Transport Focus launches new road user community
23 October 2020
“During the pandemic the only mode of transport I used was the car. I didn’t feel comfortable using any other mode… I felt quite anxious not being able to socially distance from people and I can’t control how close a person sits next to me on the train.” Female, South East, 39
Transport Focus is bringing together the views of those using motorways and major ‘A’ roads in England, as the country grapples with coronavirus.
Its new ‘road user community’ started by exploring how travel patterns had changed due to the pandemic.
The first report reveals that most road users have noticed a difference in the level of traffic, falling dramatically during the national lockdown but since recovering to what feels like the previous level. Some suggested that the increase in traffic was down to anxiety about returning to public transport because of coronavirus.
Over the coming months the community will be set different tasks to find out about the impact of Covid-19 on road users and other topical subjects affecting them.
The first tasks asked how they have been coping with the past seven months of Covid-19 restrictions and the pandemic in general, and how their travel patterns have changed. We also wanted to understand how they have been travelling and what has made their journeys better or worse during the pandemic.
“I found traffic significantly reduced during lockdown but in the last few weeks I’ve noticed it going up. I know my friends are using their cars more as they’re anxious of rule breakers on public transport.” Male, South East, 36
The community spoke about how journeys were more enjoyable in spring because there was so much less traffic. The more recent increases in traffic levels they generally accepted as inevitable, with little frustration reported.
Car use has also changed, with those who previously used them typically for leisure purposes now increasing usage as their sole mode of transport aside from walking or cycling.
Travel habits have altered significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic as normal routines adapt to new ways of working (working from home or online teaching) with some reporting a major detrimental impact on their lives, including the complete loss of work altogether.
Travelling for leisure has also significantly changed. Some told us that they used taxis more often when their journey took them to London, to allay their fears of using public transport while also wanting to avoid congested roads.