All over London boroughs are closing roads using the Covid-19 epidemic as a spurious excuse. Road closures do not help social distancing, rather the opposite. Councillors in many boroughs are pursuing their own agenda to remove all vehicles using Temporary Traffic Orders which are likely to be made permanent in due course unless you oppose them.
The following is a note you can send to your local Councillors to make sure they understand your views on the issue (their contact details are usually available on the Council’s web site):
In the current Covid-19 Epidemic, the Government is encouraging local Councils to introduce measures to temporarily:
a) Provide more social distancing for pedestrians – for example by widening pavements.
b) Encourage the use of active transport modes such as cycling or walking so as to relieve the pressure on public transport where there will be limited capacity in the short term and to encourage people to use other forms of transport than cars where increased use might lead to congestion.
That includes new Statutory Guidance under the Traffic Management Act 2004. The suggestion is that Temporary Traffic Orders might be used to implement such measures, where such Orders are required.
I have no objection to ensuring that pavements are sufficiently wide to avoid close contact, the possible suspension of parking bays to enable wider pavements and some provision of cycle lanes on a temporary basis so long as road space is not permanently removed. However, there is a suggestion that road closures might also be considered.
Closing roads (e.g. by the use of “modal filters” or “school streets” involving timed closures) provides absolutely no benefit in terms of social distancing and should therefore not be considered unless there are very good reasons to do so. Neither do they encourage cycling as roads can always be shared between cyclists and other road users.
In addition road closures delay emergency service vehicles who have to take longer routes or can get delayed by extra traffic congestion on main roads. When ambulances are delayed, seconds can count in keeping people alive.
Could you please therefore ensure that our local council does not close roads, even temporarily, in response to the Covid-19 epidemic. It is extremely important that the road network is maintained in a fit state and no artificial restraints are placed on it. Road closures can very rarely be justified even in normal times and it is particularly important at present not to create longer journey times and more traffic congestion.
It is also important to bear in mind that many disabled and elderly people rely on their motor vehicles and they will certainly not be capable or willing to cycle or walk instead. Regrettably the Government seems to have ignored a substantial section of the population in some of their advice but there is no good reason why you need to go to such extremes.
Please consider my comments above and advise your policy on this issue.
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