With the easing of lockdown measures, the London Road Safety Council believes it is vital road safety officers are able to continue to deliver education and training in order to protect lives.
In a letter to council leaders, the London Road Safety Council (LRSC) recognises there was a need to reallocate some road safety and active travel officers during the initial Covid-19 response.
It praises the ‘great versatility’ shown by those officers as they provided support in different and unfamiliar roles.
However, with levels of travel now on the rise as lockdown restrictions are lifted, the LRSC is calling on councils to reinstate road safety officers in order to help protect the NHS and support the emergency services.
In particular, the LRSC points to issues including the prevalence of speeding during lockdown – and the anticipated rise in active travel as travellers shun public transport.
The letter reads: “Road safety teams across the Capital have been working in various roles as a direct response to Covid-19, some working within their teams, dealing with school streets, improvements to street space to aid social distancing and related areas of work.
“Many other road safety officers have been allocated to work with vulnerable adults and teams that are dealing with the emergency situation, such as food banks, supporting people that are shielding and driving tasks.
“The volunteer effort has shown the great versatility of the skills of road safety and active travel officers in London to be able to provide such support in the different roles.
“However, road safety is now an important area that needs to be provided in boroughs to help to protect the NHS and support our emergency services.
“Speeds on the road have increased, many more people are being advised to drive rather than use public transport. As part of the London Streetscape plans, new walking and cycling routes along major corridors will be fast-tracked, this includes temporary cycle lanes along routes. There is an expected ten-fold increase in cycling as lockdown is lifted.
“It is now vital that road safety officers continue to deliver road safety education and training to new cyclists, to children who will be travelling to secondary school in September, some of whom would have been away from school for up to six months, and importantly to drivers who are travelling by car.
“The London Road Safety Council recommends that all councils raise awareness of and take responsibility for playing their part in keeping our streets safe during the easing of lockdown measures and beyond.
“We can all manage to protect pedestrians, cyclists and other road users by making sure the road safety officers in our councils are fully staffed.
“The qualified and experienced RSOs should be given support and time to plan strategies and implement training amongst schools and other areas of need, to educate our future drivers and cyclists.
“With our world changing after the Coronavirus pandemic this is a crucial time to set the standards and safe strategies for all our future journeys.”