In an effort to encourage commuters to forgo public transport in favour of riding to work, the government has unveiled a new £250m investment into cycle lanes within the UK.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, announced the funding on Saturday whilst at the Downing Street coronavirus briefing. The move is being made in a bid to prevent another wave of COVID-19 infections.
According to the Press Association, there are also plans to fast-track the trialling of e-scooters on British roads. As it stands, electric scooters are not permitted on roads and pavements.
Back in March, the government started a consultation regarding the legalisation of e-scooters. Secondary legislation would need to be passed in order for their use to become legalised.
There have also been calls from campaigners for a redesigning of the transport system from the ground up in order to prevent air pollution levels bouncing back once the lockdown is lifted.
Studies have revealed that COVID-19 mortality rates may be linked to air pollution, with dirty air weakening the lungs and heart.
The UK secretaries of state for the environment and for transport, among others, have been sent an open letter written by a group of organisations, which include Transport Action Network and Greenpeace. The letter reads:
“It would be completely absurd if, after the unprecedented efforts and sacrifices made to save thousands of lives from Covid-19, we allowed thousands more to be cut short by the devastating impacts of toxic pollution”.
Protected cycle tracks, wider pavements, and the limiting of traffic in shopping and residential streets, are some of the demands made by the group. The group are also calling for cycling and walking to be prioritised along main roads, as well as networks of low-traffic neighbourhoods.
A 20mph speed limit in built-up areas, and the ban of new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2030, have also been suggested.
A poll conducted by YouGov found that 71% of people have concerns about the levels of pollution once the lockdown is lifted, with 58% backing cycle lanes being introduced along urban main roads.
Greenpeace UK’s head of politics, Rebecca Newsom, said: “There are many things about the lockdown people will be glad to leave behind, but cleaner air is not one of them”.
“Yet there’s a real risk that congestion and toxic pollution will be back on our streets as soon as restrictions are lifted”.
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