As the United Kingdom government is set to ease coronavirus lockdown measures, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, on May 9 announced a £2 billion package to boost cycling and walking. While addressing the daily news briefing, Shapps said that the money will ‘put cycling and walking at the heart of our transport policy’.
He also added, “The first stage, worth £250 million is a series of swift emergency interventions to make cycling and walking safer. Pop up bike lanes, wider pavements, cycle and bus only streets are all examples of what people will start to see more of”.
Britain – let’s #GetPedalling 🚴🏽♂ 👍— Dept for Transport #StayHomeSaveLives (@transportgovuk) May 9, 2020
People are #cycling and #walking more than ever, so we’re investing £2bn to create more space for people to cycle and walk while safely following social distancing guidelines.
Find out more 👉 https://t.co/1QCIxjjVEq pic.twitter.com/G44vvWOQMf
Shapps also explained that the ‘ambitious programme’ is to help prepare the transport network for the critical role it will be playing once the lockdown measures are eased. He added, however, moving beyond COVID-19 will be a gradual process and not a single leap to freedom. Furthermore, he highlighted that need to maintain social distancing as public transport cannot go back to where it left off.
He went on to say, "Even with public transport reverting to a full service, once you take into account the two-metre social distancing rule, there would only be effective capacity for one in ten passengers in many parts of our network - just a tenth of the old capacity. So getting Britain moving again while not overcrowding our transport network is going to require many of us to think very carefully about how and when we travel”.
While the Transport Secretary encouraged people to continue using bikes and ‘legs’ to get around, the country’s COVID-19 cases have been increasing rapidly. The UK currently has more than 215,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and the deadly virus has claimed nearly 31,587 lives in the country. Despite the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, UK PM Boris Johnson expressed optimism and said that the rate at which the virus is spreading among people was below one which is the outcome of the general public’s adherence to the social distancing measures. The UK authorities also believe that the virus is almost contained and the government, in the future, could both relax and tighten measures.