Bedford’s Green Party councillors are calling for safer spaces for cyclists and pedestrians following Government advice that people should currently avoid public transport where possible due to the need for social distancing.
Lucy Bywater and Ben Foley, councillors for Castle Ward, are asking the Borough Council to modify roads and pavements to encourage residents to get on their bikes or consider walking rather than taking the car.
Quieter roads and improved air quality have been the positive side effects of the lockdown, leading more key workers cycling and walking to work, as well as individuals and families cycling and walking for exercise and enjoyment.
Meanwhile there is a link between COVID-19 recovery and fitness and official advice is that ‘active travel can help us become more resilient’.
The councillors point out that local councils are now expected by the Government to make ‘radical changes to their roads to accommodate active travel’.
Two weeks ago Lucy and Ben proposed modifications to some Bedford town centre roads which have busy narrow pavements.
Cllr Bywater said, “This is to allow the greater number of pedestrians and cyclists to get around safely with provision for adequate social distancing.”
“It also allows safer queuing outside shops, giving people adequate space from passing pedestrians,” added Cllr Foley.
Although Ben and Lucy acknowledge that government funding for these sort of changes is likely to be small and Government detail has been slow, they want to see changes made as swiftly as possible, particularly before there is any larger scale return to work and school.
Ben said, “It’s frustrating it has taken so long given that lives depend on effective distancing and in the Government’s own words this is a ‘once in a generation opportunity to deliver a lasting transformative change in how we make short journeys in our towns…’.
“It’s essential all possibilities are thoroughly explored and suitably implemented, including using pop up cycle lanes, bollards and barriers to widen pavements and crossings, ‘School streets’ with reduced vehicle access and reduced speed limits.”