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Social distancing - safe and sustainable travel on the road network

Our highways teams have continued to play an important role in keeping the county’s network of roads, cycleways and footways in a safe condition during the COVID-19 pandemic by carrying out routine highway safety inspections and essential maintenance.

As we start to consider the easing of lockdown restrictions: with employees returning to their places of work; schools and high streets reopening; and people accessing rural businesses and the countryside; we recognise the implications that this has for the many citizens who live or work in Staffordshire.

Report a social distancing issue

How are we enabling safe and sustainable travel?

Town centre management

We are working closely with district and borough councils to discuss how we can collaboratively enable social distancing, particularly for town centres as businesses start to reopen. This may involve the introduction of temporary physical features or where appropriate; we may for example introduce temporary traffic management measures targeted at key pinch-point locations.

We are also working with district and borough councils within Staffordshire to ensure that bus interchanges and bus stations implement measures to promote and enable social distancing. We are encouraging the use of this infographic (140 KB) in appropriate locations.

As public transport capacity is reduced, we are considering how we can promote and encourage walking and cycling and this may involve the reallocation of road space to support our transition out of lockdown.

The first stage of a £2 billion investment in cycling and walking has been announced by Government. The county council has been awarded £366,000 of a first tranche of £45m for spend on Emergency Active Travel, with temporary measures to be on the ground by no later than August 2020. The second tranche of £180m will be released in the summer for more permanent measures to cement walking and cycling habits.

Guidance for retailers

In the first instance retailers and other businesses should refer to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) guidance around how retail shops and others should enable social distancing within and outside their stores.

Our local highway teams can also offer further guidance and share examples of good practice where needed.

Useful links

Access to country parks and open spaces

Our large rural county is blessed with thousands of acres of beautiful open spaces, country parks and greenways and cycle tracks, as well as around 2,500 miles of Public Rights of Way.

These create many opportunities for safe walking and cycling between places of work and leisure. We have published information about county parks and greenways.

Walking and cycling improvements

Consideration of walking and cycling improvements and permanent measures to reallocate road space will be made in the normal way through established District/Borough Integrated Transport Strategies and the respective local county councillor’s Divisional Highway Programme (DHP).

Schemes will also continue to be delivered through the county council’s annual capital programme.

Promoting personal responsibility

No matter the setting or the location, or whether we live in Staffordshire or commute to a place of work here, each one of us has the most important part to play: being careful and vigilant, and ultimately being patient with one-another to help maintain social distancing.

How will we make use of government funding pledges for greener travel, and seek to improve cycling and walking infrastructure?

We have for many years invested in cycle and walking infrastructure and Staffordshire has one of the largest cycle training programmes for school children outside London. 

In February, we submitted our draft Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) to the Department for Transport (DfT) for comment. 

We have now started the formal consultation process on the LCWIP with responses sought up to 7 July 2020. The outcome of the consultation will inform the final version of the LCWIP expected to be published Summer 2020, in readiness for the next funding rounds.

There is now a link on our LCWIP webpage to our consultation hub where people are being asked to respond by completing the online survey.

Comments can be emailed to: transport.planning@staffordshire.gov.uk

The plan sets out a considered strategy of investment which includes some 200 schemes in the six main urban areas of Staffordshire to be delivered over a ten-year period as resources permit. This includes Burton upon Trent, Cannock, Lichfield, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Tamworth where there is the greatest demand and the largest potential for the transfer of short journeys to walking or cycling. If resources permit the LCWIP could be extended to cover other areas of Staffordshire. With our LCWIP in place we believe we are in an excellent position to invest additional Government funding and build on the infrastructure that is already in place.

This plan is central to our aims of achieving healthy living for residents, access to jobs and combating climate change.

The plan will help to contribute to the national targets of:

  • Doubling cycling activity journeys from 0.8billion in 2013 to 1.6billion in 2025
  • Increase walking activity to 300 journeys per person per year in 2025
  • Increase the percentage of children aged five to 10 that usually walk to school from 49% in 2014 to 55% in 2025

COVID-19 is not expected to change the LCWIP recommendations as the analysis is based on commuter trips, school trips, forecast demand from new development, and; gaps in the existing network.

Comprehensive maps providing details of existing cycle infrastructure in Staffordshire are available.

I want to cycle or walk more but I’m worried about road safety

Staffordshire has one of the safest county council road networks in the country, but we recognise it is difficult to predict where issues may arise as we all start to think differently about how we travel and maintain social distancing. 

Our current advice is that if you are concerned about wider road or cycle safety matters in a specific location, please firstly consider the information already available on our road safety pages.

It remains the case that the easiest way to report highway concerns in Staffordshire is by using our online Report It tool or the MyStaffs App to record your query in relation to traffic speeds or road safety. It is possible that our officers and Members are already working with other community representatives in your area to identify proportionate solutions.

We are keen to work with you and hear your thoughts on the sorts of interventions/measures which could be considered appropriate to facilitate social distancing whilst promoting sustainable travel and supporting the residents of Staffordshire.

I am concerned that a location cannot provide adequate social distancing for cyclists or walkers, where can I report this?

We want to increase people’s connectivity through cycling and walking to employment, education and leisure. This will support people to lead safer, healthier and more independent lives.

We are keen to work with you and hear your thoughts on the sorts of interventions/measures which could be considered appropriate to facilitate social distancing whilst promoting sustainable travel and supporting the residents of Staffordshire.

It remains the case that the easiest way to report highway concerns in Staffordshire is by using our online Report It tool or the MyStaffs App to record your query.

What else can I do to support safer and sustainable travel?

More people have been walking or cycling as a result of the coronavirus crisis and we want to see this continue as life gets back to normal.

For many years we have sought to promote and provide advice to communities on cleaner and greener travel, inspiring new travel options and their benefits. Our latest campaign, Air Aware Staffordshire has been promoting the health benefits associated from reduced car travel e.g. improved air quality for the local area and the fact air quality is at least twice as bad inside a vehicle than outside.

For more information on the Air Aware campaign and air quality please visit our #DoingOurBit website.

While there have been lower traffic volumes on many of our roads during lockdown, we also know that communities remain concerned about anti-social driving.

The Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) actively works with communities who have a speeding problem in their locality and can help to promote community-led initiatives such as Community Speed Watch or even a wheelie-bin sticker scheme.

The SSRP website offers advice and guidance on enforcement and educative schemes, which give communities the resources and confidence to address their concerns directly.

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