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Calls for increased cycling infrastructure during pandemic

Joe Robinson
20 Apr 2020

Co-signed letter to government asks for more temporary cycling infrastructure to be introduced

Calls have been made for the Government to temporarily implement cycling and walking infrastructure during the coronavirus lockdown and beyond. In an open letter, key figures within cycling and the NHS have asked the Government to encourage local authorities to convert underused roads into temporary bike lanes and running paths to ease social distancing worries.

The letter asks for these changes to help key workers who are increasingly relying on active transport to get to work, rather than public transport, as a way of avoiding contracting the virus.

It also called for these temporary infrastructure changes to remain in place once lockdown restrictions had been lifted in order to lessen the chance of a 'second wave influx of coronavirus cases'.

Written by CEO of Brompton Will Butler-Adams and co-signed by six further bodies within cycling, walking and the NHS, it was addressed to Minister of Cycling and Walking Chris Heaton-Harris MP.

While it acknowledged the government's statement that confirmed local authorities could convert its roads into temporary cycling infrastructure, it called for more action.

'Our organisations would, however, urge you to go further and provide a clear positive ministerial statement encouraging local highway authorities to consider implementing temporary initiatives of this kind.' the letter states.

'That would give local authorities the confidence to quickly implement measures, enabling safe cycling and walking within the Government’s social distancing guidelines.

'In discussion with NHS colleagues, we know that these measures would have a positive impact in encouraging more health workers to cycle to work and have the added benefit of providing safe segregation or protection from motor traffic.'

The letter also cited the likes of Canada and Germany which have already successfully implemented temporary infrastructure changes in order to help with the increase of cyclists and walkers.

Beyond helping essential workers travel safely to work, Butler-Adams also stated that the measures could help with the surge in people taking up walking and cycling as per the Government's public health recommendations.

Co-signed by the likes of British Cycling CEO Julie Harrington and Dr Ian Basnett, director of Public Health at Barts Health NHS Trust, it also calls for these infrastructure changes to be kept in place once lockdowns are relaxed. 

'Post the current lockdown restrictions, a large proportion of the UK population will again be moving around towns and cities, but hesitant to use public transport where there is a greater risk of transmission,' wrote Butler-Adams.

'In order to mitigate against a second wave influx of coronavirus cases, we feel it prudent to plan ahead and implement these temporary measures now for key workers but also to allow the wider population to travel by bicycle or by foot in the short term as lockdown restrictions lift.'

Butler-Adams's company Brompton has been active in helping alleviate the travel worries of healthcare workers during the coronavirus lockdown. 

Having launched a crowd funder earlier in the month, Brompton is on track to produce 1,000 bicycles that are to be temporarily loaned to NHS workers for commuting during the pandemic.

Additionally, Cycling UK has offered free membership to all NHS staff members.

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