The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all our lives and the way in which we work, socialise and communicate. It also has had enormous impacts on our transport system, radically reducing current travel levels and likely to alter our patterns of movement for some time to come. In addition, it has dramatically impacted businesses, requiring new operational approaches by many retailers, restaurant, cafes and other businesses for many months to come.
In many cities and towns across Ireland, there has been the need to review current street arrangements in order to address the new circumstances arising from social distancing requirements and altered travel patterns.
Types of changes that are considered include:
- Widening of footpaths to facilitate queuing outside shops and enable social distancing;
- Potential pedestrianisation of some streets where necessary and feasible to accommodate social distancing, particularly where this supports business activities;
- Potential one-way systems to create space for footpath widening;
- Altering traffic signal times to reduce pedestrian waiting/crowding plus the automatic activation of some pedestrian phases in order to aid pedestrian movement and to minimise contact with signal push buttons;
- Providing additional temporary facilities for cyclists; and
- Provision of some external space where appropriate to support business activities.
The above are just some examples of the type of changes that are being introduced in some locations and will continue to be introduced in the weeks and months ahead. It is envisaged that these types of measures will be introduced on a temporary basis, using mainly preformed materials i.e. bollards, pencil cones, orcas and similar products.
The National Transport Authority (NTA), with the support of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, provides both technical and financial support to local authorities who are introducing on-street measures to assist in enabling cities and towns to function under the new circumstances arising from the Covid-19 public health emergency.
In terms of technical support, the NTA provide guidance and assistance in determining and designing suitable temporary measures for particular circumstances. In relation to financial support, the NTA, through funding provided by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, grant aid in full various intervention proposals, subject to those proposals being agreed with the NTA in advance of implementation.