BRADFORD Council is set to introduce major changes to many district streets in an effort to make social distancing easier for pedestrians and cyclists.

Changes will include part of Hall Ings - home to several bus stops, being made one-lane each way, the widening of cycle lanes and temporary markings added to pavements to allow people to socially distance.

And the Council will also be waiving its £300 a year charge for businesses to set up tables and chairs on public highways outside their business.

There are parts of Bradford, including the city centre, where it is currently not possible to maintain social distancing and go about day-to-day life, according to the authority.

Although the measures are temporary - many may become permanent once lockdown ends.

Bradford businesses will need to prepare to keep social distancing once lockdown is lifted - meeting hears

Some schemes are accelerating plans that were already in place. Last year it was revealed that a section of Hall Ings would be pedestrianised in the future.

And 20mph zones planned for Shipley are being brought forward because of the current situation.

A statement from the Council this afternoon said: "Like many cities around the world dealing with lockdown and planning for a post-Covid-19 world the Council has been looking at a range of proposals including temporarily widening pavements and cycle lanes to help people maintain two metres social distance as they shop, walk or cycle around the district, improving crossings for pedestrians, and reducing bottlenecks and slowing vehicle speeds to make the roads safer for cyclists and walkers.

"Over the next couple of weeks a first round of measures will be introduced as part of the Council’s response to this challenge."

These will include

Reducing Hall Ings in the city centre to one lane in both directions from Jacobs Well roundabout to Bridge Street to help passengers wait safely for their buses.

Reducing speed limits in Shipley town centre and on roads near schools to 20mph to help children walk safely to school - this measure is due to be introduced in June

Provide social distancing measures on The Grove in Ilkley to help shoppers access local businesses.

Widening the footway under the railway bridge at Wheatley Lane in Ilkley.

Putting down temporary markings on widened pavements to help people queuing to access local shops and businesses maintain appropriate distance from others in the queue.

Widening of non-segregated cycle lanes on roads.

Pedestrian crossings at Princes Way and Bridge Street in the city centre have been modified to automatically provide a ‘green man’ crossing signal without the need for people to push the call button. Other crossings are being considered for similar modifications although all pedestrian crossings in Bradford are fitted with detectors which automatically extend the time given for pedestrians to cross the road, which will help with observing social distancing.

Working in partnership with Capital of Cycling to loan bicycles to key workers and hiring a ‘Cycling and Active Travel Champion’ officer.

Suspending, initially for 12 months, the £300 charge for an outdoor seating licence for pubs and restaurants.

Bradford Council is working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority and local interest groups to develop these plans.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “We don't know how long social distancing will be necessary but we do know that in some locations there isn’t enough space to maintain the recommended two-metre distance.

"People must be able to walk and cycle safely, whether it's to get to work, for exercise or essential trips to the shops.

“Some of the immediate measures we are announcing today are temporary but where appropriate may become permanent.

"They will not only help us to emerge stronger out of lockdown but they will also demonstrate the ways in which prioritising sustainable transport, where possible, can contribute to improving the health of our citizens and reducing the district’s carbon footprint in the years to come, in line with our Climate Emergency pledge.

"People are seeing the benefits of a less car dominated society during lockdown and we want to encourage that.

“We will also be pressing the Government for a Covid-19 response fund to help councils such as Bradford implement these types of measures, as well as asking for a further relaxation of the processes required to promote temporary and permanent Traffic Regulation Orders.

“We will also call on the Department for Transport to provide guidance on sign and road marking designs which can be used on the roads to help maintain social distancing measures, together with granting authorities outside London appropriate enforcement powers to maintain measures and deal with people who do not comply with these new arrangements.”

Bradford Civic Society last week made calls to the Council to re-think the city centre to allow better social distancing after lockdown. 

They singled out cramped streets such as Market Street - saying it would be difficult for people to walk down many city streets if people were queuing to get into businesses.

Si Cunningham, chair of the Civic Society, said: "These initial measures are welcome and I’m really pleased that Bradford Council is being proactive in creating much safer environments for pedestrians.

"I hope that some of the more ambitious schemes, such as Transforming Cities, can be accelerated so that Bradford can crack on with creating an even more attractive city centre in time for things like Bradford Live and the new market. 

"Our Civic Society Place Panel is continuing to work on its own suggestions for how Bradford can use its architectural assets to really thrive, and we’ll share these with the council and the public in due course."