Redesigning our spaces during and after the coronavirus: closing roads

Temporary relaxation of rules will allow local authorities to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians during pandemic.

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There is a lot of government guidance about what councils can do to make our streets safe:

The government “expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians”.

Redesigning our spaces after the coronavirus: government guidance

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And this includes a lot of measures to build temporary – and even longer-term – wider spaces for pedestrians and cyclists, as intended by the County Council’s head of transport:

“We will be liaising with town and parish councils and we will be seeking support from the business community to understand how we can deliver local aspirations for pedestrian and cycling improvements.”

New cycle lanes and wider pavements: ‘pop-ups’ for Devon

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Another piece of government guidance allows for temporary barriers to be set up, for example:

Potential interventions that could support social distancing
This is what you should be considering for the utilisation of pedestrian space:
• Footway widening to accommodate distancing between pedestrians, including the use of temporary barriers in the carriageway; changes to parking bays, loading bays and cycle lanes.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Safer Public Places – Urban Centres and Green Spaces | assets.publishing.service.gov.uk 

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Councils have also been given powers to close roads if necessary:

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Government relaxes rules to make it easier for councils to ban motor traffic during coronavirus crisis

Temporary relaxation of rules will allow local authorities to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians during pandemic

The government has said that it is making it easier for councils in England to temporarily close streets to motor vehicles during the coronavirus pandemic. Relaxation of the rules would also let local authorities take space away from motor traffic and reallocate it to pedestrians and cyclists instead.

BBC News reports (link is external) that existing rules that councils have to follow and which mean it can take a number of weeks for proposed closures to take effect are being relaxed for as long as the crisis lasts.

Among other things, the measure is said to be aimed at helping people travelling by foot or on bikes to maintain social distance.

A letter sent by the Department for Transport (DfT) to local authorities in England said: “This is temporary guidance and will be withdrawn once conditions allow.”

Government relaxes rules to make it easier for councils to ban motor traffic during coronavirus crisis | road.cc

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Because we will need all the space we can have on pavements as queues spill out from the shops…

Sidmouth high street is certainly not a city high street, but the roads are narrower and can be just as busy in the peak season.

For example, as reported in the Mail this week:

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This week the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea announced Portobello Market would be closed to cars from Monday to Saturday, starting from June 8.

Cllr Johnny Thalassites from the West London council said: ‘Closing our world-famous Portobello Road to traffic will keep shoppers and traders safe as the lockdown eases and the market returns.

‘This is the first of many measures to make sure Kensington and Chelsea remains a destination. Now is the time to innovate to help the borough bounce back so we’ll be fast-tracking planned work and putting in new schemes to make sure walking and cycling are safe and attractive options, protecting our people and our economy.’

Keeping your distance on the High Street | dailymail.co.uk

   
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