Changes to our Streets

Active travel and social distancing

As life begins to return to normal, keeping active and staying healthy is a priority for most people. The government continues to ask us to stay alert to control the COVID-19 virus, keeping a distance of up to two metres from others where possible.

Not all footpaths and cycleways provide the space required to remain safe, particularly as there are now more people walking and cycling as part of their everyday activity. This can cause problems when there are queues of people outside shops or busy bus stops or if the footpath or cycleway isn’t wide enough.

Our residents have commented on how, during the lockdown, they appreciated the quieter streets, improved air quality and enjoyed the exercise that being on foot or riding a bike provided. These changes have increased the interactions with our neighbours, allowed for safer family cycle rides and children feeling safer playing outside. These are all benefits that people would like to see continue.

In recognition of this, central government has provided special Emergency Active Travel Funding to local authorities to enable the introduction of temporary measures to support pedestrians and cyclists. The funding is to be used to give more space to people who walk or cycle whilst reducing the numbers of motor vehicles passing through residential areas. By making it easier and safer to walk or cycle for short journeys, or as part of a longer journey, there will be fewer of these trips made by car. This benefits health through additional exercise and improved air quality and should reduce road safety casualties.

In July 2019, BCP Council declared a ‘climate emergency’ with a belief that climate change is a serious risk to Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s future. We committed to work with the wider community to look at how early the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole region can be made carbon neutral, ahead of the UK date of 2050 and set 2030 as its target. Transport is responsible for a quarter of global CO2 emissions, and road transport is by far the biggest contributor. Switching from car to cycling or walking for some of our journeys will help improve the air quality for all of us.

Reducing congestion

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, car use in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole accounted for half of all commuter trips under three miles (five kilometres) with just 5% being undertaken by bike.

This has contributed to our area being the fourth most congested city region in England and 69th in the world. It is important that we do all we can to support people to get about on foot or cycle, for short journeys.

Like you, we do not want to see a return to high levels of traffic congestion.


Extensive international and national research has shown that daily exercise has a major impact of health and conversely that inactivity and obesity greatly increase the risk of a wide range of serious medical conditions.

We hope that these measures will help create a safer and more attractive environment as well as encourage more people to use travel as one possible means of undertaking daily exercise.

Experimental Traffic Orders

An experimental traffic order allows us to put traffic measures in place for a trial period of up to 18 months. During this time, we can assess the impacts of the measures and may make any necessary changes including removal.

We would welcome your feedback throughout the duration of the trials.

At the end of a six month trial period (early 2021), we will make a decision as to whether or not the changes should be extended to the maximum period of 18 months, altered, made permanent or removed.