Call for urgent action to maintain social distancing for cyclists and pedestrians

On Saturday the government told councils that in response to the COVID-19 crisis they must act urgently to reallocate road space to people walking and cycling.

It has taken the coronavirus and a massive drop in traffic on the roads to see quite how much of our public space is normally given over to cars.

Pop-up cycle lane in Leeds (pic: @LeedsCC_News)

There’s a stark contrast between the empty expanse of tarmac on our roads and the people on our pavements who don’t have enough space to pass without breaking social distancing.

Narrow pavement on North Street, Horsham

Everyone will benefit from better provision for walking and cycling. The Horsham Liberal Democrats and the local Green Party are calling on Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council to take urgent action.

Without this urgent action we will see a rush back to the car. Time is short: traffic levels are already rising again, and as the number of cars increases, key workers and families who have been cycling during the lockdown will be squeezed off the roads. Those who previously used public transport will either be forced into cars or find themselves stranded.

Key worker corridor in Leicester (pic: Cllr Adam Clarke, Deputy Mayor)

We face a crisis of congestion and air pollution. The improved air quality during the lockdown is estimated to have already saved well over a thousand lives, and indications are that there is a significant link between COVID-19 recovery and fitness.

Some journeys – especially longer ones – will still need a car but imagine how much easier those would be if the 40% of all trips that are under 2 miles weren’t also being done mostly in cars?

Many councils across the country have already taken rapid action, and the resulting key worker corridors and health routes have been incredibly well-received by residents.

Pavement widening in Brixton (pic: @LambethCyclists)

Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council are being called on to:

  • Complete the Missing Link in the Horsham-Crawley cycle route now. This will give a safe alternative to the bus for those who work in Manor Royal.
  • Cone off one lane of Albion Way to give people space to cycle and walk to Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and the town centre shops.
  • Remove on-street parking to give more space outside busy shops, for example at the Roffey parade and on Springfield Road.
  • Widen narrow and busy pavements, for example on the North Street railway bridge.
  • Divert motor traffic to make busy, direct walking and cycling routes like Kings Road walking and cycling only.
  • Use bollards or planters to stop cars rat-running through dense residential areas such as New Street, opening them up to walking and cycling.
  • Implement 20mph speed limits on key cycling routes and residential streets, for example in Steyning, matching the existing village wide 20mph limits in Bramber and Upper Beeding.
  • Get ready for the end of the lockdown by introducing “school streets” which give more safe space for children on foot and bikes by removing cars near school entrances at the start and finish of the day.

The cycle forum wholeheartedly endorses this initiative and invites other political parties to join us in supporting these emergency measures.

New planters make a quieter residential street in Lewisham (pic: @SophieMcGeevor)

You can help by letting us know the places in Horsham and across the District where you’d like to see a wider pavement, a pop-up cycle lane, slower traffic or non-essential traffic restricted to make space for social distancing.

Please comment below or email us on


  1. Hilary Jubert says

    Absolutely support any walking and cycling improvements to keep vehicular traffic permanently down. Empty roads have been a joy over the last few weeks and have encouraged huge numbers of people to exercise outdoors. Of note, and reported to WSCC Highways, is the pavement along the A29 Five Oaks to Billingshurst. On Wednesday this week, I saw a family of four including 2 young children, all on bikes with a dog on a lead, trying to negotiate this roadside path overhung by hedges and weeds underfoot. Barely 0.5m wide in places. SO DANGEROUS and does not encourage anyone to use it. Urgent action required.

  2. jonathan heatley says

    north heath lane needs a cycle path into town so cycles can move freely in during the morning rush hour. Its not wide enough for a cycle lane on the way out of town as well but the one lane would be a big help.

  3. Mrs L a McGilligan says

    Permanent cycle lanes and bikes and pedestrians have tight if way. Pop ups are only short term solutions. More SECURE bike parking.

  4. What a wonderful post , but after this is history will we really have proper European standard provisions for cycling ? As we’ve rejected the EU aren’t we on our own .

  5. Hi, thanks for the work you are doing. Three areas come to mind, under the railway bridge where East St meets Queen St in Horsham has a really narrow pavement for anyone trying to reach town. The other two are Rushams Road and Merryfield Drive off Guildford Rd in Horsham. Both are popular routes for Tanbridge House kids. Merryfield has about 20 feet of cycle path which then ends into the road, and Rushams is a popular cut through with often inappropriate high speeds and no cycle provision other than the road. Many thanks

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