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Labour Councillors Call for Reallocation of Road Space

At a meeting of Bedford Borough Councils Climate Change Committee on Monday 11th May 2020, Bedford Labour councillors proposed that the council should investigate all possibilities to re-allocate road space away from motor vehicles and towards pedestrians and cyclists.

Councillor James Valentine, a Labour member on the Climate Change Committee and member of Cycling UK, said: “We need to act now. This should be done wherever possible before the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted. It could ease motor vehicle congestion, reduce pollution, and make walking and cycling safer in the long term.”

Bedford Borough Labour coiuncillors pointed out the following considerations:

  • Physical distancing restrictions may last until at the end of 2020 or longer and walking/cycling are a good way of maintaining this distancing

  • The Police have reported an increase in speeding and we should recognise the devastation that this causes in terms of deaths and injuries

  • People may feel reluctant to use public transport and rush back to using their cars

  • Air pollution has been suggested as a possible contributory factor to Covid-19

  • Obesity has also been suggested as a possible contributory factor to complications from Covid-19 and people will be more likely to choose to walk and cycle if they have more space and better air quality, thus improving their health

  • Cities such as Manchester and Milan are already leading the way and can provide examples of best practice

  • The government has updated its guidance to give Councils more flexibility to make these changes

Councillor Sue Oliver, fellow Labour Climate Change Committee member added, “Now is the time to “seize the moment” and improve the Borough’s urban areas for the benefit of all. We hope the Committee will support this and see where we can put such plans into action.”

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