A Bath transport campaigner is calling on council bosses to suspend parking, widen footpaths and introduce cycle lanes so people can still socially distance after the lockdown.
Walk Ride Bath chair Adam Reynolds said keeping two metres apart is easy now but when cars fill the roads again it will be next to impossible.
He is urging Bath and North East Somerset Council to press ahead with the low traffic neighbourhoods the Liberal Democrat administration promised to deliver.
In an open letter to leader Dine Romero and chief executive Will Godfrey, Mr Reynolds said: “Give the residents, especially our key workers, the space to practise social distancing while safely moving around the city by foot, cycle or mobility scooter.
“The cars will come, and with them, the inability to socially distance ourselves while walking around this beautiful city.
“This is a health crisis far beyond air pollution and demands immediate, decisive and strong leadership from the council to assure the safety of residents until this virus is no longer part of our lives.
“Our fume-filled, congested roads with their narrow pavements are uncomfortable to walk along at the best of times. Now they will become impossible to walk along while social distancing as many more switch to the car.”
Mr Reynolds said authorities across the country are introducing emergency filtering on rat runs, suspending parks, widening footpaths and introducing cycle lanes.
Similar ideas are being considered in Bristol.
Mr Reynolds asked B&NES Council’s leadership how they will keep Bath moving and said they have “weeks, not months, to find and implement a solution”.
This year the council has budgeted £200,000 to support projects that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists in residential areas.
In January it even brought in a councillor from a London borough to extol the virtues of low traffic neighbourhoods – essentially groups of residential streets, bordered by main roads, where access to through traffic is restricted so cyclists and pedestrians can “reclaim the streets”.
But that was before the coronavirus pandemic reached the UK. The crisis is forecast to leave B&NES Council £53million in deficit.
In a comment this week, Councillor Romero said: “At present the focus of our activity is in response to the Covid-19 emergency.
“We acknowledge that there may be a range of changes to our road network that could support social distancing as and when we move into the recovery phase.
“Any such changes would be considered when the usual decision-making process resumes, in the context of national guidance on relaxing the current lockdown arrangements and the council’s priorities moving forward.”
That decision-making process is likely to take time. All of the council’s public meetings have been cancelled until the planning committee meeting May 6, and only a limited number are set to take place next month.
Mr Reynolds said: “Other councils are not waiting for “national guidance” from a government that has failed singlehandedly to control the spread of this deadly virus.
“They are taking action because they can see their residents unable to simply walk to the shops, exercise, or go to work in the coming months. They want functioning towns and cities.”
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter