The Government has issued temporary guidance relaxing publicity requirements for the making of Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) during the COVID-19 pandemic which are to remain in place until "withdrawn once conditions allow".
The move opens up the possibility for authorities (and in particular city authorities) more easily to allocate underutilised roadspace for socially-distancing pedestrians and active travel modes during the pandemic. For example, from Monday 20 April, Brighton & Hove closed its main waterfront road, Madeira Drive, save for walking and cycling.
The lasting effects of the pandemic on urban road use in the future will be watched closely by transport planners and may pave the way for different approaches to restoring urban mobility on a mass scale when pandemic restrictions are lifted. The temporary guidance itself aligns with observable trends for the future of urban mobility (here and internationally) that pre-date the pandemic such as:
1. a desire for more flexible and responsive regulatory tools to manage traffic (reviews and calls for evidence are ongoing into modernising TROs); and
2. a smart city approach to management of roadspace for the benefit of citizens, integrated transport systems, decarbonisation and air quality.
“It’s too early to say exactly what will happen to transport post-pandemic but if trends of more people working from home and lower car use persist, then it might give us the opportunity to re-assess road use in targeted areas.” - Edmund King, President, AA