WORKS have been carried on the latest in a series of pop-up measures to aid social distancing, help local businesses and make it safer to cycle and walk in Leicester.
Over the last few weeks, pop-up schemes have been taking place to widen pavements at local shopping areas in order to provide outdoor space for social distancing, as well as miles of cycling and walking facilities installed on key routes into and out of the city, to assist key workers who use them for commuting.
The latest works include pavement widening on a section of Evington Road, between East Park Road and Conway Road, as part of the city’s Covid-19 response to help maintain social distancing on what is a very busy street. The existing cycle lane in nearby Evington Lane has also been strengthened with wands to demarcate it more clearly from the carriageway.
Last week, a 1.7km new pop-up cycle route was installed on Beaumont Leys Lane outbound from its junction with Abbey Lane to the Krefeld Way roundabout to create a safer pathway out of the city.
The 1.5-metre wide lane has been marked with lines and wands to segregate it clearly from other traffic, with parking suspended on the outbound side and residents instead advised to park on the inbound side of the road.
The scheme aims to provide a direct and safe connection to employment and retail areas such as Beaumont Leys Industrial Estate and Beaumont Leys Shopping Centre. The route also directly inks to the National Cycle Network 6 via Corporation Drive along the Riverside corridor, which itself connects to the city centre.
The outbound lane is uphill for a large stretch from Parker Drive onwards, so a wanded cycle lane will provide segregation between cyclists and motor vehicles – the longest route of its sort so far in the city.
The schemes form part of the wider Leicester Covid-19 Transport Recovery Plan which was published at the start of June, setting out how the city’s transport system can best meet the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic and help the city’s economy to recover, as well as securing longer-term environmental benefits.
The plan included a commitment by City Mayor Peter Soulsby to create a mile every week of new cycling and walking routes, both by using pop-up temporary routes or bringing forward the completion date for longer-term, permanent infrastructure projects from the ongoing Connecting Leicester works.
So far pop-up cycle tracks have also been installed at Aylestone Road, Saffron Lane, London Road, Hinckley Road and Abbey Park Road, with pavement widening work and other improvements on Belgrave’s Golden Mile, Braunstone Gate, Green Lane Road, Granby Street and Queens Road.
Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Beaumont Leys is home to important retail and employment areas of the city, and providing this safer cycling route means workers can access it more easily by cycle from the city centre.
“In terms of Evington Road, pavement widening and increasing the capacity for people to socially distance safely will be key to ensuring customers can have the confidence to return to visiting local business and shops in the area, as well as helping to reduce Covid-19 infection rates.”
In total £405,000 has been awarded to Leicester from the Government as the first funding allocation from a £250million budget for Active Travel Emergency Funding, which is being used to finance such schemes.
The council has pledged to continue its very popular Bike Aid scheme to supply reconditioned and donated bicycles to key workers, while later this summer the new Leicester Santander Bike Share scheme is due to be launched, allowing people to hire bikes from hubs across the city centre and other key areas.
Leicester deputy city mayor for environment and transportation, Cllr Adam Clarke, added: “More and more of these schemes, such as pop-up cycle tracks and pavement widening projects, are being put in place as part of our planning for the city both now and for the future beyond the lockdown restrictions.
“With around 40 percent of urban journeys in Leicester being under two miles, these additional safe routes are key to encouraging people walk and cycle rather than taking the car.
“As a city we all need to make that change and take the opportunities that the lockdown has presented, to make more sustainable transport choices.”
People can also now nominate streets that would benefit from more space for safe travelling and shopping, using the Widen My Path website.
The website allows anyone to put forward a location where more space or improvements for walking or cycling are needed, as well as showing support for an existing suggestion by voting for it.
The ideas submitted will help the city council prioritise where further improvements are needed. To make a nomination, or to view ideas already under consideration, visit: www.widenmypath.com/leicester
The Leicester Transport Recovery Plan is available to view on the council's website.
People can also gain reward points for walking and cycling using the BetterPoints smartphone app, with extra weekly prizes to celebrate the new pop-up cycle lanes and widened footways. You can download the app from the Choose How You Move website.