Socially distanced cycling and walking schemes require rapid and major shift

A £2 billion package to facilitate socially distanced walking and cycling has been heralded as the largest ever boost for cyclists and pedestrians in the UK.  The plans will help encourage more people to choose alternatives to public transport, making travel healthier and ensuring transport networks and infrastructure are able to manage the increase in demand as the country emerges from lockdown.  Motion’s Managing Director Phil Bell takes a closer look at the detail and assesses the implications.

The Department for Transport’s statutory guidance has been revised to accommodate the measures under the Traffic Management Act 2004.  The initiative’s key features are:

  • Pop-up cycle facilities with segregation from other traffic, as far as possible
  • Use of cones and barriers to widen footways along length of roads, especially outside shops and transport hubs
  • Walking and cycling to school incentives
  • Reductions in speed, with wider adoption of 20 mph limits in residential areas and through streets
  • Pedestrian and cycle zones, with restricted motor vehicle access in town centres and high streets
  • Additional cycle parking facilities
  • Changes to junction design to accommodate more cyclists
  • ‘Whole-route’ approaches for creation of corridors for buses, cycling and access
  • Modal filters to enable closure of roads to motor traffic
  • The acceleration of planned permanent schemes that can be constructed quickly

Revisions to existing public realm features should be prioritised, to create clearly defined corridors for the free flow of different modes of transport, including travel by foot.  Traffic signage will need to be quickly reviewed, to help inform the travelling public of changes to road layouts.  Provision for travellers with disabilities, as well as for delivery and servicing vehicles, will also need to be carefully considered.  Access will still be required for street works, maintenance and highway works.  Corresponding incentives to encourage more electric vehicle use, and measures to introduce rapid charging points, will also impact on scheme designs and road layouts.

Milan has recently begun work on creating 22 miles of new cycling and walking schemes, which are due to be completed this summer.  With officials working round the clock in planning departments across the UK and the rest of the world, it comes as no surprise that the London mayor stated that COVID-19 poses the biggest challenge to London’s public transport network in TfL’s history.  I would welcome a debate amongst property developers, transport planners and policy makers about the what, where, when and how involved in this major shift.

For further information about Motion’s transport and travel planning capabilities, call us on 01483 531300 or email

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