Councils must make space for cyclists during lockdown, says Cycling UK

Cardiff City Council has installed 20mph speed limits and restricted parking, and Cycling UK is asking other councils to follow suit
Councils in England are being urged to follow the examples of Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow and install measures to make cycling and walking safer.

Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, has written to council leaders in Great Britain providing a guide on how councils can put in place measures during the coronavirus lockdown that are quick to set up and cost very little.  

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, said: 

“A small number of councils are leading the way across Britain, by being proactive in their measures against Covid-19. Introducing measures to make cycling and walking safer and social distancing easier is essential not just for right now, but also for the future when lockdown restrictions are relaxed. 

“The reality is the rollout of a vaccine, when it is found, is likely to take time but we will still need to get about. Social distancing is likely to be the “new normal” for quite some time – and that means people need more space to keep safe.  

“Cycling UK’s guide will help councils be proactive in keeping people safe in a cost- and resource-efficient manner.” 

Social distancing is likely to be the “new normal” for quite some time – and that means people need more space to keep safe.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK head of campaigns

Measures Cycling UK recommends councils adopt include: 

  • Creating temporary and wider cycle lanes using cones and planters 
  • Widening footpaths 
  • Stopping rat runs by closing residential streets  

By putting these in place, the charity says, councils will not just be making the roads safer for key workers on their way to work, families taking their daily exercise and individuals running vital errands, but will also make it easier for everyone to practise social distancing.  

Will Butler-Adams, CEO of Brompton Bicycle, backs the guide and said: 

“Around us, global cities are taking the lead in repurposing space for cycling and walking. We need the UK to be proactive, especially as increased cycling and walking, post-lockdown, will help mitigate against a second wave of infection. If cities don’t act now, it’s very likely that they will discover a huge increase in private car usage post-lockdown, with large impacts on health, air quality and productivity. We’d encourage everybody to write to their elected representatives and make the case and demand clear for cycling and walking during and after the pandemic.” 

Cycling UK has set up a simple online tool for people who want to see improved facilities for social distancing in their neighbourhood, which allows them to contact their council leaders and local councillor.  

Mr Dollimore said: 

“It’s simple – if you want improved conditions on your local roads and streets which will allow you to practise social distancing and be safer from other road traffic, then tell your council. They have a chance to make a difference right now, if they’re prepared to grasp it.” 

Dr Rachel Lee, policy and research manager at Living Streets, said in support of the campaign:  

“This pandemic is making us all realise how much public space is given over to individual car use rather than walking and cycling. Filtered neighbourhoods, banning cars from certain roads and tackling pavement parking can all help make our daily exercise easier and safer. 

“Towns and cities worldwide are starting to reallocate road space so people can carry out their daily exercise at a safe distance from others and free from road danger. Now we can start to follow their lead. With National Walking Month around the corner in May, there's never been a better time to get people moving towards active travel." 

Contact information:

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please call Sam Jones, communications and media manager, on 07584 271 300 or email Out of hours, call 07786 320 713. 

Notes to editors:  

  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone.  

  1. Cycling UK’s online tool can be accessed at:  

  1. WHO guidance states: “Whenever feasible, consider riding bicycles or walking. This provides physical distancing while helping you to meet the minimum requirement for daily physical activity, which may be more difficult due to increased teleworking, and limited access to sport and other recreational activities.”  

  1. In Brighton, road space along part of the sea front is being closed to motor vehicles and opened up to cycling and walking:  

  1. In Cardiff, a 20mph limit, restricted parking and a one-way system to discourage trips by car in a key location have been introduced:  

  1. In Edinburgh and Glasgow, councils say they are looking into temporary lanes and measures to provide space for more walkers and cyclists, as reported in The Scotsman: