Why Leeds must change and adapt commuting habits as lockdown measures ease - Laura Collins, YEP Editor

A new study reveals that our travel habits have changed during the pandemic - so how do we bring this into our new routines?
The M621 pictured during the start of the lockdown in Leeds.The M621 pictured during the start of the lockdown in Leeds.
The M621 pictured during the start of the lockdown in Leeds.

More than a third of people are rethinking how they will travel after the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey today reveals.

Over the last two months we have all taken a step back to pause and reflect on the catastrophic impact of the virus.

It has changed everything about our lives as we know it.

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We’ve been forced into new scenarios - be that working remotely, being parted from our family network and even rethinking the way we go about our household food shopping.

And within that moment of reflection we start to look at what we want to take away from it as a society.

While the scars of the pandemic are still incredibly raw there will come a moment when we look at how we heal as a nation and what we want to do when we emerge from the new norm.

And a lot of these decisions will impact how we go about our daily lives.

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The latest poll, which has been commissioned by Cycling UK, says that people will change their travel habits by perhaps being less reliant on their cars and other motor vehicles.

Meanwhile some participants say they have been cycling more in light of the various restrictions on public transport as part of the lockdown.

The charity’s findings also suggest that nearly six million people are getting out on their bikes more and as such it is leading the calls for more traffic-free cycle tracks and paths to high streets and town centres while more want designated cycle lanes on the roads.

The study comes as Britain’s train companies will today ramp up services to reflect the easing of some restrictions.

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But in a bid to enable social distancing, their capacity will be reduced to as little as 10 per cent of normal levels and passengers are being urged to avoid non-essential travel.

Passengers travelling by train are being asked to wear a face covering and keep a two metre distance from other people where possible.

Transport operators are being urged by the Government to rearrange, remove or limit seating “to try and ensure social distancing is observed”.

But it’s going to take a lot more than blocking off seats in close proximity and removing face-to-face seating to restore public confidence.

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Before the country went into lockdown getting a train in and out of Leeds was hardly a pleasant experience in the first place.

All too often you find yourself squashed into a carriage in the armpits of other commuters as part of the daily battle to get into the city centre.

It’s hard to comprehend how you could even start the process of social distancing when you are so reliant on other people around you adhering to the measures.

Last year the Yorkshire Evening Post launched its Unlock the Gridlock campaign to look at how we shine a spotlight on our city’s wide-ranging transport woes.

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But perhaps now is the time to look at how we recalibrate as a city to accommodate the new norm.

And as people’s travel habits continue to change maybe we need to go back to the drawing board to look at how we gear up towards a new normal.