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.
132 people have signed this ePetition.