The impact of Covid-19 road-space reallocation measures: Insights from the north of England

Parkes, Stephen, Weston, Richard orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2411-6019 and Gore, Tony (2024) The impact of Covid-19 road-space reallocation measures: Insights from the north of England. Active Travel Studies .

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In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, governments around the world initiated a programme of temporary road-space reallocation measures. These temporary measures helped to create more space for social distancing and encouraged an uptake in active travel (including walking and cycling). This paper examines the impact of the pandemic on travel behaviour in two contrasting local authorities in the North of England, and specifically, examines the deployment and impact of the temporary road-space measures introduced. This research shows that, overall, there was a substantial degree of change in usual travel behaviours amongst the sample in both locations; and this included modest shifts towards active modes (which were more pronounced in Sheffield). Notably, awareness of the temporary measures was high in both Lancashire and Sheffield (77.7% across the whole sample). Yet, actual use of the measures was relatively low (33.0%), although those using them held largely favourable views of their experiences. Increases in cycling were seen across both those who were aware of the measures and those who were not, but notably, the highest increases in cycling (for commuting, shopping, and leisure trips) were across those who were aware and then went on to use the temporary measures. For those not cycling pre-pandemic, there appears to be a positive relationship between beginning to cycle and use of the measures. In contrast, the temporary measures appeared to have little impact on levels of walking.

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