Residents are being asked to highlight congested walking and cycling routes to help shape pop-up travel infrastructure in the Dorset Council area.
With the increased demand for walking and cycling – as well as capacity issues on public transport – during social distancing measures, a £225 million emergency active travel fund has been launched by the Government to support temporary improvements to sustainable transport during the pandemic.
Dorset Council has been awarded £577,000 and is now considering what measures could be taken to help residents with social distancing while travelling around towns, and in preparation for the restart after lockdown. Temporary solutions could include:
– Widening footways, especially on high streets, to ensure that those walking and queuing for essential goods can keep apart from each other
– Installing measures to restrict through-traffic from some streets to ensure that physical distancing can occur, especially on access routes to local amenities
– Installing temporary cycle lanes separated from traffic, particularly on routes where cycle use is high
To help plan and focus areas of work, the council is asking residents to make suggestions using an online map to highlight areas of concern and see what issues have already been raised. All suggestions will be examined but, due to funding limitations, not all submitted ideas can be progressed.
Councillor Ray Bryan, portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said: “We’re committed to helping residents move safely around towns and villages during social distancing, and we recognise this will get more difficult as further restrictions are lifted. This is a real opportunity for transformative change in how we make short journeys and we want to get it right – enabling our residents to continue their new-found walking and cycling habits for work and leisure.
“We are already engaging with parish and town councils to understand where the immediate crowding issues are that could negate social distancing efforts on high streets, but we need help from all parts of our communities to get a clear picture of concerns and priorities across the wider Dorset Council area.”
Suggestions will continually be analysed by Dorset Highways as they are submitted and prioritised by their benefit to walking, cycling and wheelchair users, with likely impacts on parking, access and delivery services taken into consideration before final schemes are submitted for funding approval.
Of the £577,000 awarded, £115,000 is for the short-term immediate measures needed to support social distancing and ensure safer town centres when shops reopen from 15th June, where town councils have played a significant role in identifying priorities. A further £462,000 is available for medium-term or permanent measures, with residents being asked to highlight concerns of pavement and cycleway pinch points.