More pop-up cycle lanes and timed road closures could be rushed through in Brighton and Hove before shops and schools are due to open in two weeks’ time.
Councillors from all three parties agreed the need for speedy progress towards a “healthy” recovery at the first meeting of the city council’s Policy and Resources Recovery Committee.
Labour, Conservatives and the Greens agreed to prioritise a cycling and walking programme, including closing streets around schools at pick up and drop off times before they reopen on June 15.
The council has already closed Madeira Drive to motorised traffic during the day and installed a pop-up cycle lane along a stretch of the Old Shoreham Road in response to the pandemic.
During the virtual meeting on Friday 29 May, Green group convenor councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said there is a “small window” to change people’s habits, with the AA reporting callouts now back up to 80 per cent of the pre-lockdown level.
Councillor Mac Cafferty said: “We cannot come out of the Covid crisis and tumble back into the climate crisis.
“Residents who live along the seafront are telling me daily they would prefer the world to be quieter as it was during lockdown.
“We now need to just get on with achieving a city that will help us to recover well.
“We have pandemic that attacks our lungs. We have to do something about this through the recovery.
“We are a city with a centre with illegal levels of the toxic gas nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter which causes harm and death to people in the city.
“We have a disproportionate amount of people dying because of the problems caused by traffic.”
Councillor Mac Cafferty said Brighton and Hove is running behind places like Newcastle and London, which are moving “swiftly” to introduce more safe open spaces for pedestrians and cyclists.
Labour administration leader councillor Nancy Platts and Conservative finance spokesman councillor Joe Miller, put their names to the proposals.
Councillor Miller said as a proud owner of an electric scooter he said the city is “particularly nice” in its current form.
He said people are enjoying the quieter city where a balance is needed between the lockdown and life before.
Councillor Miller said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to move people to cycle and walking, with the health and wellbeing benefits, the air pollution benefits and the climate change benefits that go with that.
“As part of the public space provision, we should consider giving space to businesses, with restaurants having more outside tables because capacity is reduced inside.
“We should consider using pavements and roads in the city centre, closing streets in The Lanes.”
Executive director for economy, environment and culture, Nick Hibberd said widening footpaths outside shops and by transport hubs is essential before more shops reopen on Monday, 15 June.
Mr Hibberd said: “The immediate priority for the council is to do our best to restart lives and the economy safely.
“The council wants to be able to do this properly to protect our residents.
“The recovery programme aims to do that to make sure when shops reopen they stay open and flourish.”
A Covid-19 walking and cycling plan is due to go before the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee on Tuesday, 23 June, with details published about a week before.