We MUST NOT let the opportunity COVID 19 has given us to significantly change the ways we travel. The massive improvement in air quality as a result of the 60% drop in road traffic and the consequent disappearance of traffic congestion means we are improving the health outcomes for many of our residents. Added to that, the safer roads have meant more of our residents can cycle with confidence and walkers have much more pleasant journeys, again adding to better health. We must build on this and not allow our roads to return to the pre-COVID situation.
Grant Shapp`s announcement yesterday of £2 billion to improve walking and cycling infrastructure was music to my ears! If we are successful with a bid for a portion of that money we can implement most if not all the plans we already have in addition to the ones we are in the process of installing.
In our Integrated Transport Strategy the PCC Transport Team had already highlighted significantly improving walking and cycling facilities as outlined in our LCWIP (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans) but Covid19 has enabled us to bring some of those plans forward. We have identified 3 streams to our plans:-
Some `Quick wins` - things we can implement reasonably easily to address `safe distancing` which improve safety for walkers and cyclists and which don't cost huge amounts of money - because currently, we have lost a huge amount of money from parking which would normally make a significant contribution to fund schemes such as this. The schemes we are implementing in addition to the part closure of the seafront, include;
- Creating a bus and cycle only through route through Isambard Brunel Road, Guildhall Square, Guildhall Walk ( 2-way cycling) and the Terraces
- Cycles only in the southern part of Palmerston Road
- Creating a continuous cycle path on Elm Grove
- Intermediate schemes which depend on funding, such as safer `through routes` for cyclists and walkers (we're already asking Cycle Forum and Friends of the Earth to help us identify the best routes), Access for Residents Only for roads on these routes ( i.e. No Through Traffic), improving the appearance of streets so they are more pleasant for everybody to walk and cycle in and for local residents e.g. planters and more trees. These `through routes` would be part of a city-wide network of cycle and walking routes.
- Longer-term schemes such as the creation of the city-wide network increased bus services (when COVID 19 is really over) with lower fares so that more areas of the city are served with a bus route and it is affordable for people to use the buses instead of their cars. These longer-term schemes will take us well into our Integrated Transport Strategy which currently spans 15 years up to 2035.
If you look at Sadiq Khan`s strategy for transport in London, (StreetSpace) that is EXACTLY what we are aiming for. We HAVE to influence our residents to change their ways of travel in order to make our streets and roads healthier to be in, to make them safer, more pleasant and attractive for EVERYBODY and stop the dominance of the car on our roads. We need to RECLAIM OUR ROADS and we have the opportunity now to do it. If we don't take that opportunity NOW we will lose the chance to make this city a healthier place to live and work for all.
Cllr Lynne Stagg
Cabinet Member for Traffic & Transport
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