County council announces infrastructure changes to encourage cycling and walking

Essex County Councillor Kevin Bentley

Essex County Councillor Kevin Bentley - Credit: Archant

Essex County Council has announced a series of measures to encourage cycling and walking.

ECC said it will expand the cycle path and footway network across towns and city centres, which will allow people to travel in a more environmentally-friendly way, as well as ensure social distancing.

The measures have been deemed necessary following the government’s decision to allow people who must return to work to do so, while ensuring a safe distance of two metres from anyone who is not a member of the same household.

Many pavements and cycleways in Essex are too narrow to allow social distancing according to the council, so change is necessary to encourage new, healthier ways of travelling locally.

In order to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists more, Essex Highways is planning to make temporary changes to the road network.

Councillor Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet member for infrastructure, said: “Our longer-term ambition is to maintain lower levels of private car use in urban areas, so that walking and cycling become the preferred choice for shorter journeys. We’ll be talking to cycling groups in Essex to garner their input, and this approach will also lead to an improvement in city and town centre air quality.

“We can’t embark on a complete overhaul of the road network into Essex’s urban areas, but there are temporary cost-effective tweaks we can make to the road layout, which will improve access to our town and city centres for people who are walking, cycling or using public transport.”

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Changes considered include placing barriers on footways and public spaces, creating temporary walking and cycling lanes with cones and barriers to enable access to central areas on foot or by bike, removing some lanes for motor traffic and creating waiting areas on shopping streets.

They also include removing through motor traffic from certain streets, working with police to tackle safety issues such as vehicle speeds, assisting with the reintroduction of bus and rail services in a way which promotes their safe usage and ensuring that traffic levels do not increase to the extent they inhibit the movement of people, goods and services through increased congestion, pollution and carbon emissions.