What is our Streetspace Programme?
Hounslow’s Streetspace Programme was developed in response to the challenges and opportunities created by the Covid-19 pandemic, and follows statutory government guidance and the Mayor of London’s Streetspace plan. Together, they aim to:
- Enable social distancing for those using shops and services, and those travelling around the borough on foot or by bike
- Create safer and more attractive spaces for walking and cycling (known as ‘active travel’ modes)
- Reduce congestion and air pollution from vehicular traffic given decline in public transport use
- Reduce through traffic on residential roads, to prevent ‘rat-running’.
Immediate emergency response measures that could be implemented quickly to accommodate requirements for social distancing and deliver improvements for walking and cycling.
Further borough-wide measures to improve the safety of the network for those walking and cycling and create space for business to safely reopen in our town centres. This phase was largely informed by feedback received from residents, local business owners, and other key stakeholders such as our schools.
A strategic review of the network using the latest data to identify other locations where Streetspace measures could be implemented in future, and determination of whether any of the trial measures introduced in phases 1 and 2 should be made permanent.
What measures are being considered and implemented?
Details of the specific measures implemented within Hounslow, and being proposed within the borough, can be found on the following page here.
More broadly speaking, the Government guidance issued in May last year includes a list of measures that can be used when responding to the pandemic, which sit alongside our ongoing commitments to a green recovery.
- Installation of cycle facilities with minimum separation from volume traffic (e.g. new cycle lanes; widening existing lanes)
- Footway widening along lengths of road, particularly outside shops and transport hubs
- Increased space at bus stops and crossing points
- Introduction of ‘School Streets’
- Reduction of speed limits on residential roads and through roads in built-up areas. NB: most of Hounslow is already subject to 20mph restrictions
- Introduction of 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: closing roads to motor traffic using planters or large barriers. NB: In effect this is taken to mean the restriction of through traffic to major (generally classified as those with A or B number) roads where possible
- Introducing additional cycle facilities, e.g. increased cycle parking
- Junction design changes to accommodate more cyclists
- Creation of corridors for buses, cyclists and access only on key routes into town and city centres, using ‘whole-route’ approach
- Identification of permanent schemes that can be brought forward, for example under Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans, and that can be constructed quickly.
Further detail on the above can be found in the government guidance.
Why is the Streetspace programme necessary?
The Government guidance issued in May last year made it necessary for Hounslow, alongside other local authorities, to rethink how we allocate space on our streets and roads to ensure that sufficient room is available for people to continue moving around and accessing services on foot and by bike, whilst also observing social distancing.
With social distancing requirements still in place, including on public transport, there is a significant risk that congestion levels across the borough would rise if trips previously made by buses or trains were instead made by car. Another key reason is that ‘active travel’ such as walking and cycling provide significant health and well-being benefits. An increase in trips made by car would also worsen the quality of our air and increase road casualties.
How has Covid-19 affected travel patterns?
The Covid-19 pandemic has radically altered how we use our transport network. Local trips, often made on foot or by bike, have noticeably increased. Public transport use has fallen dramatically due to concerns about virus transmission and increased take-up of remote working. Trips to and from the airport, which have a big impact on the borough, are also far lower than they were in 2019, in line with a drop in aviation activity.
These changes in how we have moved about over the last few months have had some positive impacts:
- Some pollutants are down 20-30 per cent against the 2019 average (transport related carbon emissions)
- Walking and cycling are good forms of exercise and contribute to improved health and mental wellbeing
- Road safety has improved with fewer cars on the road (although speeding remains an issue of concern in places).
Wider council policy
Increasing active travel levels and reducing transport related emissions are key objectives of the council’s Transport Strategy, and Air Quality and Climate Emergency action plans, so it is key that we try to lock-in some of the positive changes experienced in the last few months wherever possible.
The council is also progressing a range of promotions (cycle training, bike loan schemes and maintenance sessions) to support those who are looking to start cycling again.
Visit our Cycling in Hounslow page for more information.