TOWN CENTRE WORKS
We felt it would be useful to provide a highway specific update on the measures we have been working on for our town centres.
Highway teams have been working closely with colleagues in Public Health to consider how we needed to adapt our roads and footways in key urban areas to support social distancing and enable our towns and their services to safely reopen, in advance of the lock down measures starting to be eased.
The Department for Transport issued new statutory guidance saying that local authorities should take measures to reallocate road space to people walking and cycling, and that measures should be taken as swiftly as possible. The measures we have introduced are focused on providing space to pedestrians, allowing people to use our high streets safely, to queue safely outside shops and to pass each other at a suitable distance. A standard footway is typically 1.8m and so our approach does mean taking space away from vehicular traffic and while we can not force people to keep 2m apart, it’s important that we provide the opportunity to enable this to happen.
We worked hard to consider how we needed to adapt our roads and footways near schools, colleges and nurseries to safely support social distancing.
Schools were advised to refresh their risk assessment and other health and safety advice for children, young people and staff. They have been encouraging parents and children and young people to walk or cycle where possible, to stagger drop-off and collection times and to plan drop-offs and pick ups to minimise adult to adult contact. To make it safe for children to cycle and walk to school, we will be operating most of our school crossing patrols.
We have identified a small number of sites to be considered in more detail, where we think footfall could be high and existing layouts may present a challenge to social distancing. Warning ‘wig wag’ signals (where fitted) will now operate throughout the day to warn road users of staggered start and finish times and additional social distancing signage will be available. We are also re-phasing some light controlled crossings in favour of pedestrians to assist with social distancing.
Through Emergency Active Travel Funding (EATF), the Highways Response Group are now working on the next phase of social distancing project, which includes the installation of street furniture, which includes planters and parklets. These additions will replace a number of temporary measures, including orange barriers, principally on a semi-permanent basis.
Hertford town centre had the initial implementation of planters on Fore Street on 17 September to enable the road to stay closed.
We are working with stakeholders, including district and borough councils to oversee the strategic implementation of the next phase of measures to replace as much of the temporary orange barriers as possible.
The Highways Response Group is working collaboratively with the Road Safety team on upcoming schemes, considering all current school measures, including walking bubbles and cycle routes. Both teams are ensuring that the next phase of measures are integrating well with the return to schools and listening to feedback from stakeholders on improvements required on the highway.
This month saw the completion of the first active travel corridor- Digswell Park Road is open as a through road for all walkers, cyclists, equestrians and non-motor traffic travelling into or out of Welwyn Garden City. We welcome all feedback on the route, which can be found here: www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/temporarycyclelanes