Councils called on to support cycling and walking during lockdown – and beyond

Follow the examples of Brighton, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow – is the message Cycling UK is delivering to council leaders across the UK.

The charity is urging councils to put – quick and cheap – measures in place during the coronavirus lockdown to make cycling and walking safer.

Measures Cycling UK recommends councils adopt include:

  • Creating temporary and wider cycle lanes using cones and planters
  • Widening footpaths
  • Stopping rat runs by closing residential streets

By putting these in place, the charity says, councils will not just be making the roads safer for key workers on their way to work, families taking their daily exercise and individuals running vital errands, but will also make it easier for everyone to practise social distancing.

Cycling UK has made it easy for the public to contact their councils to support the movement for more temporary cycle lanes.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, said: “A small number of councils are leading the way across Britain, by being proactive in their measures against Covid-19. Introducing measures to make cycling and walking safer and social distancing easier is essential not just for right now, but also for the future when lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

“The reality is the rollout of a vaccine, when it is found, is likely to take time but we will still need to get about. Social distancing is likely to be the “new normal” for quite some time – and that means people need more space to keep safe.

“Cycling UK’s guide will help councils be proactive in keeping people safe in a cost- and resource-efficient manner.”

Will Butler-Adams, CEO of Brompton Bicycle, backs the guide and said: “Around us, global cities are taking the lead in repurposing space for cycling and walking. We need the UK to be proactive, especially as increased cycling and walking, post-lockdown, will help mitigate against a second wave of infection. If cities don’t act now, it’s very likely that they will discover a huge increase in private car usage post-lockdown, with large impacts on health, air quality and productivity. We’d encourage everybody to write to their elected representatives and make the case and demand clear for cycling and walking during and after the pandemic.”

Cycling UK has set up a simple online tool for people who want to see improved facilities for social distancing in their neighbourhood, which allows them to contact their council leaders and local councillor.

Dollimore added: “It’s simple – if you want improved conditions on your local roads and streets which will allow you to practise social distancing and be safer from other road traffic, then tell your council. They have a chance to make a difference right now, if they’re prepared to grasp it.”

Dr Rachel Lee, policy and research manager at Living Streets supporting the campaign said: “This pandemic is making us all realise how much public space is given over to individual car use rather than walking and cycling. Filtered neighbourhoods, banning cars from certain roads and tackling pavement parking can all help make our daily exercise easier and safer.

“Towns and cities worldwide are starting to reallocate road space so people can carry out their daily exercise at a safe distance from others and free from road danger. Now we can start to follow their lead. With National Walking Month around the corner in May, there’s never been a better time to get people moving towards active travel.”