DfT moves to help councils impose road closures

12.24 | 22 April 2020 | | 4 comments

The DfT has moved to make it easier for local authorities in England to impose car-free streets during the coronavirus pandemic, in a bid to enable key workers to walk and cycle more safely.

On 21 April, the Government agency issued guidance to councils, confirming it has temporarily removed some of the red tape which governs temporary road closures.

Normally to implement a road closure, councils must apply for a traffic regulation order (TRO) – a process which includes a number of requirements, many of which relate to advertising.

The DfT acknowledges some of these elements are difficult to implement due to current restrictions and as a result, is removing the following the requirements:

  • the publishing of TRO adverts in local newspapers 
  • the posting of site notices on streets 
  • making TROs available for public inspection

The DfT hopes the move will help councils close more roads, in able to help people – in particular key workers – to walk and cycle while social distancing.

It adds the temporary guidance will be withdrawn once conditions allow.

Current roads set-up ‘isn’t facilitating’ social distancing
Brighton and Hove City Council has already moved to closed off a major road to allow people to carry out social distancing while walking, running or cycling.

The move comes as cities respond to a decrease in traffic numbers as a result of the coronavirus restrictions and look at opportunities to temporarily open up more space on roads for their residents to keep healthy during lockdown.

Cllr Anne Pissaridou, chair of the city’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “Madeira Drive is a long, wide road right by the seafront and will create an extra safe open space for local people in the area to use for their daily walk or bike ride.

“It will provide a traffic-free place for the many residents in that area who do not have access to a garden.”

The road closure initiative has been supported by a number of organisations, including Barts NHS Trust, Cycling UK, British Cycling, Sustrans, Brompton Cycles and The Ramblers.

Jonathan Kelly, deputy director of operations at Barts NHS Trust, told BBC News: “People require more public space to socially distance safely and the current set-up of the roads isn’t facilitating that adequately.

“As we move out of the virus, it’s important to maintain that distance to avoid infection.

“Personally, I would like to see many more road closures in future to allow people to use forms of travel that are good for them and good for the planet.”



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    Martin Wiltshire’s comment shows that this has been over-hyped. Unfortunately, it is not the golden opportunity to introduce promote safety and social distancing for walking and cycling that some hoped.

    David Davies, London
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

    The advice to local authorities from the DfT indicates a number of matters to consider to try and continue to process both permanent and temporary traffic orders to comply with the legal obligations such as the statutory consultation requirements during the current crisis in view of local newspapers moving to online publications only and the closure of libraries and council offices where deposited documents would normally be available for public to view. There are no changes in the powers granted to LA’s and /or removal of the red tape to administer traffic orders except to sensibly offer alternative ways to publicise proposals reflecting the current circumstances.

    Martin Wiltshire, Southampton
    Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

    As one of the UK’s main “Cycling Demonstration Towns” Brighton was bound to do something high profile. Madeira Drive is definitely a lovely large road and a great recreational space and closing it off is an easy win – it happens here a lot for other events such as the Speed Trials and the finish of the London-Brighton vintage (Old Crocks) run.

    It is great that this road is available for recreational exercise (the local Kemp Town area is densely populated) but Brighton has not closed a major road on the main traffic network. I do wonder how many other very large roads could be closed with such negligible impact to through traffic.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

    With so little motorised traffic on the roads at present, walking and cycling isn’t a problem anyway, so why close roads unnecessarily? Suppose the key workers prefer to drive, rather than walk or cycle?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (6) | Disagree (5)

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