Roads are set to get busier this week with many Aucklanders returning to work places, schools and tertiary institutions following the Government’s decision to move the country to Alert Level 2 last Thursday, after nearly seven weeks at Alert Levels 4 and 3.
It is expected that more people will continue walking or riding bikes for exercise or as a transport choice to get to work, school or for local shopping trips during Alert Level 2, allowing an alternative way to carry out physical distancing requirements.
Auckland Transport (AT) recently installed 17km of pop-up spaces to ensure there was enough room in busy locations such as Tamaki Drive, Ponsonby Road and Queen Street for people to safely carry out physical distancing as part of efforts to unite against COVID-19. Interim results show that two thirds of Aucklanders are supportive of AT’s temporary initiatives to allow people more space to get out and exercise while maintaining physical distancing.
“We are in the process of reviewing these temporary spaces and looking at their suitability during Alert Level 2,” says Randhir Karma, AT’s Group Manager, Network Management.
“The design means we can make adjustments depending on their need at different Alert Levels or if traffic volumes require us to make changes.”
“It’s important that we continue to do what’s needed to break the chain of Covid-19 and we need to ensure that physical distancing can be done safely when people are walking or riding bikes. We ask that people continue to use the pop-up spaces whenever possible,” he says.
On Ponsonby Road, temporary spaces were adjusted to make sure people have enough room to walk along the footpath, give people space to queue outside restaurants and wait at intersections while maintaining physical distancing.
Bike Auckland Chair, Barbara Cuthbert is amazed by how many people have voted with their feet to walk and cycle around their neighbourhoods in the past few weeks. “They’re enjoying local streets and are now walking and biking to local cafes. Let’s keep making it easier and safer to become a healthy, active city,” she says. Bike Auckland’s Backyard Bike Count found that walking and cycling accounted for 64 per cent of trips across Auckland during lockdown.
If you are planning on heading back to work or school by bike, make sure you visit https://at.govt.nz/cycling-walking/ for tips and cycleway information before you set off.
Thousands of students are also expected to head back to school on Monday and road users are being urged more than ever to be vigilant and slow down around schools.
AT will continue to provide support for schools through the Travelwise programme as students begin to return on Monday. Lowered speed zones outside schools will improve safety and initiatives to encourage the continuation of walking are being rolled out.
The Government asks Aucklanders to minimise non-essential travel. The best place to find the latest information about the COVID-19 situation in New Zealand is on the Government’s special COVID-19 website: https://covid19.govt.nz
Auckland Transport’s COVID-19 page is at: https://at.govt.nz/COVID-19