Reallocation of road space to support social distancing

Warwickshire County Council has been working at pace to develop plans which will see temporary measures introduced which reallocate road space to pedestrians and cyclists.

The focus of this work has been developing proposals designed to support the recovery and gradual re-opening of Warwickshire’s town centres as lockdown restrictions are eased. The plans will see road space reallocated to support social distancing so that businesses can operate, the public can return to these locations with confidence and that they can be reached safely on foot or by bicycle.

Plans are being prepared for all of Warwickshire’s town centres and incorporate key retail and leisure areas, connections to transport hubs, primary car parks and nearby employment centres, and the primary routes into and through town centres.

The location, extent and detail of schemes have yet to be finalised. The schemes will vary according to the characteristics and needs of individual towns but temporary measures could include a mix of full road closures, lane closures, the introduction of one-way systems and the suspension of some on-street town centre parking.

The measures will be introduced using temporary traffic management such as barriers, cones and signs including signs recently introduced by the Department for Transport to communicate social distancing messages and reminders to pedestrians.

Councillor Jeff Clarke, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Transport and Planning, said:

“The County Council is advancing with plans to temporarily change road layouts in our towns to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians and support social distancing. The first phase of this work is looking at how we can reallocate road space to reinvigorate our town centres and support the economic recovery.

“We are progressing this work rapidly with the aim of rolling out measures to coincide with the reopening of non-essential shops from 15 June onwards as announced by the Government. Future phases of work will consider additional infrastructure to encourage sustainable travel including accelerating delivery of our cycle infrastructure programme. A separate piece of work is looking at measures which may be required to support social distancing as part of school access arrangements.

“We will be monitoring schemes closely to ensure they remain suitable and appropriate to local conditions in what is a fast-changing situation. The measures are intended to be temporary and, over time, we expect them to be reduced or removed as social distancing measures are relaxed and traffic levels increase.  We will, however, also be looking at whether there is an opportunity to take advantage of the recent upsurge in cycling and walking and embed this behavioural change to bring lasting positive benefits for health and the environment.

“Developing solutions across Warwickshire is a significant and resource intensive task. There are a wide range of issues and community needs which require careful consideration and balancing. This includes the availability of traffic management equipment and the cost of introducing and maintaining measures which could run to several million pounds depending on the extent and duration of the interventions.”

On 9 May, the Government announced a £250 million emergency active travel fund for pop-up and temporary interventions which create a safe environment for walking and cycling. Warwickshire has received an indicative allocation £1.288 million from this fund.