I’M WRITING in response to two letters published on Tuesday 16 June, which criticised the measures Southampton City Council has put in place to make more space for walking and cycling in the city during the Covid-19 pandemic.

One letter criticised the temporary cycle lane on Bassett Avenue and the other the proposed parking restrictions by the Common.

The UK Government has made clear that it expects local authorities to put measures such as these in place to help people to move around, get to work, and to exercise while social distancing requirements mean that public transport use is restricted.

In fact the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, has described this time as a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ to change the way people travel.

Southampton City Council should be commended for moving quickly to put these measures in place, and for the comprehensive Green Recovery Transport Plan it has published.

Not only will the plan help support Southampton’s economic recovery from the current crisis, but will also contribute to tackling the climate emergency and cleaning the air we breathe in the city.

Before the Covid-19 crisis 71% of residents in the Southampton city region supported more physically separated cycle tracks, even where this means less room for other road traffic.

The temporary measures that are in place at the moment are a great opportunity to trial options for more permanent changes like this, giving residents the chance to experience an alternative to our previously car-dominated streets.

If people want to offer feedback on the temporary measures, they can visit www.sustrans.org.uk/space-to-move and take part in our short survey about the specific measures impacting them.

We’ll be sharing the information we gather with the City Council, and will be looking for trends across the UK, to better understand the impact these measures are having.

Megan Streb

Partnerships Manager at Sustrans