Southampton City Council have announced their plans to get the city moving again amid the coronavirus outbreak in a ‘safe and active’ fashion.
A £4.1m Green Transport Recovery Plan is to be delivered by the council’s Highways Partners, Balfour Beatty Living Places. It has been established in line with the Government’s recommendations for encouraging safe and active travel as we come out of lockdown.
The plan outlines a series of interventions to address key challenges identified by the council. It will enable people to continue adhering to social distancing guidelines as people start to travel more and it will support people who keep walking and cycling following a staggering rise in more active forms of travel across the city.
Travel patterns in Southampton have changed dramatically during the coronavirus outbreak. In this time, there has been a 58% reduction in road traffic levels. Average cycle numbers have risen by 63%. These trends have resulted in lower pollution levels and quieter, safer streets and neighbourhoods in the city. As with many cities across the country, an improvement in air quality has been seen with a notable reduction in Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).
Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City and Place, said:
Despite the difficulties faced, the lockdown measures have translated into some key positives for the city, with increased rates in active travel resulting in lower levels of road traffic and pollution. We now have a golden opportunity to harness this and ensure that our recovery as a city is successful, sustainable and innovative. Our Green Transport Recovery Plan means we are well-equipped to rise to this challenge and emerge more resilient, with a transport system that is fit to meet our city’s changing demands now and in the future. Importantly, it also interlinks with our Green City Plan that clearly defines how we will tackle climate change. Reducing road transport levels is one of the main actions in our commitment to delivering clean air. We want to see the reduction in emission levels continue; the recent data is going to help us learn more about the improvements in our local air quality and to shape future plans. We have already introduced actions that will improve the quality of life in our city, working with residents, key stakeholders, businesses and community groups across Southampton to reduce the impact we all have on our environment. Addressing road transport emissions by reducing the numbers of vehicles on our roads, promoting active travel and encouraging the switch to electric vehicles will all be key to creating a carbon neutral city.