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Active travel: How to safely operate a pop-up cycle lane

Updated: Jun 4

As the country prepares for working life after COVID-19, councils are being urged to help people keep up the daily exercise we are all taking and encourage more to leave their cars at home.


Partly because pollution rates have decreased so much that we don't want to undo one of the only positives to come out of the pandemic, but also partly to do with the fact that when people do return to work, the transport network may find it difficult to cope with all the cars back on the road all at once while we are all trying to maintain social distancing. It also minimises the risk of many people relying on public transport.


The below image depicts a pop-up cycle lane being used in Leicester (picture courtesy Dan Martin/Leicester Mercury) which uses plastic barriers. We would not advocate the use of plastic barrier and would suggest portable steel barriers, which are much more robust.

How a cycle lane shouldn't look

What is active travel?

Active travel is all about encouraging the public to keep up their daily exercise that has been advocated during lockdown. To help active travel be put into action, a dedicated fund has been announced to councils for the reallocation of road space.


Types of active travel:

  • Using cones and barriers to widen footways and pavements along lengths of road, particularly outside shops and transport hubs.

  • Encouraging walking and cycling to school, e.g. through the introduction of more ‘school streets’. Pioneered in London, these are areas around schools where motor traffic is restricted at pick-up and drop-off times, during term-time.

  • Reducing speed limits: 20mph speed limits are being more widely adopted as an appropriate speed limit for residential roads.

  • Introducing pedestrian and cycle zones by restricting access for motor vehicles at certain times, or at all times, to specific streets, or networks of streets, particularly town centres and high streets.

How though do you create a safe pop-up cycle or walking lane?

In order to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe, there needs to be a physical barrier in place, separating people with live traffic.

BG800 steel barrier, that can be used on a pop-up cycle lane

A pop-up bike lane is a quick thing to create but in order to make it safe for cyclists, it should not simply be a case of making a cone taper alongside a live traffic lane.


A steel, portable barrier, with low-deflection properties such as BG800 temporary barrier is the ideal solution. A dedicated Vehicle Restraint System like BG800, will ensure cyclists or pedestrians, are kept safe from parallel-running traffic. Other temporary barriers that are plastic for example, are easily moved, putting cyclists at danger of errant vehicles.


There is also the concern that motorists may not be aware of the cycle lane that has recently appeared, even with signs present. A barrier is the most secure way to ensure vehicles do not breach this space.


Anti-terrorist pop-up cycle lanes

Another issue with the pop-up cycle lanes that may be appearing around the UK, is the fact that unfortunately there is more opportunity for terrorists to take advantage, particularly if the perimeter around the lane is not secure or robust. Hostile vehicle mitigation is something that can easily be set up with the correct products and can provide excellent protection against vehicles being used as weapons against cyclists or pedestrians.


If you want a consultation to find out how barrier can help keep a pop-up cycle lane or walking lane safe, get in touch today on +44 (0) 344 840 0088.

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Contact Highway Care

+44 (0) 344 840 0088

info@highwaycare.com