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Decision details

Approval for creating safe spaces for waiting, walking and cycling

Decision Maker: Parvis Khansari (Director - Highways and Waste)

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Decision:

To approve the proposed objectives, criteria and process for identifying, assessing, designing and reviewing Covid-19 related highway network management measures as set out in this report. These objectives, criteria and processes will be kept under review as necessary to ensure that the process remains fit for purpose.

Reasons for the decision:

This decision would in other circumstances be taken by the Cabinet. However, in circumstances where the Cabinet is unable to meet to expedite its functions in a timely manner during the COVID-19 pandemic, this decision is being taken in accordance with the power referred to under 'background'. This decision will be reported to the next meeting of the Cabinet.
Government guidance
Following the announcement of the Covid-19 lockdown by Government in late March, many more people have been walking and cycling for exercise purposes or to access essential services. Because of the reduction in traffic, people have largely been able to do this in a safe manner.
However, as the Covid-19 lockdown is eased, increased levels of traffic will make it more difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to safely achieve the 2m social distancing requirement and to travel and exercise safely. The importance of this is heightened by the Government advice for people to avoid using public transport where possible and to instead walk, cycle, or drive. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of everyone to adopt the Government’s principles as set-out in its ‘Staying safe outside your home’ guidance wherever possible (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home#face-coverings ) .
In response to the above situation, the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, announced a £2 billion package to put walking and cycling at the heart of the Government’s transport policy (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/2-billion-package-to-create-new-era-for-cycling-and-walking). As part of this, £250 million is to be allocated to an emergency active travel fund to deliver swift interventions to make cycling and walking safer.
In association with the above funding announcement, the Department for Transport (DfT) issued new statutory guidance on 9 May 2020; ‘Traffic Management Act 2004: network management in response to COVID-19’ (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities/traffic-management-act-2004-network-management-in-response-to-covid-19) . Included in the foreword by the Secretary of State for Transport is the following;
The government therefore expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. Such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel. I’m pleased to see that many authorities have already begun to do this, and I urge you all to consider how you can begin to make use of the tools in this guidance, to make sure you do what is necessary to ensure transport networks support recovery from the COVID-19 emergency and provide a lasting legacy of greener, safer transport.
The guidance states that local authorities where public transport use is low should be considering all possible measures (such as those below) and that these measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks, given the urgent need to change travel habits before the restart takes full effect. Possible measures include:
•Installing ‘pop-up’ cycle facilities with a minimum level of physical separation from volume traffic; for example, mandatory cycle lanes, using light segregation features such as flexible plastic wands; or quickly converting traffic lanes into temporary cycle lanes (suspending parking bays where necessary); widening existing cycle lanes to enable cyclists to maintain distancing. Facilities should be segregated as far as possible, i.e. with physical measures separating cyclists and other traffic. Lanes indicated by road markings only are very unlikely to be sufficient to deliver the level of change needed, especially in the longer term.
•Using cones and barriers: to widen footways along lengths of road, particularly outside shops and transport hubs; to provide more space at bus stops to allow people to queue and socially distance; to widen pedestrian refuges and crossings (both formal and informal) to enable people to cross roads safely and at a distance.
•Encouraging walking and cycling to school, for example through the introduction of more ‘school streets’. Pioneered in London, these are areas around schools where motor traffic is restricted at pick-up and drop-off times, during term-time. They can be effective in encouraging more walking and cycling, particularly where good facilities exist on routes to the school and where the parents, children and school are involved as part of the scheme development.
•Reducing speed limits: 20mph speed limits are being more widely adopted as an appropriate speed limit for residential roads, and many through streets in built-up areas. 20mph limits alone will not be sufficient to meet the needs of active travel, but in association with other measures, reducing the speed limit can provide a more attractive and safer environment for walking and cycling.
•Introducing pedestrian and cycle zones: restricting access for motor vehicles at certain times (or at all times) to specific streets, or networks of streets, particularly town centres and high streets. This will enable active travel but also social distancing in places where people are likely to gather.
•Modal filters (also known as filtered permeability); closing roads to motor traffic, for example by using planters or large barriers. Often used in residential areas, this can create neighbourhoods that are low-traffic or traffic free, creating a more pleasant environment that encourages people to walk and cycle, and improving safety.
•Providing additional cycle parking facilities at key locations, such as outside stations and in high streets, to accommodate an increase in cycling, for example by repurposing parking bays to accommodate cycle racks.
•Changes to junction design to accommodate more cyclists – for example, extending Advanced Stop Lines at traffic lights to the maximum permitted depth of 7.5 metres where possible.
•‘Whole-route’ approaches to create corridors for buses, cycles and access only on key routes into town and city centres.
•Identifying and bringing forward permanent schemes already planned, for example under Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans, and that can be constructed relatively quickly.
The DfT further advises that:
•authorities should monitor and evaluate any temporary measures installed, with a view to making them permanent, and embedding a long-term shift to active travel as the country moves from restart to recovery;
•work to reallocate road space for active travel will need to be balanced with access still required for other activities in the road, particularly street works, maintenance and other highway works;
•authorities will also need to consider access for Blue Badge holders, deliveries and other essential services as appropriate;
•authorities should consult with the local chiefs of police and emergency services to ensure access is maintained where needed. They should also work with local businesses to ensure changes reflect their needs, particularly around access to premises; and
•the public sector equality duty still applies, and in making any changes to road networks, authorities must consider the needs of disabled people and those with other protected characteristics.
More recently, on the 13 May 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) issued the following guidance: ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer public places – urban centres and green spaces’ (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-public-places-urban-centres-and-green-spaces?utm_source=de4b771e-c9e9-4f83-b911-2dd5c49e7603
landowners; commercial landlords responsible for public places; and management companies.
The document provides a framework for identifying the issues associated with the use of public places in light of the need for social distancing focussing primarily on areas which are likely to have high footfall. It also includes practical interventions, which are temporary, for adapting and managing public places. It does not impose any legal obligations and there is an expectation by MHCLG that the guidance will be updated over time.
A decision tree sets out a process to identify issues and interventions for maintaining social distancing in urban centres and green spaces (see Appendix 1). Further advice in the document includes the following in relation to the management of urban centres:
•Social distancing in urban centres
•Social distancing in high streets and town centres
•Social distancing in enclosed or semi-enclosed retail areas
•Social distancing in public places around commercial buildings
•Social distancing in areas surrounding transport hubs
Other relevant guidance issued by the Government includes the following:
•Traffic orders: advertising during coronavirus (COVID-19) (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/traffic-orders-advertising-during-coranavirus-covid-19) .
•Temporary new sign designs (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/884008/covid-19-temporary-signs-for-pedestrians-drivers-and-cyclists.pdf).
Proposed Objectives
The first step in developing an appropriate process is to determine its objectives. Based on the Government’s guidance, these are proposed to be:
Providing safe spaces for waiting and queuing (for example, at bus stops and outside shops and schools).
•Providing safe spaces for social distancing on the public highway when walking or cycling.
•Reducing the risk to pedestrians or cyclists who use the highway network to make essential journeys or to exercise.
•Measures need to be able to be implemented quickly and provide an immediate benefit.
Possible Measures
The recent guidance published by the DfT and MHCLG provide examples of possible measures.
However, due to the necessity to deliver changes quickly and in view of their temporary nature, measures are expected to have practical limitations which could include:
•It may not be feasible to provide footways or cycleways to the desired width.
•Routes or facilities may not be continuous or consistent.
•Widened footway provision may have steps and level changes because of kerbs.
•Improved temporary facilities will endeavour to incorporate measures for the less abled but in the short term this may not be possible.
17.Additional space will be required to enable people to safely wait / queue, socially distance, exercise or make essential journeys by walking and cycling. This space will have to come from the carriageway or footway which may have implications for other uses and users. For example:
•Reduced number of parking spaces
•Relocated loading or waiting areas
•Road widths reduced to the minimum for the type and volume of traffic
•Closing roads or implementing one-way traffic systems
•Opportunities to cross the road limited by temporary barriers.
Possible impacts on other highway uses / users needs will be taken into account. However, it will need to be accepted that the creation of additional facilities for walking and cycling will take priority in the short to medium term.
Initially, the majority of implemented measures will be temporary in nature but will be subject to review and could be installed on a permanent basis in due course if appropriate (when they would be subject to the usual formal procedures).
Proposed Criteria
The council cannot realistically enable ideal conditions for waiting / queuing, social distancing, exercise or essential journeys by walking and cycling on every part of the public highway in Wiltshire. Therefore, the second step in establishing a suitable process is to develop criteria (or similar) to identify the most important locations where action needs to be considered whilst also ensuring other current and/or forecast critical functions of the highway network are maintained.
It is proposed to have three separate criteria: 1) waiting / queuing issues; 2) walking issues; and 3) cycling issues.
Waiting / Queuing Criteria
Using the Government’s recently issued guidance on creating safer public spaces in urban centres, the council will work with relevant stakeholders (including town/city centre managers, landowners, commercial landlords and management companies) on a shared responsibility basis to identify issues concerning waiting / queuing (e.g. outside shops and hairdressers), focusing primarily on areas which are likely to have high footfall.
In terms of providing more space at bus stops, the council will work with relevant parties (including bus operators and city, town and parish councils) to identify locations, focusing primarily on stops subject to high use and high footfall, and pro-actively implement any necessary measures.
With regard to providing more space outside schools at pick-up and drop-off times during term time, the council will shortly issue general advice (building on the Government’s advice)(https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings) and then work as required with individual schools to identify local issues and solutions.
Walking Criteria
Stage 1 of the proposed criteria for walking (see Appendix 2) seeks to quickly and easily assess and sift the need for any measure by considering key safety factors and the existing provision for pedestrians at the relevant location.
Sifted locations / measures would then be taken forward to Stage 2 which is comprised of the following factors:
•Accessibility / Connectivity
•Economy
•Environment
Stage 3 then assesses the potential impact and risk of measures sifted through Stage 2 in relation to the following factors:
•Public transport impacts
•Emergency services impacts
•Impact on people with mobility difficulties or visual impairments
•Cycling impacts
•Traffic impacts
•Parking impacts
•Business servicing impacts
•Impacts on taxis
•Value for money
•Project delivery
•Legal implications
Overall, the assessment process will enable the council to prioritise walking measures that are likely to have the greatest benefit to public health, the lowest impact on other highway uses / users and that can be delivered in a short timeframe.
Cycling Criteria
The proposed assessment process for cycling is very similar to the walking assessment above.
Stage 1 of the proposed criteria for cycling (see Appendix 3) seeks to quickly and easily assess and sift the need for any measure by considering key safety factors and the existing provision for cyclists at the relevant location.
Sifted locations / measures will then be taken forward to Stage 2 which is comprised of the following factors:
•Accessibility / Connectivity
•Economy
•Environment
Stage 3 then assesses the potential impact and risk of any measure sifted through Stage 2 in relation to the following factors:
•Public transport impacts
•Emergency services impacts
•Impact on people with mobility difficulties or visual impairments
•Pedestrian impacts
•Traffic impacts
•Parking impacts
•Business servicing impacts
•Value for money
•Project delivery
•Legal implications
Overall, the criteria assessment process will enable the council to prioritise cycling measures that are likely to have the greatest benefit to public health, the lowest impact on other highway uses / users and that can be delivered in a short timeframe.
Process for identifying measures
Officers in local highways, traffic engineering, network management and sustainable transport have been identified for each community area and have initially been asked to identify potential locations / measures using their local and technical knowledge.
Given the Government’s timescale requirements and the growing on-the-ground need, it is not proposed to carry out an extensive consultation process either with stakeholders or the public. Rather, officers will liaise with local members (through Area Boards) and city, town and parish councils to further identity potential locations / measures using their local knowledge.
In addition, suggestions from members of the public, stakeholders, partners and other bodies will be considered.
Ultimately, it is proposed that all potential locations / measures will be assessed against the agreed criteria by a panel of officers to help identify a priority list for design and implementation. It should be noted that given the dynamic nature of the current situation, the process will be kept under review to ensure it remains fit for purpose.
Design and implementation
The design of prioritised measures will be developed assuming a ‘walk, talk and build’ process. This may result in modifications or an alternative approach. Minimal plans will be prepared, although they will be in sufficient detail to specify signing and barrier requirements. Where applicable, measures will also be subject to a Road Safety Audit and accessibility audit prior to implementation.
Most proposals are not likely to require Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TTRO), but where they are required these will be subject to consultation and Cabinet Member approval in accordance with the latest DfT guidance.
The local Wiltshire Council members and the relevant city, town or parish councils will be informed of the intention to install the measure.
Measures will be monitored and evaluated on completion.
Implementation will be managed by a nominated engineer in the council’s traffic engineering team and will be installed by Ringway under the term maintenance contract. The safety of temporary signing and barriers will be monitored by the local highways technicians and streetworks inspectors.
Review of measures
The need for a measure to remain in place will be reviewed after six months or as circumstances require. Where permanent measures are considered necessary these will subject to the necessary consultations and/or legal procedures as required.
Equalities impact of the proposal
As per the DfT’s guidance, a proportionate equalities impact assessment process will consider access issues for Blue Badge holders, the needs of disabled people and those with other protected characteristics.
Risk assessment
The relevant risks if the proposed decision and related work is not taken are considered to be as follows:
(i)Non-compliance with statutory Government guidance.
(ii)Measures are implemented at sub-optimal or unnecessary locations.
(iii)Inability to provide justification for decisions on suggested locations / measures.
(iv)More extensive consultation and other associated processes slow down the implementation of measures.
(v)Increased transmission of Covid-19 with resultant adverse public health and economic impacts.
(vi)Increased vehicle / cyclist / pedestrian conflict.
Risks that may arise if the proposed decision is taken and actions that will be taken to manage these risks:
Risk1
Complaints from residents, businesses, communities and others that locations / measures have not been prioritised / progressed.
.
Action to mitigate the risk
The proposed process in this report sets out the assessment methodology.
Risk2
Complaints from other highway uses / users regarding adverse impacts as a result of implemented measures.
Action to mitigate risk
The potential impacts on other highway uses / users is considered in the proposed process in this report. Ultimately, the creation of additional facilities for walking and cycling needs to take priority in the short to medium term.
Risk3
Increased road traffic collisions and congestion, and poorer air quality due to narrower carriageways.
Action to mitigate risk
These matters will be considered in both the assessment stage and design stage.
Risk4
Parking redistributed to other locations leading to potential safety and congestion issues.
Action to mitigate risk
These matters will be considered in both the assessment stage and design stage.
Risk5
Traffic re-routes to other routes, which may be residential, increasing accidents, congestion, and lowering air quality on those routes.
Action to mitigate risk
These matters will be considered in both the assessment stage and design stage.
Financial implications
Secretary of State for Transport announced on 9 May 2020 a £250m funding for delivery of this statutory guidance. At the time of writing this report, the allocation of this funding to individual authorities has not been announced. The delivery of these low cost solutions will be kept within the allocated budget using the proposed sifting process to consider which of the possible measures should be adopted in line with statutory guidance; and staff time will be capitalised wherever possible.
Legal implications
The DfT’s guidance provides advice on the implementation of measures stating that all can be introduced temporarily and that some will not require Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs). Others, however, will require TROs, of which there are different types, the main ones being:
•Permanent: this process includes prior consultation on the proposed scheme design, a 21-day notice period for statutory consultees and others who can log objections; there can be a public inquiry in some circumstances.
•Experimental: these are used to trial schemes that may then be made permanent. Authorities may put in place monitoring arrangements, and carry out ongoing consultation once the measure is built. Although the initial implementation period can be quick, the need for extra monitoring and consultation afterwards makes them a more onerous process overall.
•Temporary: these can be in place for up to 18 months. There is a 7-day notice period prior to making the TRO and a 14-day notification requirement after it is made, plus publicity requirements. These are most suitable for putting in place temporary measures and road closures.
Does not require a TRO
•Variation of widths of carriageway and footways – Where a highway comprises both a footway or footways and carriageway the highway authority may vary the relative widths of the carriageway and footway. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/66/section/75
•Installing footways, guardrails and barriers etc to create temporary footway space http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/66/section/66
•New Mandatory Cycle Lane (temporary or experimental) – marked with solid white lines, whose meaning is to prohibit other types of vehicles from being ridden or driven in them during hours of operation. Strictly speaking it is no longer an offence to park in these new MCLs (to prevent parking this will require an Order – see below)
•Closing a road under an Emergency Closure, this can be implemented using on-site notices with immediate effect but can only be in place for 21 days, this can be extended for a further 21 days giving a maximum of 42 days, if extending beyond this timeframe an Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (see below) will need to be made during the time of the emergency closure.
Requires a TRO
•Closing roads to motor traffic will require a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) in various situations, including where the authority is satisfied that traffic should be restricted of prohibited “because of the likelihood of danger to the public”, these TROs normally require 7 days’ notice plus a further 14 days after making the Order before the works can be done, given advertising lead in times and preparing the paperwork this process can take a minimum of 6 weeks from start to implementation. The Order can be in place for a maximum of 18 months http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/27/section/14
•If parking spaces are lost due to installation of temporary infrastructure, a TTRO will be required to suspend said parking.
•Introducing temporary waiting restrictions (double yellow lines) e.g. to support Mandatory Cycle Lanes a TTRO will be required.
•Permanent TROs – restrictions on movement of traffic or parking and waiting restrictions to be introduce permanently. Lengthily process involving advertising and consultation, the process can take at minimum 6 months to implement.
•Experimental Traffic Orders – can be made for the same reason as permanent TROs but no prior consultation is needed. Experimental Orders are intended for measures which the council considers might be made permanent, without the need for a full TRO, with a 6 month consultation being conducted while the experimental scheme is in place after which consideration is given to implementing permanently.
•Converting a footpath to a shared use path (to allow for cyclists) would require a Cycle Track Order to be implemented, again requiring advertising and consultation.
I confirm that in making this decision I have considered the following in line with Wiltshire Council’s Constitution:
Key decision requirements: Yes
Views of relevant cabinet member(s), committee chairman, area board(s): Yes
Consideration of the area boards and delegated decision checklist for officers on the issue of when and how to involve local councillors and area boards in decisions about local services: Yes
Implication of any council policy, initiative, strategy or procedure: Yes
Consultation in accordance with requirements and expectations of consultation with the public: Yes
Range of options available: Yes
Staffing, financial and legal implications:Yes
Risk assessment: Yes
Involvement of statutory officers and/or directors: Yes
Regional or national guidance from other bodies:Yes
The council’s constitution: Yes
This contract is suitable for execution under the e-signature process: Not applicable

Alternative options considered:

As set out in this report

Conflict of Interest: Not applicable

Background: Pursuant to paragraph 4 of Part 3 Section D, the Directors of Wiltshire Council are is empowered to take all necessary decisions in cases of emergency. This decision is being taken by Parvis Khansari using these powers in circumstances where the Director concerned believes that there is a risk of damage to property, a threat to the health or wellbeing of an individual and/or that the interests of the Council may be compromised if this decision is not otherwise taken.

Contact: Parvis Khansari, Director - Highways and Environment Email: parvis.khansari@wiltshire.gov.uk Tel: 01225 713340.

Publication date: 28/07/2020

Date of decision: 29/05/2020

Accompanying Documents:

 

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