THE latest in a series of pop-up cycling and walking routes on major commuter routes in Leicester has been installed along a stretch of Hinckley Road.
Temporary cones and traffic signs have been put in place to designate the 1.2-mile inbound section of Hinckley Road, starting from Western Park and heading towards the city centre, as a safer cycling track. There are also plans to extend the track out to its junction with the outer ring road at New Parks Way.
The work is the latest in a series of emergency responses to the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus lockdown and the need to provide a network of safe, sustainable routes for key workers needing to commute.
It forms part of the wider Leicester Covid-19 Transport Recovery Plan which was published last week, 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.
Over the last few weeks, pop-up cycle tracks have been installed at Aylestone Road, Saffron Lane, London Road and Abbey Park Road.
Pavement widening work on Belgrave’s Golden Mile and Queens Road has taken place to help businesses by enabling customers and other visitors to maintain safe social distancing as businesses gradually reopen with the easing of lockdown restrictions.
The next phases of work are likely to include more cycle and walking routes linking to business areas of Beaumont Leys, more clearly segregating existing cycle lanes, and schemes at key local retail areas.
Last week the Government announced Leicester would receive £363,000 as the first funding allocation from a £250million budget for Active Travel Emergency Funding, which will be used to finance these 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.
In Leicester around 40 percent of urban journeys are under two miles, and by providing additional safe routes the city council wants to encourage as many people as possible to walk and cycle rather than use a car.
During the lockdown, traffic in the city – and subsequent nitrogen dioxide emission levels – fell to about 50 percent of its previous volumes, with bus usage at about 17 percent. Cycling increased in some outer areas of the city by between 170 percent, with walking also doubling on some routes.
Leicester deputy city mayor for environment and transportation, Cllr Adam Clarke, said: “We’ve seen from the pop-up cycle track schemes we have already put in place in Aylestone Road, Saffron Lane, London Road and Abbey Park Road just how popular they are, and it makes sense to continue installing them on major commuter routes in and out of the city.
“By helping as many workers, businesses and local communities as possible, we want to help get the city back moving in a safe and sustainable way, with a transport system that not only addresses the current coronavirus health emergency, but also the other emergency facing us all – the climate emergency.
“In creating more safe cycling and walking routes we want to encourage people to make that change and take the opportunities that the lockdown has presented, to make more sustainable transport choices.”