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4. Management of urban centres

When applying the steps, owners and operators are advised to consider the common issues and temporary interventions that have been identified for urban centres. Common issues outlined in this chapter include managing high footfall and queues around shops and busy high streets. It also suggests potential interventions to these issues from pavement markings, to green infrastructure such as planters, to digital signs.

Consideration should be given to:

  • Pedestrian space
  • Pedestrian movement
  • Queues
  • Traffic management
  • Active travel measures

4.1 Social distancing in urban centres

To ensure social distancing in urban centres, owners and operators are advised to consider the use of pedestrian space, movement of people, queuing requirements and traffic management.

The focus should be on temporary interventions in areas of highest footfall, particularly those that provide a range of attractions and services as they pose the greatest risk.

This guidance should be read alongside Transport guidance and advice regarding the reallocation of road space for active travel and social distancing.

Separate guidance for business and retail is being prepared, including management of queues, footfall and hygiene.

Links to further guidance can be found in the Appendix.

Every urban centre will have its own unique issues and temporary interventions that can be introduced to enable social distancing. However, there will be some common issues. The diagram below identifies key urban centres that are likely to be focal zones. These are likely to be areas of constrained space and with high levels of footfall.

 

Figure 1: Overview - typical urban centre illustration

Figure 1: Overview - typical urban centre illustration

Issues in urban centres

Issues for maintaining social distancing in urban centres may include:

  • High footfall and areas of dense population, particularly at peak times.
  • Multiple queues due to restricted entry and exit points into different areas or shops.
  • Pedestrian movement flows varying as different people move to different shops and facilities.
  • Constraints on pedestrian movement from unnecessary obstacles.
  • Interaction between cyclists and pedestrians in shared use areas.
  • Need to provide space for regular, safe, accessible formal and informal road crossing points.
  • Need to provide space for sufficient secure cycle parking at convenient locations.
  • Need to accommodate people entering and exiting spaces from different types of transport e.g. cars, bikes, foot, bus, train and metro in the same area.
  • Higher levels of traffic congestion and increased need for vehicle access.
  • Multiple landowners and stakeholders operating in the same areas requiring a coordinated approach.
  • Ability to wash hands or hand sanitation.
  • Disabled people and other people who share protected characteristics should be considered and consulted. Equality Impact assessments should be undertaken on any changes implemented to ensure people with protected characteristics are not disproportionately negatively impacted.
  • Where access provision is taken out to accommodate social distancing alternative arrangements should be made.

Potential interventions that could support social distancing

This is what you should be considering for the use of pedestrian space:

  • Footway widening to accommodate distancing between pedestrians, including the use of temporary barriers in the carriageway; changes to parking bays and loading bays. Cycle lane changes should increase or maintain provision.
  • Where there is potential for conflict between pedestrians and cyclists in shared space areas, the introduction of clearly marked segregated cycle routes should be explored. These would need to be delineated in ways that are compatible with the requirements of blind and partially sighted pedestrians.
  • Reduce unnecessary obstacles, such as pavement signage, pedestrian guard rails and add markings/tape on seating to maintain social distancing. Security considerations and the impacts of measures on disabled people and other groups who share protected characteristics needs to be kept under consideration and may call for a balanced approach.
  • Signing and communications to remind pedestrians of distance requirements. This could be through spray markings and signage at entrances and movement intersections.

This is what you should be considering for cyclists:

  • Road space reallocation to introduce temporary, segregated cycle lanes (see Active Travel Design Guidance for further information)
  • Installation of safe and secure cycle parking at key locations.
  • Allow cycling contraflow in one-way streets where safe and there is demand.
  • Create modal filters allowing cyclists to continue their journey through road closures
  • Provide clear signage for destinations, aiding new cyclists, and for cycle parking.
  • Where there is potential for conflict between pedestrians and cyclists in shared space areas, the introduction of clearly marked segregated cycle routes should be explored. These would need to be delineated in ways that are compatible with the requirements of blind and partially sighted pedestrians.

This is what you should be considering for pedestrian movement:

  • One-way movement of pedestrians to maintain 2 metre (6ft 6 inches) distancing.
  • Signing to encourage pedestrians to wait and allow others to pass at entryways or along footpaths.
  • Provide separate entry and exit routes for pedestrian access with clear signs.
  • Maximise access to entry and exit routes to minimise queues.
  • Move bus stops/shelters to areas which can accommodate queuing in line with social distancing requirements.

This is what you should be considering for queuing:

  • Defined areas to indicate where pedestrians should stand when queuing using spray markings or temporary barriers.
  • Management of multiple queues for different businesses through clear signing and the use of stewards as appropriate.
  • “Do not join the queue” signs provided at popular destinations, when capacity reached.
  • Alternative provision and / or seating for people who are unable to stand for long periods.
  • Protection of queues through physical security measures / street furniture.

This is what you should be considering for traffic management:

  • Traffic lanes could be closed, made one way or completely pedestrianised. Links to further guidance can be found in the Appendix.
  • Consider the need for delivery access, timing and essential access for street works and maintenance.
  • Consider car parking layout and spacing, reducing capacity if appropriate. On street parking could be suspended to facilitate other measures.
  • Signing to inform pedestrians and road users of changes to road layouts.
  • Security considerations, and the impact of measures on disabled people and other people who share protected characteristics, need to be kept under consideration.
  • This includes access for blue badge holders and may call for a balanced approach.

4.2 Social distancing in high streets and town centres

High streets are the main street in a town or city and are the typical location for most shops, banks, offices and other businesses. High streets typically have high levels of footfall within constrained and complex urban environments. They have a wide variety of different and competing user groups and modes of transport. High streets have peak usage times in the morning, lunch time, late afternoon and at the weekend. It is within high streets that conflict in achieving social distancing is most likely to arise.

Figure 3: Social distancing interventions in high streets and town centres

Figure 2: Social distancing interventions in high streets and town centres

Typical temporary interventions to consider for high streets and town centres:

  1. Widen footways by using the carriageway
  2. Reduce traffic speeds using traffic calming measures
  3. Pedestrianise and consider impact on traffic movement
  4. Suspend on street parking to facilitate other measures
  5. Minimise pinch points, whilst taking into consideration security and the needs disabled and elderly people
  6. Safe, level crossing points
  7. Seating areas for the disabled and elderly
  8. Introduce cycleways
  9. Phase delivery timings in loading bays
  10. Queue marking indicators on pedestrian areas, focusing queues along the building frontage where appropriate
  11. Signs on social distancing and circulation, particularly at conflict points such as junctions and crossings
  12. Use existing street furniture (e.g. lampposts) for signing to avoid impacting on pedestrian flows
  13. Allow space where multiple queues meet
  14. Signs to limit queue length, helping manage multiple queues and pedestrian flows
  15. Stewards to help manage queues and pedestrian flows
  16. Keep building entrances and footpaths clear, whilst taking account of the needs of disabled and elderly people and security considerations
  17. Maximise access and introduce one-way entry and exit points
  18. Signs reminding users to socially distance at bus stop waiting areas
  19. Additional cleaning regimes and maintenance
  20. Signs at public toilets for queuing, social distancing and automatic sanitising

Figure 4:Signage promoting social distancing – Wales (Copyright – Credit: ITV Cymru Wales)

Figure 3: Signage promoting social distancing – Wales (Copyright – Credit: ITV Cymru Wales)

Figure 4: Tactile floor markings (Copyright – Credit: RNIB)

Figure 4: Tactile floor markings (Copyright – Credit: RNIB)

Figure 6: Safer Travel Advice – Wales (Copyright Credit: Transport for Wales)

Figure 5: Safer Travel Advice – Wales (Copyright Credit: Transport for Wales)

Figure 6: Traffic cones in place around Roath Park to stop visitors parking – Cardiff (Copyright – Credit: ITV Cymru Wales)

Figure 6: Traffic cones in place around Roath Park to stop visitors parking – Cardiff (Copyright – Credit: ITV Cymru Wales)

Figure 8: Physical barriers to separate vehicular traffic and widen pedestrian space – London

Figure 7: Physical barriers to separate vehicular traffic and widen pedestrian space – London

Figure 9: Markings for social distancing, separating queues and the general public on the footway – London

Figure 8: Markings for social distancing, separating queues and the general public on the footway – London

Figure 10: Digital signs to inform on latest social distancing advice– Watford

Figure 9: Digital signs to inform on latest social distancing advice– Watford

Figure 11: Social distancing information – Cardiff (Copyright Credit ITV Cymru Wales)

Figure 10: Social distancing information – Cardiff (Copyright Credit ITV Cymru Wales)

Figure 12: Reallocated road space for walking and cycling – Milan, Italy (Copyright REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo)

Figure 11: Reallocated road space for walking and cycling – Milan, Italy (Copyright REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo)

Figure 12: Example of a physically separated cycle lane.

Figure 12: Example of a physically separated cycle lane.

Figure 13: Pavement marker stickers for safe distance queuing outside shops & takeaways

Figure 13: Pavement marker stickers for safe distance queuing outside shops & takeaways

Figure 14: Signing to encourage social distancing – London 

Figure 14: Signing to encourage social distancing – London 

 

Case Study - Cardiff

Cardiff City Council is preparing a Recovery Strategy to create a City Centre environment which is perceived as safe, fully accessible, socially distanced, healthy, well managed and welcoming.

A package of safety and greening/clean air measures will be introduced in local and district centres. The initial focus will be on key safety measures such as reducing speed limits, raising awareness of the need to drive safely, reduced vehicular access and footway widening. Interventions are likely to be made using cones, barriers and bolt down kerbs that can be installed and adjusted quickly.

Other measures could include, pop up cycle routes, street greening, signed/marked routes to facilitate movement at a safe social distance. Designated queuing areas outside shops identified by the use of on street markings.

Cardiff city centre scheme

Arup©

Publicity and communications will be part of the daily experience before, at entry, within and after leaving the city centre. Welcome points will be installed at the main pedestrian access points to the city. These points will offer information to the visitor on how the city centre works, how to visit in a safe way, how to reach particular destinations, a walking plan, hand washing facilities, cycle parking facilities and a member of staff to assist.

Cardiff city centre scheme 2

Measures will include Castle Street pedestrian/cycle improvements and East-West Cycleway.  Re-allocation of road space to provide additional space for pedestrians and cyclists to enable social distancing, manage traffic volume and encourage essential journeys to be made by active modes.

4.3 Social distancing in enclosed or semi-enclosed retail areas and street markets

Enclosed and semi-enclosed retail areas are likely to have high peak time footfall levels and restricted access and exit points. In addition, they will have delivery and servicing requirements.

Typical temporary interventions to consider for retail areas

Typical temporary interventions to consider for retail areas:

  1. Queue marking indicators and barriers outside main entrance
  2. Maximise access and introduce one-way entry and exit points
  3. Phasing of access and opening times
  4. Keep building entrances clear
  5. Identify waiting zones
  6. Phase delivery timings in loading bays
  7. Signs on social distancing and circulation
  8. One-way circulation for street markets
  9. Queue markings for street stalls
  10. Signing and information provided at widened entry and exit points for markets

 

Figure 15: Proposals for cycle lane Cardiff (Copyright: Cardiff Council)

Figure 15: Proposals for cycle lane Cardiff (Copyright: Cardiff Council)

Figure 16: A yellow stripe painted in the middle of a pedestrian street to help people comply with social distance guidelines – Aalborg, Denmark, (Copyright Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS edited)

Figure 16: A yellow stripe painted in the middle of a pedestrian street to help people comply with social distance guidelines – Aalborg, Denmark, (Copyright Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS edited)

 

Figure 17:  keep your distance signage vale of Glamorgan (Credit; Vale of Glamorgan council)

Figure 17:  Keep your distance signage Vale of Glamorgan (Credit: Vale of Glamorgan Council)

Figure 20: Stewards to direct queuing at shops– London

Figure 18: Stewards to direct queuing at shops – London

The need to provide safe access to our Urban Centres and Public Spaces could be significantly enhanced through the addition of multifunctional green infrastructure elements. The use of such elements to support social distancing could provide attractive and distinctive shopping and leisure destinations.

For example, Figure 19 illustrates the use of parklets to provide more space for people to stop, play, sit and rest and can also provide greenery, art and cycle parking. During the recovery phase, parklets may provide an opportunity to provide additional safe space for people, particularly outside cafes, bars and restaurants.

Other ways to repurpose our outside space might be consideration of how some of our businesses could incorporate use of awnings, canopies, outdoor seating, screening, planters used as barriers, or developing outdoor market space (subject to appropriate planning permission).

Figure 19: Parklets (Copyright: Paul Carstairs / Arup)

Figure 19: Parklets (Copyright: Paul Carstairs / Arup)

4.4 Social distancing in public places around commercial buildings

The public spaces around commercial buildings will typically be around office buildings, office developments and business parks. The ownership of these spaces is likely to vary with many spaces associated with private landowners. The use of these spaces will be heavily influenced by the working patterns of the users of these offices. Commercial spaces will typically have higher volume and density of use at the start of the working day particularly 8-9am and at the end of the working day between 5-6pm. Owners and operators should be aware that businesses and other commercial operations may implement staggered opening times to support the facilitation of social distancing in public spaces or on public transport. Any changes to opening hours / hours of operation and the impact this may have on foot traffic in public spaces should be considered.

Figure 21: Social distancing interventions in areas around commercial buildings

Figure 20: Social distancing interventions in areas around commercial buildings

Typical temporary interventions to consider for commercial areas:

  1. Queue marking indicators outside office entrances
  2. Maximise access and introduce one-way entry and exit points
  3. Phasing of access and opening times
  4. Keep building entrances clear
  5. Widen footways by using the carriageway
  6. Phase delivery timings in loading bays

4.5 Social distancing in areas surrounding transport hubs

The areas around transport hubs such as bus stations and train stations. These areas may have high levels of footfall with large numbers of people congregating and waiting. There is typically interchange with other modes of transport like taxis, cycle hubs and private car use. Transport guidance is available to help transport organisations and operators implement social distancing measures and should be read alongside this document (link can be found in the Appendix).

Figure 21: Social distancing interventions in areas around commercial buildings

Figure 21: Social distancing interventions in areas around commercial buildings

Typical temporary interventions to consider for transport hubs:

  1. Develop a zonal plan for station hub highlighting destinations, zones where there are likely to be higher numbers of passengers etc.
  2. Queue marking indicators and barriers outside main entrance
  3. Maximise access and introduce one-way entry and exit points
  4. Allow space where multiple queues meet
  5. Identify waiting zones
  6. Signs on social distancing and circulation
  7. Taxi, bus, cycle and pick up to have waiting zones with identified routes through
  • Consider reallocation of station forecourt to provide more space for interchange.
  • Consider appointment of stewards to help manage the flow of people into, and out of transport hubs
  • Consider requirements of disabled people.

Figure 25: One way entrance and exit access with queueing markers – Manchester

Figure 22: One way entrance and exit access with queueing markers – Manchester

Figure 26: Signs for queues at transport hubs – London

Figure 23: Signs for queues at transport hubs – London

Figure 27: Separation of cycle lanes from vehicular movement – Berlin (Copyright, Reuters images)

Figure 24: Separation of cycle lanes from vehicular movement – Berlin (Copyright, Reuters images)

Figure 28: Pop up cycle lanes being installed. – Berlin (Copyright, Reuters images)

Figure 25: Pop up cycle lanes being installed. – Berlin (Copyright, Reuters images)

Figure 29: Signs attached to existing street furniture– London

Figure 26: Signs attached to existing street furniture– London

Figure 30: Social distancing markers – London

Figure 27: Social distancing markers – London

Figure 31: Footway widening outside station entrance – London

Figure 28: Footway widening outside station entrance – London

Management of green spaces

Green spaces will typically include parks, recreation grounds, publicly accessible playing fields, public open spaces associated with housing developments and public burial grounds. These areas are likely to be enclosed by a variety of boundary treatments with ‘pinch point’ at entrances. The surrounding streets tend to have limited space. Green spaces will have high levels of use during warmer weather and daytime hours. Those in urban centres typically have high levels of footfalls and greater likelihood of congestion at entrance and exit points.

Common issues outlined in this chapter include managing high footfall and restricted entry and exit points. It also suggests potential interventions to these issues from signage to floor markings and widening of footpaths.

As with other public spaces consideration should be given to managing:

  • Pedestrian space
  • Pedestrian movement
  • Queues
  • Traffic management

For all green spaces care should be taken to avoid the use of materials and/or surface paints that may be detrimental to overall environmental quality. They should not contribute to waste left in the public realm. The use of vinyl fence banners, street bollard sleeves and signage should be managed and removed promptly where it is no longer required.

Any structures which are required should be of sufficient material quality so as not to undermine the quality of the experiences of users.  Particular sensitivity is needed in proximity to heritage assets and/or otherwise special environments.

Some open spaces may lend themselves to controlled/pop up spaces to support economic recovery, especially for small businesses, where social distancing can be maintained.

4.6 Overview of issues and interventions in parks and green spaces

Every park and green space will have its own unique issues and potential interventions that could be introduced to enable social distancing but there are likely to be some commonalities.

Issues around parks and green spaces

Issues for maintaining social distancing around parks and green spaces may include:

  • High levels of footfall particularly in warmer weather, during the day and in dense urban centres.
  • Addressing different needs of multiple user groups including pedestrians, cyclists, young people, families, disabled people and older people or people sharing protected characteristics.
  • Restricted entry and exit points limiting the flow of people and potentially creating queues.
  • Need to accommodate different users moving in different patterns across these spaces.
  • Visitor car parking, loading and maintenance access.
  • Ability to wash hands or hand sanitation. Where it is not possible to provide facilities this should be clearly signposted and the public encouraged to plan visits accordingly and consider carrying their own hand sanitiser.
  • Playgrounds and outdoor gyms may remain closed.
  • As outdoor sports courts are opened people must follow the Welsh Government measures on social distancing.

Potential interventions that could support social distancing

This is what you should be considering for the use of pedestrian space:

  • Footway widening to accommodate distancing between pedestrians, including through use of temporary barriers, changes to parking bays, and cycle lanes.
  • Reduce unnecessary obstacles and add markings/tape on seating to maintain social distancing. Security considerations and the impacts of measures on disabled people and other people that share protected characteristics and other groups needs to be kept under consideration and may call for a balanced approach.
  • Signing and communications to remind pedestrians and cyclists of distance requirements. This could be through spray markings and signing at entrances.

This is what you should be considering for pedestrian movement:

  • One-way movement of pedestrians to maintain 2 metre (6ft 6 inches) distancing.
  • Signing to encourage pedestrians to wait and allow others to pass at entryways or along footpaths.
  • Provide separate entry and exit routes for pedestrian access with clear signs.
  • Enlarge entrances and exits to minimise queues.

This is what you should be considering for queueing:

  • Defined areas to indicate where pedestrians should stand when queuing using spray markings or temporary barriers.
  • “Do not join the queue” signs provided at popular destinations, when capacity reached.

This is what you should be considering for traffic management:

  • Traffic lanes could be closed, made one way or completely pedestrianised.
  • Consider the need for delivery access and timing and essential access for street works and maintenance.
  • Consider car parking layouts and spacing, reducing capacity as appropriate.
  • On street parking could be suspended to facilitate other measures.
  • Security considerations and the impact of measures on disabled people, access to blue badge holders, and other people that share protected characteristics needs to be kept under consideration and may call for a balanced approach.
  • Signs indicating when the park is likely to be busy/quiet to encourage peak usage spreading, particularly where there may be some specific local factors that drive usage.

Case study - UK

In Brighton & Hove the council has temporarily closed Madeira Drive to motor vehicle traffic to open up the sea front promenade for greater pedestrian use. The area will be stewarded from 8am to 8pm daily to ensure that businesses will maintain essential access to their properties, while maximising the usage of the area for pedestrians and cyclists.

The diagram below identifies some of the typical issues and potential interventions that could be considered to enable safer levels of social distancing within parks and green spaces.

Figure 32: Social distancing interventions in areas around parks

Figure 29: Social distancing interventions in areas around parks

  1. Widen footways on approach streets to main entrance
  2. Widen footways within park
  3. Provide movement guidance around park including consideration for one way circulation
  4. Reduce traffic speeds
  5. Increase space for pedestrians and cycles beside park entrances
  6. Minimise pinch points, whilst taking into consideration security and the needs of the disabled and elderly
  7. Reduce unnecessary obstacles and add markings/tape on seating to maintain social distancing
  8. Queue marking indicators at main entrance, popular park destinations and toilets
  9. Signs on social distancing and circulation, particularly at conflict points such as junctions and crossings
  10. Use existing street furniture for signing to avoid impacting on pedestrian flows
  11. Allow space where multiple queues meet
  12. Stewards to help manage queues and pedestrian flows
  13. Maximise access and introduce one-way entry and exit points
  14. Additional cleaning regime and maintenance
  15. Safe level crossing points to access park

Figure 33: Parallel footpath created through recent social distancing use– London

Figure 30: Parallel footpath created through recent social distancing use– London

Figure 34: Social distancing floor markings – London

Figure 31: Social distancing floor markings – London

Figure 35: Public health information signing in park – London

Figure 32: Public health information signing in park – London

Figure 36: Signing to communicate social distancing – London

Figure 33: Signing to communicate social distancing – London

Figure 37: Signing to communicate social distancing – Walsall

Figure 34: Signing to communicate social distancing – Walsall

Figure 38: Signing at park entrances to guide and inform –London. Signs should be kept out of rights of way

Figure 35: Signing at park entrances to guide and inform –London. Signs should be kept out of rights of way

 

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