London road space will be lost to cycle lanes and wider pavements as COVID-19 lockdown measures ease
Road space will be rapidly removed to temporarily widen pavements and place cycle lanes which could become permanent according to City Hall sources.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and TfL have unveiled their ‘London Streetspace’ programme which will rapidly transform London’s streets to accommodate what is predicted to be a possible ten-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking when lockdown restrictions are eased.
With London’s public transport capacity potentially running at a fifth of pre-crisis levels, millions of journeys a day will need to be made by other means.
If only a fraction of these journeys are made by cars, City Hall fears London risks grinding to a halt, air quality will worsen, and road danger will increase.
To prevent this happening, TfL will rapidly repurpose London’s streets to serve this unprecedented demand for walking and cycling in a major new strategic shift.
Early modelling by TfL has revealed there could be more than a 10-fold increase in kilometres cycled, and up to five times the amount of walking, compared to pre-COVID levels, if demand returns.
TfL, working with London’s boroughs will make changes - unparalleled in a city London’s size – to focus on three key areas:
The rapid construction of a strategic cycling network, using temporary materials, including new routes aimed at reducing crowding on Underground and train lines, and on busy bus corridors.
A complete transformation of local town centres to enable local journeys to be safely walked and cycled where possible. Wider footways on high streets will facilitate a local economic recovery, with people having space to queue for shops as well as enough space for others to safely walk past while socially distancing.
Reducing traffic on residential streets, creating low-traffic neighbourhoods right across London to enable more people to walk and cycle as part of their daily routine, as has happened during lockdown.
Euston Road is one of the first main thoroughfares to benefit from temporary cycle lanes. Park Lane could follow suit under plans being studied.
The temporary schemes will be reviewed by TfL – and could become permanent.
TfL has already begun making improvements to boost social distancing using temporary infrastructure. Pavements have already been doubled in size at Camden High Street and Stoke Newington High Street and widened at six further locations - with more to follow in the coming weeks.
TfL has also worked with Hackney Council to close Broadway Market to through traffic and, with Royal Parks, to close through traffic at weekends to The Mall/Constitution Hill and all Royal Parks (except Regents Park).
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The capacity of our public transport will be dramatically reduced post-coronavirus as a result of the huge challenges we face around social distancing. Everyone who can work from home must continue to do so for some time to come. The emergency measures included in our major strategic London Streetspace programme will help those who have to travel to work by fast-tracking the transformation of streets across our city. Many Londoners have rediscovered the joys of walking and cycling during lockdown and, by quickly and cheaply widening pavements, creating temporary cycle lanes and closing roads to through traffic we will enable millions more people to change the way they get around our city.
“I urge the Government and boroughs to work with us to enable Londoners to switch to cleaner, more sustainable forms of transport - and reduce the pressure on other parts of our transport network – once the lockdown is eased.”