A temporary one-way system for traffic has been introduced in Queen Street, Exeter, in a bid to boost walking and cycling during the coronavirus pandemic.
Devon County Council’s (DCC) scheme, part of the Government’s Active Travel Fund initiative, aims to aid social distancing in one of the highest areas of footfall in the city.
The eastbound road has been made one-way between Paul Street and Northernhay Street, where it has been narrowed to a single-lane of traffic.
A revised layout in Queen Street provides more space for pedestrians on the narrowest section, says DCC.
Iron Bridge has also been made one-way westbound from Paul Street to South of Dinham Road.
Temporary signals have been installed in Northernhay Street and the junction of Queen Street and Paul Street to enable two-way access for buses, taxis and cyclists.
Cyclists are also able to cycle in both directions on Iron Bridge.
Service vehicles can still access Upper Paul Street and Queen Street South, but vehicle access from Paul Street is no longer allowed.
The new layout has been introduced in lockdown – while traffic levels are lower – to give people chance to get used to the changes before students return to Exeter College and travel demand increases.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, DCC cabinet member for highway management, said: “Social distancing is likely to continue even when lockdown restrictions start to ease, so the extra space will be needed for pedestrians on Queen Street, particularly when students return to the college.
“We recognise that the proposed changes to the road layout may cause some inconvenience to traffic, but it’s vital that we prevent pedestrians from overcrowding in Queen Street as health and safety is paramount.”
St David’s and Haven Banks representative Cllr Carol Whitton added: “I am delighted that this scheme will result in a doubling of the width of the pavement in the narrowest part of Queen Street which will help to keep Exeter people safe as the city moves out of the current lockdown.
“Thankfully, infection rates in the city have reduced dramatically over recent weeks, and the widening of the pavement in the busy section of Queen Street, opposite the RAMM, will help keep those rates low during these next few critical months of the pandemic as life begins to return to normal in the city centre and while we wait for the vaccination programme to be rolled out across our population.”