Emergency walking and cycling schemes due to coronavirus

During 2020, Buckinghamshire Council introduced a range of measures to support people travelling to work, school, shopping and leisure activities. This was done through active travel (walking and cycling) methods as part of the Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund.

Using the £514,000 investment, we implemented a programme of ‘pop-up’ and temporary emergency active travel schemes across the county. The schemes aimed to encourage residents to undertake more local journeys by foot and by bike. Potential longer-term benefits included:

  • reduced congestion
  • improved air quality
  • improved community cohesion
  • better public health

The schemes also helped to contribute to our policy in combating climate change.

The temporary schemes were adjusted through the trial period in response to feedback received and performance.

In March 2022, schemes were either decommissioned or made permanent (following public statutory consultations during December 2021 to January 2022).

Initial plans

The schemes focussed on:

  • widening and extending footways and cycleways
  • junction closures and new one-way systems that make it safer for walking and cycling
  • encouraging more journeys by bike
  • additional cycle parking

We made every effort to deliver trial schemes in line with the latest government design standards. These required that, wherever possible, cyclists should be given space on the carriageway and segregated from both vehicles and pedestrians, except where traffic levels are very low.

Schemes were chosen based on known local walking and cycling priorities.

Funding

The schemes were implemented through the Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund and the terms and conditions of this meant that funding could only be spent on schemes which:

  • reallocated carriageway space to walking and cycling
  • used temporary ‘pop-up’ materials and measures, so no engineering or changes to existing kerb lines were possible

This meant that we are not able to use the funding for maintenance purposes.

Schemes were selected which complemented existing networks and future strategic ambitions wherever possible.

Monitoring the schemes

Schemes ran for a minimum initial duration of three months on a trial basis, trial durations varied by scheme and further details can be found under each scheme sub-heading. Schemes were monitored through:

  • cycle and pedestrian audits / counts
  • feedback from residents, users, members, town and parish councils and Community Boards

The schemes were implemented under a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order in line with Section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

Consultation

The schemes were implemented under the government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund which had short, centrally-set, timescales. Due to this, a public consultation was not possible prior to schemes being implemented. However, local engagement was undertaken with; local members, town and parish councils, community boards, schools, religious organisations, and emergency services. Letters were sent to residents local to the scheme as well as other local parties such as shops and taxi operators.

Public feedback could be submitted during the period of the trials.

The emergency services were consulted about these schemes as part of the Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders. They did not raise any objection to the proposals and were able to update their routing accordingly in response to changes to public highway. In an emergency, blue light vehicles are not bound by certain traffic regulation orders such as one-way streets.