrians and cyclists to use whatever spaces are left over. How can you maintain a safe distance of 2 metres between people on a pavement which is only a metre wide? How can a wheelchair user or parent pushing a buggy safely pass when a car is parked on the pavement? How can cyclists safely use the road when cars are driving past at 30 miles an hour? How can the above happen simultaneously without serious risk to all concerned?

The lockdown measures have seen a welcome reduction in vehicular road traffic and an increase in people choosing to walk or cycle when they need to make necessary journeys (up to 70% in the case of cycling). However, as these measures are eased, there is an acknowledgement that public transport will not be able to operate at the same capacity as before whilst maintaining social distancing; leaving people with a choice between walking and cycling or driving a car.

The benefits of using ‘active travel’, such as walking or cycling, have been well covered – they are good for the environment and good for health and wellbeing. However, with our towns and cities as they are, it will simply not be possible to accommodate an increased number of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles whilst still enabling suitable social distancing to avoid a resurgence of Covid-19 cases. The Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, recognised this in his speech on Saturday, 9 May; announcing a £250 million emergency fund for local authorities in England to introduce measures to help create safer spaces for all users of our roads. Subsequent updated statutory guidance from the Department of Transport has given this legal imperative.

Started by: Thomas Day (East Hertfordshire Green Party)

This ePetition runs from 13/05/2020 to 13/07/2020.

199 people have signed this ePetition.