Wiltshire Council is working on a series of projects to make significant changes to road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians, following recent guidance from the Department of Transport to reallocate road space in response to COVID-19.
As the number of cars on the road has fallen considerably in recent months, more people have been walking and cycling for exercise and to travel to essential work. Because of the reduction in traffic, people have been able to walk and cycle safely.
However, as lockdown restrictions are eased, increased levels of traffic may make it more dangerous for people to walk or cycle safely and maintain the 2m social distancing requirement. Current government advice is that people should avoid using public transport.
To capitalise on this, Wiltshire Council has formed teams of officers for each of its 18 community areas, which will work closely with local members and town and parish councils to identify potential sites, using their local and technical knowledge to swiftly progress these schemes.
Anyone with suggestions for potential sites should email Integrated.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “We’re keen to develop reallocated road spaces to encourage walking and cycling as soon as possible, and we’re working closely with local members and town and parish councils to ensure there is local support for any scheme that is progressed.
“We don’t yet know how many schemes we’ll be able to take forward in Wiltshire, as the funding from central government has yet to be finalised, but we’re looking to create as many cycling and pedestrian schemes as we can to really capitalise on the behavioural changes many have made during lockdown.
“All potential schemes will be assessed against agreed criteria by a panel of officers, which will enable them to identify a priority list for design and implementation. They will identify practical solutions that will see other changes in our streets – for example, some schemes may replace some current parking spaces.
“If the schemes are successful, there is a chance they will become permanent, but this would be decided on a case by case basis.
“We’re expecting to work on these changes through the summer.”
Once the schemes are agreed and progressed, on the ground, people will see changes in road markings, plus the addition of fixed bollards and barriers to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe and to enable social distancing.
Most proposals are not likely to require Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TTRO), but where they are required, they will be subject to cabinet member approval. Where applicable, the council will also undertake road safety and accessibility audits before schemes are implemented.