Walking and cycling improvements around the UK and the world

Since the start of the lockdown across the world there have been growing calls to help with physical distancing for those walking and cycling, including measures such as widened footways, pop up-cycle lanes, and car-free walking and cycling streets.

The need to change our towns and cities to accommodate more sustainable forms of travel has been championed by the Prime Minister, who told Mayors across the UK to do more to encourage walking and cycling. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Manchester’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Chris Boardman, have also both been vocal about the need to implement these changes.

In April, the Scottish government announced 10m of funding to bring these changes in, and this was followed by an announcement from Westminster of a new £250 million fund to support more people to walk and cycle and avoid public transport during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

Its been encouraging to see the progress made by local authorities across the country, and indeed from countries around the world. There have been some excellent examples already of approaches to give space to pedestrians and cyclists. We’ve picked out some of our favourites below, but if you know of any more please do let us know – Share with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #WalkingNeighbourhood, or email communications@ramblers.zendesk.com.


A report from UCL showed that 2/3rds of pavements in London aren’t wide enough for people to walk two metres apart. Some areas have looked to fix this by shutting busy roads to cars, such as in Hackney, and others have temporarily widened pavements, like this example on Deptford High Street.

The Mayor of London has now announced a new London Streetspace plan will overhaul the city's streets, transforming them to create new cycle lanes and wider pavements to accommodate increased demand for walking and cycling.


In Manchester, Chris Boardman, the walking and cycling commissioner, has been particularly vocal. Highway bosses in the city implemented changes early on, reducing the waiting time at around 1,000 pedestrian crossings to keep people moving and to make walking easier.

Then, as with London, the Mayor of Manchester announced the Safe Street Safe Lives plan, an initiative to make getting around the city-region easier when walking or cycling. This came with a £5 million fund to implement the changes.


The rest of the UK

There have been local changes across many local authorities across the UK, such as in Leicester where the UK’s first pop-up cycle lane was built. A 1km ‘key worker corridor’, the new route protects cyclists and connects the city to the main hospital.

In Sheffield, an interactive map has been released, allowing people to submit comments about locations where active travel and physical distancing are difficult. The crowdsourced locations and suggestions will form the base of the region’s Active Travel Implementation Plan.

Edinburgh have announced a series of measures to improve life for people walking and cycling, including road lane closures, pop up cycle lanes, expanded cycle lanes and bus gates.

Around the world

The need to rapidly scale up active travel, and give space to pedestrians, is something that is pressing around the world. And there have been many great examples of countries introducing changes.

A number of cities have brought in popup cycle lanes, such as Paris which opened 650 kilometres of cycle lanes for people to get around post-lockdown. The need for space is not just about travel though, and the city of Vilnius has seen an opportunity to boost its bars and cafes, which have been hit hard by lockdown, by giving over large amounts of public space for them to continue to operate safely

Let us know what you’ve come across!

We’ve picked out some of our favourites, but if you know of any more please do let us know – Share with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #WalkingNeighbourhood, or email communications@ramblers.zendesk.com.

Geoff Evans

It is long overdue that a discussion about aggressive and dangerous cyclists takes place. Assuming that they are largely a benign influence on the countryside is naive at best. We need spaces where cyclists are not permitted just as we would not be welcomed on dedicated mountain bike courses