We must act now to stop cars taking over our cities

Jon Bewley_Sustrans_1906q201_Cambridge 2

The government’s £250m for redesigning our roads should be targeted at residential areas as well as town centres, says Giulio Ferrini

Lockdown has transformed our lives. With many working from home, we have rediscovered local shops, our parks have become our gyms and we have barely left our neighbourhoods. With the improved air quality and quieter streets, we are more often interacting with neighbours and children are skipping ropes and learning how to ride a bike.

With physical distancing requirements in place for the foreseeable future, public transport providers have warned that buses, trains and tubes will only be operating at 15-20% of capacity. As lockdown loosens, this means new travel patterns and mobility choices. Will car owners start driving more? Will there be an increase in private hire vehicle use? Will people look to cycling, walking or electric scooters?

The mayor of London continues to ask people to avoid travelling where possible and to walk and cycle any trips they can, leaving space on public transport for those without an alternative. The government has demanded local authorities “take measures to reallocate road space to people walking and cycling”. Time is of the essence, with £250m of funding accelerated and the Department for Transport saying: “Measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks, given the urgent need to change travel habits before the restart takes full effect”.

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