CHANGES will take place over the coming weeks to temporary cycle routes and pavement-widening schemes introduced at the beginning of the pandemic.
Leicester City Council introduced a network of pop-up cycle tracks on key commuter routes and footway widening measures in busy shopping streets during 2020, to help ensure hospital workers and other key staff could cycle and walk safely to and from the city and allowing shoppers to observe social distancing measures, with carriageway narrowing reducing vehicle speeds.
Now, with the city steadily reopening as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, more traffic is once again using the routes, including the new Park and Ride electric bus services which come into use next week.
Some of the pop-up routes are being removed or redesigned, while others could be made permanent - subject to public consultations over the coming months - as part of an ongoing review of them.
Since 2012, the city council has invested more than £70m in creating cycling-friendly streets, people-friendly public squares, public transport hubs and cycle tracks along main roads. An estimated 18,000 daily cycling journeys take place across the city’s cycling network.
In the first instance, the pop-up cycle track in both directions along Hinckley Road will revert to being a bus lane from Monday, May 24, to coincide with the start of the Enderby Park and Ride electric bus using that route.
Both the 1.6-mile inbound route and the 1.1-mile outbound cycle path will be handed back for use as a bus lane, although pop-up measures to create safe cycling space, manage parking and aid social distancing outside local shops will remain in place. The route is currently marked with cones, road markings and temporary barriers.
On London Road in the coming weeks, the existing inbound cycle lane will revert to use by both cyclists and buses. Between the sections of bus lane, the protected cycle tracks will remain in place while designs for a more permanent solution are considered.
Off-carriageway cycle tracks along Saffron Lane will be introduced, and the bus lane will return to use for buses once the pop-up cycle track is removed. It comes as works to improve access for cyclists and pedestrians get underway around the junction of Putney Road and Aylestone Road.
Pop-up footway-widening routes in Belgrave Road, Green Lane Road and Evington Road are also expected to be gradually removed over the coming weeks.
Other schemes which are under review but likely to be retained in some form include the cycle lanes between Belgrave Circle and Abbey Park Road, Aylestone Road, Pocklingtons Walk and Mill Lane Bridge.
Queens Road and the ‘mini Holland’ layout in Braunstone Gate will also be reviewed. These footway widening schemes help to support social distancing by pedestrians and outdoor café seating, looking to strike a balance between providing accessibility to businesses and helping people to be covid-safe.
The pop-up cycle route in Beaumont Leys Lane is also due to remain, as work to bring forward a permanent scheme is developed, along with existing marked out routes in Braunstone Lane and Evington Lane where funding has been secured to improve these important cycle routes.
In the city centre, pop-up cycling and walking facilities plus increased café seating space in Granby Street is due to be incorporated into more permanent plans for the area. Those in Every Street and St Martins, where roads have been closed to allow pavement seating, will also remain.
Leicester deputy city mayor for environment and transport, Cllr Adam Clarke, said: “This programme of pop-up cycle paths and pavement widening came about in spring 2020 to help provide key workers with safer cycling routes and walking connections across the city. They have also helped businesses by providing space for outdoor café seating, supporting their recovery.
“With the city now steadily reopening, we’re taking the decision to reinstate the bus lanes occupied by some of these. Wherever possible, we want to keep safety measures in place, such as ensuring that pre-existing cycle routes are more clearly marked with wands or road markings, and ensuring that social distancing measures which widen the space available can remain in place where needed.
“It means we’ve also had the chance to see how these pop-up routes work, and in some cases we are looking to make them permanent by including them in wider improvement work - but we are constantly reviewing this work to ensure it addresses local needs.
“These key worker corridors have been vital in encouraging people to try walking and cycling, while the widening of pavements has helped people to maintain social distancing as well as helping businesses to trade outside. They still have an essential role to play in our work to address the climate emergency by offering an alternative to car use, as part of a citywide approach to more sustainable travel choices, as detailed in our Covid-19 Transport Recovery Plan.”
As part of an ongoing response to the pandemic, the Covid-19 Transport Discovery Plan has included the Leicester Bike Aid project, which gave away more than 500 bikes to key workers in need of them, and fixed a further 750 to help people get around by bike.
The roll-out of the city’s Santander Cycles Leicester bike share scheme helped around 1,000 key workers during lockdown.
Leicester City Council has a package of nearly £80million, including funding from the Government's Transforming Cities Fund, to spend on a range of major projects. As well as the bike share scheme, these include developing better walking and cycling links and upgrading to electric park and ride buses.
Information on cycling locally can be found here: https://www.choosehowyoumove.co.uk/cycling/
The Covid-19 Transport Recovery Plan is available here: https://www.leicester.gov.uk/media/186689/covid-19-transport-recovery-plan-may-2020.pdf
Information on support for businesses to trade outside can be found here: https://www.leicester.gov.uk/business/licences-and-permits/transport-and-street-licences-and-permits/temporary-street-cafe-licence/