The enormity of the challenge of getting the UK back to work was revealed on Saturday as the government recognized that Britain's transport network capacity will be reduced by 90%.
The Minister of Transport, Grant Shapps, said at the Downing Street daily news conference that even if a full public transport service is restored, the government’s two-meter physical distance rule will mean that 10% of the normal number of passengers will be able to travel.
As the government struggles to "get Britain moving again" without overcrowding the transport network, Shapps urged more people to continue an emerging green revolution by taking their bikes. The figures show that in some places there has been a 70% increase in the number of people using bicycles for exercise or travel, he said.
"Even when all the trains, buses and trams are fully restored, that will not be enough," warned Shapps. “Measures of social distance mean that everyone who travels will need to contribute to meeting this capacity challenge. Changing our behavior is the biggest thing that defeated this virus. "
The announcement was made when the number of coronavirus deaths in the UK increased to 31,587 – an increase of 346 in 24 hours. Meanwhile, the figures presented by the deputy medical director, Prof. Jonathan Van-Tam, revealed that while bus, metro and train travel remains low, there has been a "gradual increase" in the use of engines.
Van-Tam said it was a "difficult trend to interpret", but that "may reflect that some people are returning to work who made the decision to stop at the beginning of the blockade, but may never have been forced by the guidance to stop" .
Shapps urged the public to travel only when necessary and help prioritize essential workers. "Preventing overcrowding, which can lead to a second peak and more deaths, will be the responsibility of each and every one of us," he said.
The transport secretary presented a £ 2 billion package "to put cycling and walking at the heart of our transport policy" and said a national cycling plan would be published in early June to help double cycling and increase the walk until 2025. Among the measures proposed, are the most popular. – wider bike lanes and sidewalks, as well as exclusive streets for cyclists and buses.
A trial of electronic scooters due to take place next year will also be brought forward to next month. Initially scheduled to take place at four local authorities, the trial will be extended to "all regions of the country that so desire, in an attempt to get electronic scooter rental schemes up and running in cities as quickly as possible."
Electric scooters – which can travel up to 15.5 km / h – are currently banned on roads and pavements in the UK. The government launched a consultation on the legalization of electronic scooters in March and would need to pass secondary legislation to legalize their use.
Shapps also announced £ 10 million in additional support for car charging points on the streets, in view of the growing popularity of electric vehicles and in an effort to "keep this clean and quiet car revolution going."
While an extra £ 250 million has been debated to attract more people to cycle and walk, activists say it is a drop in the ocean in terms of the amount of funding needed to make real changes.
In Manchester, creating the Bee Network, a 1,000 mile network in the Dutch style of walking and cycling, will cost about £ 1.5 billion, according to Chris Boardman, the Olympic champion became a walking and cycling commissioner.
"I am here to clarify it. There is no simple answer – said Shapps." That is why I am here today, notifying that it is very important for people to think about how we are all going to do. "
He said he would later talk about investments in roads and infrastructure and acknowledged that "the car will be a vital part of what is needed". But he added: "You don't have to be a cyclist to benefit from society as a whole by switching to cycling and walking."
He said the survey showed that half of trips outside London are three miles or less. If only 5% of people started cycling to work, that would mean 9m less travel by car, 8m less by train and 13m less by bus.