These are unprecedented times, bringing both challenges and opportunities. There is an opportunity to build on changes in behaviour seen during lockdown. The Prime Minister has been clear that as the country emerges from lockdown, people should walk or cycle where possible. Walking and cycling will reduce pressure on the public transport system and the road network.
To help with this, the Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF) announced on 9 May included £225 million of funding in two tranches for local authorities. Alongside the funding, the Government published additional Network Management Duty guidance. This clearly set out what the Government expects local authorities to do in making changes to their road layouts to encourage cycling and walking in response to COVID-19 and to support a green restart and recovery.
Active travel clearly does not work for everyone, or for every journey, but the more people that cycle and walk, the more road space is freed up for those who really need to drive.
The Government is also investing in road and rail. On 14 May the Department laid out plans to transform the country’s transport infrastructure to help the country ‘build out’ of COVID-19 and support the nation’s economy through a £1.7bn Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund to improve roads, repair bridges and fill in millions of potholes.
We are also increasing our investment in the operation, maintenance and renewal of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) to secure safer and more reliable journeys. Our second Road Investment Strategy, published in March, requires Highways England to meet the ambition that average delay on the SRN will be no worse than then in 2025, and sets tough targets for keeping the SRN free from traffic restrictions owing to roadworks and the clearance of incidents within one hour.