Wider walkways aid social distancing in Bicester

Pedestrians have more room to socially distance in Bicester Market Square after the council barriered off areas of the highway to widen the footpaths, early on Thursday morning.

Published: Monday, 22nd June 2020

As non-essential shops reopen, Cherwell District Council’s street scene team has been busy preparing the town centre for greater footfall. 
Oxfordshire County Council have been working closely with Cherwell to ensure the changes could be delivered promptly. The suspension of parking to widen footpaths required a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) from the county council. It was the first COVID-19-related TTRO granted in the county. 
Cllr Dan Sames, Cherwell’s lead member for clean and green, said: “After months in lockdown, it is good to see that more shops and businesses are able to once again open their doors. In the months ahead getting the economy back on track is vital but it is also important that people visiting Bicester town centre are able to look out for one another and socially distance.
“To aid this, we as local authorities are working together to identify improvements to the street scene that will encourage active travel and minimise the risk of coronavirus infection. I am pleased that Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council have been able to team up in this way and I am sure it will help to give people the assurance they need to support local businesses.”
County councillor Liam Walker, cabinet member for highway operation and delivery, said: “It is fantastic to see the results of work we have been involved in with local councils and communities start to bear fruit.
“People have seen social distancing in operation for a long time now in essential shops and when they are exercising. That period will put places like Bicester in a good position as more businesses start to open with the support of new social distancing infrastructure.”
Social distancing signs have also been installed by Cherwell’s street scene team, and the council’s community safety officers have also been offering guidance and support to shoppers.
Elsewhere in town, the Healthy Bicester team has installed social distancing signage on the blue line health routes, and the Claremont public toilets have reopened, following refurbishment to install a Changing Places facility.