Why we need more space for cycling and walking during lockdown

A temporary cycle lane created specifically to make lockdown safer in Leicester
New temporary infrastructure could help key workers keep cycling during lockdown (Photo: Ride Leicester)
From Berlin to Bogotá, city authorities worldwide have acted rapidly to ensure the arrival of lockdown measures were accompanied by expanded space for cycling and walking. However, UK cities have been slow off the mark. Campaigns Manager Keir Gallagher explains what Cycling UK are doing to rectify that and how you can help.  

Take action

Write to your council today to ask for temporary cycle space in your area 

Creating space where people feel safe to cycle and walk is always fundamental when it comes to active travel, but the lockdown measures associated with Covid-19 have made the need for protected space more acute than ever.  

For starters, it’s become normal to move off the pavement onto the road to ensure we can pass others with the necessary distance, while narrow cycle lanes also create challenges. On the most basic level, increased space for cycling and walking is absolutely vital to ensure people can follow social distancing guidelines.  

What’s more, with cycling and walking amongst two of the few activities still permitted as part of daily exercise, it's hugely important that people who are returning to the bike – or even getting on one for the first time – feel safe to do so. Whether they’re out riding to keep fit, active, and mentally healthy, or they’re a key healthcare or other worker avoiding public transport on their commute, no one should be put off cycling at this time because they feel unsafe. 

Traffic cones and planters can be used to quickly create temporary cycling and walking space. Image cc Leo Suarez www.DTRaleigh.com

Cycling UK, working with partners across the UK, have already written to the Scottish, Welsh and UK governments to secure their support for temporary cycling and walking space, but it’s down to local authorities to actually put these measures into place, and that’s why we’re asking you to write to your councillor and council leader today. 

To make it as easy as possible you can use our draft emails to write to your council and help secure cycling and walking space during lockdown

What’s more, we’ve even made it easy for councils by creating a simple guide outlining what powers councils they have to make the necessary changes, highlighting that this can be done quickly and – best of all for cash-strapped councils – at a very low cost. 

As well as helping people feel safe to walk or cycle during this time, reallocating space away from motor vehicles will also help tackle the unfortunate rise of speeding, which has been a serious problem in some areas and is correlated to the drop in congestion. By reducing the road space for cars, their speed will drop too, keeping everyone – drivers included – safe.  

And while these measures could have huge benefits for people throughout the country, there’s no reason it should have any negative impact on key workers who still choose to drive to work, given that congestion has dropped by up to 70% compared to before the lockdown. 

There’s no reason for delay. 

Write to your council today.