Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “I’m pleased we’ve been able to respond so quickly to secure Government funding to use for initiatives that both support the local economy and protect public health following the Coronavirus lockdown.
“In just a few weeks, our teams have installed a significant number of temporary transport ‘pop-ups’ across the county, using road space differently to allow people to walk and cycle at a safe social distance, giving them confidence to return to the high street; and there are more underway leading up to the return to school in September. We have had a great deal of public interest in this initiative and many ideas for schemes have been suggested. We are working through these as quickly as we can with the resources and capacity we have available. The vast majority of the schemes we have put in have been welcomed, are effective and are being well-used. I really am very proud of what we’ve delivered on this scale, and at this pace.
“While these schemes offer clear health and environmental benefits, I am fully aware that introducing measures that fundamentally change the way people travel is never going to achieve universal support, and that public opinion within a community may be divided. With one or two schemes we have also found that they have not proved effective in practice, and we have therefore taken them out again.
“Where a scheme is being proposed locally which has divided opinion, or where there may be technical questions that it will work in practice, the only way to resolve such differences of opinion may be to trial it temporarily to find out. In such circumstances, we keep schemes under continual review, and initially only use temporary materials that can be removed and re-used elsewhere, as quickly as they were put in.
“A good example of such a scheme is work to remove vehicles from Fleet High Street, initially suggested by Hart District and Fleet Town Council which we have agreed to trial to test its effectiveness, and the impact of diverting traffic onto other routes. Work to put the initial temporary trial scheme in is due to start this Monday (24 August). I understand the concerns raised with me by some in the community, as well as the reasons why it is supported by others. We will carefully monitor this scheme and review its effectiveness and performance within the first two weeks. We will act quickly to remove the measures if the scheme is not achieving what it is designed to do – that is to support Hampshire’s recovery from Covid-19 for all those who live and work here.”
Hampshire County Council invited suggestions on where temporary cycling and walking measures might be put in place from residents, communities and organisations, and over 3,500 suggestions were received. The temporary walking and cycling schemes to enable social distancing which have been put in place across Hampshire are funded by the Department for Transport's Emergency Active Travel Scheme.
A bid to Government for a further £3.45 million has been submitted by Hampshire County Council to deliver a range of schemes to help redesign roads and high streets to support social distancing, assist economic recovery and support people who want to continue walking and cycling more. The outcome of this bid is expected in the Autumn.More information