Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council said: “The Coronavirus pandemic has altered our views on how we live and how we travel. With more people cycling and walking, this is a critical time for us to decide how we want to move about in the future and seize the opportunities we have to shape a clean, healthy and sustainable transport future for Hampshire.
“We’ve already made some immediate changes across the county to traffic signals and signs, to give pedestrians more space and time. The next stage will be work on the ground to install physical measures which provide more space for safe social distancing.”
Changes already in place include:
· Following a review of all pelican, puffin and toucan crossings, waiting times at 166 crossings have been reduced in favour of pedestrians;
· Traffic signals have been altered at some of Hampshire’s busiest town centre traffic signal junctions, increasing the frequency that the pedestrian stage appears, and the amount of green time provided to cross the road by foot;
· As well as national messages to Stay Alert and maintain social distancing, many electronic traffic information signs now inform motorists to slow down, share the road and look out for pedestrians and people on bikes.
Work starting next week on some of the first schemes in Hampshire to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists, with more to follow, includes:
· Giving more space over to pedestrians on the one way system in Winchester. including Jewry Street and North Walls;
· New signs in some of Romsey’s narrow lanes which lead to the main shopping area to ensure those walking can maintain a safe social distance from each other; and
· Using on-street parking space on Marine Parade East in Gosport to widen the footway for cyclists and pedestrians.
Further schemes are in development to support retail spaces which mean taking traffic and parking out of our town centres to create space. These plans are being developed with Hampshire’s district and borough councils, Business Improvement Districts, town and parish councils, and other organisations who have expressed an interest.
Councillor Humby continued: “We’ve been collecting ideas from the community to help us prioritise areas, and we’re in line for national funding of £863,000 which the Government has indicated we will receive on the strength of our proposals.
“This will enable us to get going on this first set of changes, and we plan to build on this by reviewing what’s working well and what we might need to change. We’re committed to continual engagement with the community on local priorities, and we have set up an online platform for organisations and people to make their suggestions, and see what others think. We will then be ready to bid for further national funding later in the summer and continue to help Hampshire’s residents make healthier and greener journeys as we support the economic recovery of our county.”
Communities, schools and residents are encouraged to make suggestions for schemes which support social distancing at: www.hants.gov.uk/transport/transportschemes/hantscovidtravel with priority given to those ideas with the potential to make the most positive impact and which meet Government criteria for funding.