Streets for walking and cycling during Covid-19

27th Apr 2020

Barriers to imposing car-free streets are being lifted following a government decision to enable key workers to walk or cycle more safely. This podcast features an interview with Roger Geffen, Policy Director at Cycling UK.


With approximately one-third of the global population in lock-down, vehicle traffic from the road network has reduced considerably.  There has been a decline in public transport use in the UK.  But essential workers are still needing to get to work and one of the ways of supporting them is by closing some streets to vehicle traffic and reallocating road space for walking and cycling.  

New Zealand has a plan to fund wider footpaths and cycle paths to help people stay apart to help manage social distancing during Covid-19.  A number of countries and cities across the world are implementing similar plans.  Berlin and Madrid have also looked to support car-free streets to take advantage of reduced car travel during the pandemic.

The UK government recently relaxed procedures for making temporary changes to roads following a call from a number of organisations to do so, and thereby allowing car-free streets to be implemented.  The first local authority to take advantage of these new powers was Brighton.

But wider plans for more car-free streets could be implemented by local authorities across the UK.  As Roger Geffen, Policy Director at Cycling UK explained in the CIHT podcast.  Roger said the followings routes could be considered for cycling:  "The route to the hospital or the route to the park so that parents and their children can get there in safe cycle conditions.  As we start to approach the possibility of schools re-opening we should start thinking about the route to the school so that the children can get there without a revival of the car transport and giving them the opportunity of healthy travel"

Cycling UK has produced a guide for local authorities, see:

CIHT blog Local active transport - helping address impact of coronavirus






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