COVID brings new era for cycling and walking as Government releases £250m for urgent active travel schemes
29 May 2020
In response to the pandemic, the Department for Transport's (DfT) fast-tracked statutory guidance tells local authorities in areas with high levels of public transport use to take measures to reallocate road space to people walking and cycling. This is to minimise the burden on public transport systems to further protect the public from a ‘second wave’ and to retain the 70% increase in walking & cycling recorded since the COVID-19 crisis hit.
The government is bringing forward existing longer-term plans for significantly increased Active Travel across the UK. As 40% of journeys in urban areas are less than 2 miles many more people walking & cycling reduces carbon, pollution, congestion, collisions and wider population health issues.
CLOCS is increasing previous efforts to target and engage key decision-makers in many of the UK’s major cities, particularly those with established Walking & Cycling Commissioners, to quickly embed CLOCS in active travel strategies. This is to ensure the CLOCS Standard becomes ‘business as usual’ and to help the construction industry deal with the challenges this increasing pressure on footways and carriageways will present. The Government’s £250m immediate investment as part of its £5bn longer-term investment creates opportunities for CLOCS members, as does the inevitable use of the construction sector to stimulate the wider economy through brought forward wider capital investment plans.
But all existing and future projects will also need to plan for more restricted access and increased risk from the number of pedestrians & cyclists practicing safe distancing. This will also help prevent recurrence of the 1,008 fatal or serious collisions in 2018 between construction vehicles and pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. These collisions have increased in absolute numbers by 16% since 2014 but, perhaps in part to the active efforts of CLOCS Champions, the numbers have fallen relative by 31% to construction output (£bn).
CLOCS is already in discussion with the UK’s six leading Cycling & Walking Commissioners to enlist their support and influence to promote inclusion of the CLOCS Standard in planning policy and guidance. Chris Boardman, Manchester’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner, opened the “CLOCS across Greater Manchester” programme launch last October and co-presented the benefits of CLOCS with Will Norman (London’s Commissioner) to their counterparts. CLOCS, in partnership with a number of the UK’s leading professional bodies, is also writing to all 440 of the UK’s local authorities’ Chief Executives and all 33 metro mayors to urge immediate adoption of the CLOCS Standard in their planning and procurement policies.
CLOCS Champions are asked to boost efforts to influence all key decision-makers to accelerate their adoption of CLOCS and raise the standard required of all in the sector.