Residents in Devon can now easily share their views on the temporary measures Devon County Council has put in place to make more space for physical distancing during the Covid-19 crisis.
The council has made changes to roads in Exeter, including closing Wonford Road, Ludwell Lane and Dryden Road to motor vehicles, and adding a two way cycle lane and widened footpath on Magdalen Road. Elsewhere in the county, temporary cycle parking has been installed.
Residents using these spaces for their exercise or for essential journeys are now invited to give their views on the changes, using on online tool developed by walking and cycling charity Sustrans.
The map-based tool will help local authorities across the UK gather residents’ feedback and assess the impact of measures to create additional space for safe walking and cycling during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Residents can access the map online, where they are able to search for schemes in their local area, and complete a short form expressing their views on the street changes.
In recent weeks councils across the UK have rolled out a number of measures to increase space for walking and cycling, following similar changes in cities around the world. Such changes include:
- Streets closed to motor vehicles but open for people walking and cycling
- Creation of temporary cycleways separated from cars
- Widening of pedestrian footways (by extending it into the road)
- Installation of road filters (planting, bollards) to prevent through motor traffic
- Reduced speed limits for motor vehicles
Last month, the Government announced £250 million of funding to support local authorities to implement more measures like this, meaning that having evidence about what works is essential.
James Cleeton, Sustrans Director for the South of England, said “Walking and cycling have proved to be an important part of the UK’s resilience against the coronavirus crisis, in helping keyworkers to travel safely, enabling other essential journeys, and supporting people to maintain their wellbeing through exercise.
“Safe walking and cycling will have a key role to play in getting towns and cities moving safely as lockdown gradually eases. We need to understand changes to road layouts that have been made during this time, and how they might work as part of long-term plans to create healthier and pleasant streets for people.
“Hearing residents’ views will be crucial in helping us to understand what changes will be needed in the coming months.”
Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “As our towns and cities gradually start to re-open, we need to make sure everyone can socially distance safely, so these improvements for walkers and cyclists are designed with that in mind.
“We started by creating routes that mirror our proposed strategic cycle routes connecting the East of Exeter with Exeter city centre, and prioritised access to the RD&E hospital.
“The feedback so far has been positive, and further changes will be introduced over the next few weeks as the roll-out of this programme continues across other communities in Devon.
“We want to encourage more sustainable travel for residents while supporting local businesses, and hopefully create a legacy of safe and healthy travel for Devon.”
If you’re a resident and would like to let Devon County Council know how temporary infrastructure is performing, please fill out the survey here: www.sustrans.org.uk/spacetomove