Transport Research Laboratory says safe cycling infrastructure “needed” for social distancing

The Transport Research Laboratory has joined the chorus of organisations stating that safe cycling and walking infrastructure is “needed” if social distancing is to work in the UK.

A statement issued today by TRL, which is often relied upon by Government to trial infrastructure designs before they are set in concrete, read: “TRL call upon authorities to re-configure streets and pathways to prioritise safe active travel. Similar precautions have been seen across Brighton, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow who have begun re-visualising their infrastructure, but the same is needed across the UK if we are to overcome COVID-19 and encourage a greener commuting initiative. In a challenging time with a lot of uncertainties, TRL is well positioned to help local authorities explore the idea of ‘pop-up’ walking and cycling facilities on their road-networks by providing evidence-based strategies to optimise their implementation safely and ensure a safer future of active travel.”

The Berkshire-based transport researcher utilised its many acres of land when cycling infrastructure first begun to be trialled ahead of London’s rollout. Such things as the advanced lighting for cyclists, as well as Dutch style roundabouts were trialled at the site, with volunteer drivers, cyclists and members of the public asked to behave as naturally as possible while accessing the dummy junction layouts.

“With the decrease in motorised traffic across the UK, alternative modes of transport have never seemed more appealing,” added TRL. “People working from home now have no need for their polluted commute and instead are turning to more active forms of transport to get household essentials and exercise. However, to accommodate for this upsurge in walking and cycling, TRL call upon authorities to ensure the safety of alternative methods of transport is prioritised and follow social distancing rules.”

For the bike industry such infrastructure looks likely to hold the key to unlocking new customers and, more importantly, retaining business for the long term. Unsafe infrastructure consistently ranks among the top turn offs for people who are yet to take to two wheels, or have done so recently. Painted bike lanes have therefore been found to be much less appealing over separated from traffic lanes which tend to enjoy much higher levels of ridership.