Millions of commuters could travel to work safely if only 100 miles of pop up cycle lanes were installed across ten English cities, Cycling UK has said.
The charity is calling on the Government to support and encourage local authorities to start installing temporary cycle lanes and wider pavements across all cities and towns in preparation for the UK’s post-lockdown recovery. A Cycling UK campaign calling on councils to start building pop up cycle lanes has so far seen 5,551 members of the public write to their councillors in support.
To assist councils across England, the charity has commissioned research showing where ten cities, including Manchester and Birmingham, could place pop up cycle lanes that will allow the most people to cycle safely to work while also maintaining social distancing.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns said: “The last thing we want when lockdown ends is everyone jumping into their cars to drive to work because they’re concerned about taking public transport. Pop up cycle lanes and widened pavements are cheap and easy to implement solutions which will allow millions to move in safety, not just from the risks of motor traffic but also from the risks of catching coronavirus.”
A recent poll by Ipsos Mori shows 61% of Britons are uncomfortable about taking public transport post-lockdown. In London, the walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman recently told BikeBiz that currently, the capital’s public transport capacity is running at a fifth of pre-crisis levels, meaning post-lockdown “up to eight million journeys a day will need to be made by other means. If people switch only a fraction of these journeys to cars, London will grind to a halt.”
The concern of transport specialists is not just how to prevent gridlock for commuters, but also how to keep essential delivery and emergency services running smoothly should the nation’s workforce choose to drive over taking public transport. Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps MP told Sky News on the weekend, 3rd May, that he sees cycling and walking as part of the solution: “Active transport can keep people off public transport and get people to work under their own steam – and that can be a very important part of this [the nation’s post-lockdown] recovery as well.”
Cycling UK has worked with academics from the Department for Transport (DfT) funded Cycling Infrastructure Prioritisation (CyIPT) project and looked at English cities with a high cycling potential.
The research has identified 99.2 miles (159.66 kilometres) worth of streets and roads in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, Leicester, Sheffield, Newcastle and Cambridge which could benefit from temporary walking and cycling infrastructure. In total these cities represent a quarter of the population in England.
Only stretches of road longer than 100m have been included in the analysis which suggests strong candidates for locations where temporary cycle lanes could deliver the greatest benefit. This includes dual carriageway roads and roads with high cycling potential as identified by another DfT funded project the Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT) and the CyIPT.
Dr Robin Lovelace, associate professor of transport data science at Leeds University, who conducted the research, said: “As this research based on the data, local knowledge and the wider evidence base shows, there’s a massive potential to get the UK moving safely as we begin to transition out of lockdown. Active transport interventions supported by our analysis could help UK’s economic recovery by allowing people to take key trips by healthy and affordable modes while practising social distancing. Active transport uptake now will also mean our cities have better air quality and safer roads in the longer term.”
In Scotland, the Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson announced last week £10 million of funding for local authorities to provide temporary space on the roads, so that people can safely distance from each other whilst walking and cycling.