Cycling during and after Coronavirus lockdown

ACCOMPANYING EMAIL BELOW LETTER

Re: Measures to support cycling during and after the Coronavirus lockdown

Dear Councillor Evans

We are writing to express our concern that not enough is currently being done in Plymouth to support those who choose to cycle at this time.

Cycling has the benefits of being excellent exercise and good for people’s mental health, recognized as being particularly important at the moment. It is quite possible to remain physically distanced, minimizing the risks, and is an effective mode of transport reducing air pollution, which has been associated with increased susceptibility to the virus. Cycling is also attractive to those at home with children, to provide exercise and emotional benefits of getting out with your family. Numbers cycling in Plymouth and elsewhere have increased as a result of the lockdown, with low traffic volumes encouraging many to cycle who have not ventured on to the roads before, and we would like to see more being done to support them.

While road traffic is down, there are still some who drive without due care and the danger from traffic to those cycling on the roads is still a major deterrent to cycling. Shared use paths and two-way cycle paths have become less usable as it is not possible to retain the 2m safe distance when using them.  We would like to see temporary measures on wider Plymouth roads restricting the traffic to the outside lane, coning off one lane to be used by cyclists and walkers. This would be particularly useful on Embankment Road (where the current shared path, already unfit for purpose, is now unusable as it is so narrow) and also on other roads such as Mutley Plain/North Hill, Union Street, and Alma Road.

This has already been done in Brighton, Lambeth and Leicester  as well as Berlin, Milan, Paris, Pittsburgh and many other cities abroad, and is planned in Manchester.  The changes to the traffic regulations make it easier to put these temporary measures in place without lengthy consultations.

We would also like to see other measures to promote cycling. Reduced speed limits to 20mph in residential areas, 30mph on roads that are currently 40mph would make a significant difference to cyclists safety. The LED signage could display messages reminding drivers that speed limits are being enforced, and to take particular care around cyclists and walkers in the road.

As lockdown measures are eventually relaxed it would be great to see some of these measures continue and the increase in cycling sustained. It is probable that public transport will be avoided by many for a long time, and there is a concern that when people return to work traffic will increase greatly. We would like to see PCC promoting cycling as a means of transport effectively and giving cycling infrastructure the priority it deserves to keep traffic levels down. The climate emergency has not gone away, and while clearly our main concern at the moment is saving lives from the virus, in the longer term increasing numbers cycling will benefit the environment, improve people’s health and reduce congestion.

Yours sincerely

Clare Smith
Chair
Plymouth Cycling Campaign

Copied via email to:
Luke Pollard MP
Sir Gary Streeter MP
Johnny Mercer MP
Paul Barnard Service Director for Strategic Planning & Infrastructure at Plymouth City Council
Rosemary Starr Transport Smarter Choices Manager Plymouth City Council
Jim Woffenden Transport Planning Officer Strategic Planning and Infrastructure
Jeremy Gosling Plymouth City Council Councillor and Cycling Commissioner

ACCOMPANYING EMAIL

Dear Tudor Evans

Please find attached a letter from the Chair on behalf of the committee of the Plymouth Cycling Campaign. Action to encourage safe cycling in Plymouth is currently a matter of life and death. We hope you will agree and respond urgently outlining your plans.

Because of the likelihood that people will be uncomfortable using public transport we foresee an increase in the use of cars after lockdown, surely something that Plymouth, having signed up to the Climate Emergency, will not wish to see. Time is running out for the Council to recognise that urgent plans are needed to ensure this does not happen by encouraging people to continue cycling once lockdown is lifted or relaxed.

We hope you and your colleagues recognise this and take immediate steps to follow the lead of many other authorities throughout the World. In the UK schemes are underway in many cities. So much is happening it’s difficult to keep up, but herewith an opensource (Google Docs) document showing Authorities that have already planned or opened new cycleways in quick time. It would be good to see Plymouth on this list.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1hSEchdxQ7X2bdPD8NBJva0-fLRSjAOCedMXtAhBJk3o/edit?usp=drivesdk

Manchester have just announced a road closure and footpath scheme widening in the city centre. This is what Leicester are doing:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carltonreid/2020/04/27/uks-first-pop-up-cycleway-a-keyworker-corridor-installed-in-king-richard-iiis-leicester/#32e5e2e13416

Paris is planning 650 km of cycleways, mostly using space currently used by cars. Milan is building 65 km as we speak. There are many other examples too numerous to mention. If you’d like to see other initiatives around the World visit the Twitter page of Mobycon:

https://twitter.com/mobycon/status/1255829591161221120?s=09&fbclid=IwAR3lCUhNv2zZNnanWgkKDuyWaP6bUI1OezGKudoYd2s88RVVMiaxJcAeLCw

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