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County Council needs to seize the opportunity to make our road-space more attractive and safer for all

May 22, 2020 12:12 PM

The pandemic has had terrible impact on the lives and health of thousands of Kent residents and many other appalling consequences. But on a more positive note we have seen a significant reduction in traffic and a marked improvement in air pollution. With the prospect of further easing of the lockdown restrictions, it is vital that KCC takes steps now to keep our roads safe for all road users especially pedestrians and cyclists.

Earlier this month the Department for Transport encouraged all local authorities to implement new measures which would make it easier and safer for pedestrians and cyclists to get about our towns and cities. The new measures seek to maintain the benefits we have enjoyed in the past couple of months and also to enable people to get about safely whilst adhering to social-distancing guidelines.

Social-distancing will also have a massive impact on our public transport systems with buses having to run at just ¼ of their designated capacity or less. There is a very real risk we will see more cars than ever on our roads, with dreadful congestion and appalling pollution.

The Liberal Democrats are determined this should not be allowed to happen. We will insist that Kent County Council takes the necessary measures to enable and to encourage people to get about wherever possible by walking and cycling.

We will promote better use of Kent's road-space. We will press the County Council to come up with innovative and viable schemes which benefit whole communities, such as:

  • Wider footways and pavements,
  • Integrated networks of properly designated cycle lanes and off-road cycle paths,
  • Priority signals for pedestrians and cyclists at traffic lights,
  • Prevention of vehicles rat-running through residential streets,
  • Extending parking restrictions in the vicinity of school gates,
  • Promotion of cycle to work and cycle to school & college schemes with charging facilities for electric bikes,
  • Introduction of 20mph zones throughout town centres and residential areas,
  • Enabling extended use of pavements and roadways by restaurants and cafes.

Ian ChittendenIan Chittenden, the Liberal Democrat Highways spokesperson at County Hall commented, "The Government has made it clear that this is a 'a once in a generation opportunity to deliver a lasting transformative change in how we make short journeys in our towns and cities.'

"There is no time to lose. As the Government briefing stated, 'Measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks, given the urgent need to change travel habits before the restart takes full effect.'

"Kent's Conservative Administration cannot sit on its hands and let this opportunity slip. Other councils are taking decisive action now. So should Kent County Council."