Councils invited to use lockdown as a chance to move over to sustainable transport
The Welsh Government has called on local authorities to take advantage of the lockdown in order to transform Wales’ transport system.
Measures such as temporary cycle lanes, pavement widening and speed restrictions could be put in place while the lockdown is in force, Deputy Transport Minister Lee Waters said.
He wants councils to take inspiration from towns and cities such as Milan and Berlin in response to quieter roads.
“The immense challenges of coronavirus have severely disrupted our transport network and I am clear that we don’t need to go back to normal,” Lee Waters said.
“We have a chance to do things differently, helping more people to walk, cycle and travel in sustainable ways.
“To do this we need to make changes quickly. I want local authorities to be imaginative, drawing on good practice from towns and cities across the globe. By reallocating road space and changing our environment we can alter the way people think about travelling.
“These changes will support much needed improvements in air quality, decarbonisation and public health. I look forward to working with local authorities to make a real, lasting difference.”
Coronavirus restrictions have led to significant reductions in traffic on roads, fewer people using public transport, and more people walking and cycling.
The lockdown has also seen a huge uptake in digital remote working, bringing the need to travel long distances for work into question.
The Welsh Government’s call to action is driven by the expectation that social distancing will need to be observed for months to come, as well as uncertainty around future transport patterns.
The Deputy Minister has written to all local authorities inviting them to submit proposals for temporary measures that would improve the conditions for sustainable and active travel.
The type of ‘pop-up measures’ that are being encouraged include:
- Road closures or lane closures, with filters for cyclists
- 20mph limits, bringing forward trials for the introduction of default 20mph limits
- Footway widening and decluttering
- Real-time information systems, including occupancy levels
- Temporary crossing facilities
- Bus lanes, bus-only roads, and park & ride facilities
- Enhanced waiting facilities to encourage social distancing
Measures should not be limited to large urban areas, as the same principles apply for smaller towns in rural areas. Initial expressions of interest are asked for by 21 May and measures are envisaged to be introduced from early summer.