Close streets to cars for social distancing during coronavirus crisis, say Haringey Liberal Democrats
PUBLISHED: 11:38 27 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:53 27 April 2020
Car-free streets should be introduced in Haringey to allow walkers and cyclists to socially distance during the coronavirus lockdown, opposition councillors have said.
Liberal Democrat councillors Nick da Costa (Alexandra) and Luke Cawley-Harrison (Crouch End) have urged Haringey Council to take advantage of a recent change to Government regulations that makes it easier to close off streets to cars.
It comes after similar schemes were announced in response to the coronavirus crisis in Brighton and the Italian city of Milan.
While traffic has significantly reduced following the coronavirus lockdown, more people have taken to running, walking and cycling as daily exercise.
But narrow pavements in some areas can make it difficult to stay two metres apart from others while taking part in these activities.
On Tuesday (April 21), the Department for Transport issued temporary guidance making it easier for councils to introduce car-free streets.
In a letter to cabinet member for environment and sustainability Cllr Kirsten Hearn, the Lib Dem councillors say they believe Haringey residents would “welcome steps to make walking and cycling safer and more pleasant”.
They add: “If Haringey takes advantage of this opportunity, it would be a welcome release for our residents who may not have access to gardens for exercise, but are worried about pavements being too narrow to walk or run, or roads too dangerous to cycle on whilst maintaining social distancing.”
Cllr Kirsten Hearn, Haringey Council cabinet member for climate change and sustainability, said: “I share the concerns regarding the use of street space to ensure social distancing and providing safer and cleaner opportunities for cycling and walking.
“We have been exploring opportunities to increase pedestrian capacity in areas of commercial activity.
“However, any decision has to be balanced against the requirements for essential travel during this period, including for critical workers, emergency vehicles, public transport, deliveries and loading activity.
“We are continuing to work on a framework which will set out the types of permanent interventions the council could make to improve walking and cycling in the borough so that we are not just considering the immediate situation but the longer term too.”
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