Road haulage industry bodies have criticised Department for Transport plans to widen pavements and introduce pop-up cycle routes as lockdown is lifted.
The ‘Local Transport Restart’ proposals would allow councils and the Highway Authority to reallocate road space to help people shift to cycling and walking while remaining socially distanced. The plans are backed by an emergency active travel fund of £250 million.
Yet the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said the proposals would delay deliveries and increase congestion, hampering the efforts of businesses to restart after the pandemic. It called the allocation of road space to cyclists “astoundingly wasteful”, claiming that they were being “disproportionately favoured” over other road users.
And the Freight Transport Association said that while it supported the premise of the government’s active travel plan, it wanted reassurance that the freight and logistics industry would be able to continue its essential work.
Local Transport Restart
The plans are the first stage in a longer-term package of measures aimed at improving buses, cycling and walking that was announced in February, before the Covid-19 outbreak.
While the guidance does recognise the need for freight transport, the RHA is concerned that plans to close certain roads, narrow others, and introduce cycle lanes could have a negative impact on its members’ operations.
Rod McKenzie, the RHA’s Managing Director – Policy and Public Affairs, said: “The ability to move goods safely and efficiently is critical for everyone and all businesses. We are concerned that public policy makers are adopting a ‘silo’ mentality, with the effect that passenger and freight transport needs are being treated separately.”
He added: “Adapting infrastructure to enhance walking, safe waiting for public transport and cycling where it needs to be done is not unreasonable. However, it must be done in a proportionate and structured way.”
How would wider pavements and new cycle routes impact your road haulage business? Do you think they’re justified in response to the Covid-19 pandemic?