What’s Going On Here?

As the lockdown starts to ease, the UK government and campaigners are urging the public to walk or cycle instead of driving or using public transport.

What Does This Mean?

With the lockdown gradually being eased in the UK, the government is advising that as many of us as possible walk and cycle to protect the public transport network. Understandable concerns about getting on buses and trains has already led to an increased uptake of cycling by individuals in recent weeks, with a 200% increase in bike orders for the cycle to work scheme, and bike shops such as Halfords seeing a 23% soar in shares.

However, the need for social distancing has highlighted how little space is allocated to pedestrians and cyclists in our cities. Nine organisations including Transport Action NetworkGreenpeaceGlobal Action Plan and Cycling UK have written an open letter to the government to demand permanent measures to reduce road traffic including wider pavements and protected bike lanes.

On Saturday UK transport secretary Grant Schapps unveiled a £2 billion investment in walking and cycling and promised fast-tracking of e-scooter trials. Expect to see more of our road space allocated for walking and cycling as lockdown restrictions ease!

The UK will hopefully follow in the footsteps of other cities implementing effective changes. Including Paris creating 650km of post lockdown cycleways, Brussels planning on finishing 25 miles of new bike lanes before the end of lockdown, New York allocating 75 miles of streets to cycling and pedestrians and Bogota, Columbia opening 76km of temporary bike lanes.

Why Should We Care?

The dramatic drop in air pollution seen due to lockdown travel restrictions is hopefully something that can now continue, especially as there has been a link identified between dirty air and higher Covid-19 mortality rates. Discouraging excessive use of vehicles and encouraging active travel will help prevent a second peak of infections, improve air quality, improve our own health and wellbeing AND help meet climate goals.

Obviously it’s a little disappointing that it’s taken a pandemic to really get these plans pushed through, but it’s definitely looking like there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic!

Be Curious!

  • Ask your council for cycling space during lockdown via Cycling UK or Living Streets
  • Check out Cycling UK’s research showing how 100 miles of pop-up lanes could make post-lockdown cycling safe.
  • Check out Extinction Rebellion’s reclaim the streets action this weekend campaigning for wider bike lanes and pavements. 
  • Most importantly- get on your bike!

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