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Web portal to launch for public to suggest new Covid-19 highways measures

Bradford Council is launching a new web portal, due to go live next week, to give the public and local organisations the chance to suggest new highways measures to help the district’s efforts to get moving while tackling Covid-19.

Individuals and groups will be able to visit the Council’s consultation and engagement web pages at https://www.bradford.gov.uk/consultations/current-consultations/consultation-and-engagement/ to log details of new practical, easily implementable measures they believe will encourage cycling and walking to help the Bradford area cope with reduced capacity on public transport during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Suggested new proposals will be considered alongside a number of ideas which have already been received from local groups as well as those identified by Bradford Council itself. The final measures will be designed to help the public and local communities get around the city while complying with social distancing guidelines that could remain in place for some time to come.

The new web pages will go live as the first schemes announced for consideration by the Council in early May are being implemented.

The first test of the type of social distancing measures being considered for across Bradford District are to be implemented in Shipley’s market square ready for this weekend, while plans for Hall Ings to widen pavements and allow social distancing by taking the road down to one lane of traffic in each direction, are close to being approved and could be installed as early as next week.

Moves to install frequent automatic crossing periods – without the need to touch the request button to make traffic stop – at up to one hundred pedestrian crossings across the district, are also being implemented, complete with signage to advise of the changes.

Having the right measures in place to help people maintain social distancing is crucial to protect the public’s health and reduce the spread of the virus, helping to save lives while allowing essential travel. This will help people to stay safe as we support the economy to get back on track sustaining jobs and livelihoods as the government restrictions on travel and work are gradually eased.

Following on from Bradford Council’s early announcement of proposed schemes to tackle Covid-19, the Council will look to access the district’s share of up to £250 million of government funding being made available nationwide for local authorities to implement emergency measures to encourage walking and cycling to reduce the pressure on public transport.

All proposals for Bradford district, including those that are suggested via the new web portal, will be considered for funding based on four key themes:

  • A Town and District Centre High Street package – to implement measures to allow social distancing such as removing street clutter, increasing space for pedestrians, and managing likely queuing points, that could allow shops and services to re-open safely;
  • Active & Sustainable travel package – to create new cycle lanes, widen pavements, and refocus reduced road space for taxis and public transport priority to make it safer and easier for everyone to use our high streets;
  • A Reduced Speed Limit programme – designed to reduce speeds in towns and district centres to make it safer or more comfortable for pedestrians and cyclists;
  • A Parks and Open Spaces programme – to enable the city’s green spaces to remain open for public use while facilitating social distancing.

Coun Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “These are clearly unprecedented and difficult times for everyone. The people of Bradford and the surrounding towns have made a fantastic contribution to the nationwide effort to tackle Covid-19 and help the NHS.

“When the restrictions are relaxed further, we need to be ready. We need to think differently and take appropriate measures to allow people to get about safely and allow our thriving district centres to come alive again. That’s why these measures are so important.

“At Bradford Council, we have shown our determination to tackle this challenge head on. We were ahead of central government in announcing plans to assess potential new measures, and we committed to allocate an element of local funding. The national funding subsequently announced means that we may now be able to do more on any one measure, or look at further measures, and so we’re keen to hear people’s suggestions.

“The timescales are moving fast. The final programme will probably feature some new proposals alongside others we’re already working on that align with facilitating walking and cycling. Despite the new funding, there will be a limit in terms of the scale of what can be achieved, so we need practical local interventions that can make a significant impact.

“We’re getting on with implementing the first schemes. We also want to hear suggestions from people living in our communities, with the new web pages going live next week. While we won’t be able to respond to each idea due to the pressing timescales, any we do receive will be considered carefully.”

The precise level of funding available for Bradford Council has yet to be confirmed. An allocation will be made by central government to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, who will then pass on a share of the pot to the Council. In the meantime, the Council will assess potential schemes to establish a priority list of measures that are deliverable within whatever budget and timescales are available. Announcements on immediate schemes to be brought forward will be made over the coming weeks.

Further larger scale proposals to encourage cycling and walking over the medium term will be included within the city’s plans being developed under the separate Transforming Cities Fund. Details of the programme will be consulted on later this year.

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