11 May 2020
Green Party councillors have called for cycling and walking to be made safer in Norwich, by reducing the space taken up by cars so that people have more room to socially distance on roads.
On Saturday, the Government said that local councils should, within a matter of weeks, create more space for people walking or cycling. The measures urged by the Government include installing “pop-up” new cycle lanes, widening existing cycle lanes and pedestrian areas, reducing speed limits, and closing roads entirely to cars, especially around schools, amongst other suggestions.
There is also the possibility of trialling the use of e-scooters in cities, as trials have been brought forward from next year to June this year.
The Government says that these measures must be in place before people can safely return to work.
Green Party councillors pointed out that as fewer people will be using public transport, due to the difficulty of social distancing, there is a need to ensure other options are available and Norwich does not get clogged with cars. This will be especially important so children can get to school without putting themselves at risk either from catching the virus on crowded pavements, or from traffic.
Green Party councillor for Thorpe Hamlet ward, Ben Price, said, “It is tremendously important that local councils ensure people who need to travel can do so safely. These necessary changes should be a priority for Norfolk and Norwich councils, so that we are ready to reopen as a city without undue risk.”
Green Party councillor for the city centre’s Mancroft ward, Jamie Osborn, added, “These measures will not only help keep people safe from coronavirus, they will also protect children from air pollution, which has been shown to increase the risk of coronavirus. In addition, making it easier to walk and cycle now will have benefits for tackling the climate emergency.”
Several councils including Suffolk County Council have already closed roads to enable safer walking and cycling.