EU Commission launches COVID-19 transport exit plan


The European Commission has published a series of recommendations for transport policy as Member States transition out of lockdown. 

The main focus of the “communication” is to advise on ways of ensuring freight and passenger transport services can operate safely, with appropriate protections and social distancing requirements.

However European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) contacted to Commissioner Valean in early May pointing out important road safety considerations to be taken into account for the exit strategy.

In the letter, ETSC stressed that any flexibility or suspension to road safety related legislation be time limited, proportionate and subject to regular review. In the new publication, the EC states that: “further derogations from driving and rest time rules after the end of May 2020 should become more harmonised and limited to what is strictly necessary.”  The paper also underlines the need for international cooperation to ensure consistency in the approach.

Regarding urban mobility, the Commission says: “Many European cities are taking steps to make active mobility (e.g. walking and cycling) a safe and more attractive mobility option during the COVID-19 outbreak. Urban areas could consider temporary enlargements of pavements and increased space on the road for active mobility options to facilitate the needs of the population to move in a safe and efficient way, while reducing speed limits of vehicles in increased active mobility areas.”

The Commission also, “encourages and supports the development and implementation of new urban mobility solutions and measures to facilitate active, collective and shared mobility in a safe manner, and to ensure trust among citizens.”

ETSC reported recently that a number of European cities have been quick to introduce special measures such as pop-up cycle lanes and enlarged pedestrian zones in response to the crisis.

ETSC’s letter to the Commissioner called for: “a reprioritisation of transport infrastructure in dense, urban areas away from individual motorised transport towards public transport and sustainable, safer and healthier modes such as walking and cycling.”

ETSC welcomes the EC’s intended support for such measures in the exit strategy and hopes this will be further expanded with specific funding streams to support the introduction of new infrastructure for both cyclists and pedestrians in the forthcoming recovery package under the EU’s Green New Deal package.