Could York follow Vancouver and Berlin making space for walking and cycling?

As the sun shines again bringing more people out of their houses for ‘local exercise’, Executive Member for Transport Cllr Andy D’Agorne has asked officers to urgently investigate options for temporary extra space for people walking and cycling around their neighbourhoods getting their daily exercise. In response to rules about social distancing during the Coronavirus emergency Vancouver has made roads in Stanley Park traffic free, and Berlin has introduced temporary wider cycle lanes to cater for increased numbers walking and cycling and quieter urban roads. Last Monday Brighton and Hove Council closed Madeira Drive along the seafront to allow more space for those out walking for exercise: https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18388357.coronavirus-brighton-council-closes-madeira-drive-cars/

Now in York, Green councillor Andy D’Agorne has asked officers to look at what measures could be quickly applied here, especially to allow residents to get exercise while maintaining 2m distance from others in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Last week City of York Council reinstated the placement of bollards around the footstreets area of the city centre to protect pedestrians (key workers and local residents) from drivers illegally cutting through the area during footstreet hours. This had been suspended to save staff time when there is so little footfall, but has been reviewed in the light of reports of abuse of the regulations.

 Cllr D’Agorne said “with the stay home message, far more people are out walking about. While the dramatic drop in traffic on the roads has increased danger from some drivers speeding, people are walking in the road to keep their distance from others walking the other way. Temporary changes to discourage speeding in side streets and make better use of roadspace for exercise would be appreciated by many at this time.”

A local petition has recently been launched calling for such action, https://www.change.org/p/city-of-york-council-make-room-for-cycling-in-york-during-covid-19-crisis  but councillor D’Agorne has already invited those supporting it to let their ward councillors know about locations where they would find it most useful to extend provision for walking and cycling.

“There is still a legal process to follow even for temporary measures, but I am keen to see what can be done as simply and cheaply as possible on a temporary basis” said Cllr D’Agorne

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