Design Response to COVID-19

Strategy behind the Standard

Walking and cycling is an important part of UK resilience against the Covid-19 coronavirus. It can be compatible with social distancing, as long as the appropriate space is provided.

Social distancing advice, however, highlights the lack of safe space in some areas to allow people to make essential trips and exercise in the safest possible way.

It is therefore important that the design of both temporary and future infrastructure is reactive to this, and builds on the opportunity presented to encourage walking and cycling in the long-term to address congestion, air pollution, social inequalities and the climate crisis.

Whilst the volume of motor traffic has dropped, new challenges to active modes exist; for example, there is still risk for people cycling due to high speed vehicles, as well as problems where existing cycle infrastructure is not wide enough for increased usage and to keep people appropriately distanced.

Best Practice Guidance to be used by Essex Highways.

There is a wide range of actions that local authorities can take to support social distancing whilst encouraging walking and cycling.

Example Responses:

Many cities put in place measures to address the transport implications of the pandemic, in attempt to build on the opportunities presented to further encourage the use of active modes:

  • TfL have announced a ‘London Streetscape’ Programme to accommodate a large increase in walking and cycling when lockdown is lifted
  • Greater Manchester – Transport for Greater Manchester announced on the, 23rd April, that they are altering the signal timing at pedestrian crossings so that pedestrians won’t have to wait so long and could therefore avoid crowding together
  • Sheffield City Region -2040 Active Travel Map developed, asking people to comment on where they would like to see infrastructure. The public are able to suggest locations for road closures/temporary reallocation of road space.
  • New York, Washington DC, Vancouver and many other cities in North American have created emergency cycle lanes or footpaths. In Montreal a 2.7km stretch of parking on a main road has been converted to a footway;
  • Berlin has closed many roads to motor vehicles and also published a guide on temporary cycle provision;
  • Oakland has closed 10% of its public highways to through traffic and other major cities have closed key roads to through motor traffic;
  • Brussels has restricted access across four central bridges to people on foot and cycle only;
  • Dublin has closed a number of streets and removed motor vehicle access to a central park. 

What measures could be implemented quickly?

  • Encourage cycling deliveries
  • Encourage responsible behaviour – highlight good behaviour (e.g. with banners and footway markings to show 2m spacing)
  • Encourage and enforce speed limits – where there are more people walking and cycling
  • Frugal Innovation (e.g. Adapting the physical environment at  a low cost on a temporary basis)
  • Create temporary walking space (or queuing space) on roads – it may be possible to achieve this on multi-lane roads without a TRO by coning off all (or part of) the inside lane, or on single lane roads by narrowing the carriageway. Section 75 of the Highways Act 1980 gives highway authorities powers to “vary the relative widths of the carriageway and of any footway”, while Section 66 allows them to introduce safety measures (footways, guardrails, barriers etc) which could be used to create temporary footway space
  • Create temporary cycling space on roads – mandatory cycle lanes can be installed without a TRO and it is also possible to use ‘light segregation’ to reinforce these (wands, ‘armadillos’ or even cones).
  • Removing lanes for motor traffic
  • Create waiting areas on shopping streets
  • Remove through motor traffic from residential streets (and other roads where possible) – this would allow people to walk in the street with greater safety.
  • Amend pedestrian and cyclist push-buttons at signalled crossings

Opportunities for Essex following the pandemic:

  • LCWIP Networks Do they connect people to right locations e.g. parks, shopping, etc.
  • CAPs – E.g. Quietway network
  • Local Knowledge Where can we work at an accelerated rate e.g. Moulsham St, Winstree Road,
  • Pipeline schemes – e.g. Broomfield Road, New St other LCWIP/LHP/s106 schemes?
  • Quiet Lanes
  • Park and Stride?
  • Love to Ride Essex/Go Jauntly
  • Free bikes being given to key workers – They can become advocates for future behaviour change.