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London to transform streets to prepare for increase in cycling and walking

Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London said the UK capital needs to prepare for a possible 10-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking when lockdown restrictions are eased.

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London has made improvements to boost social distancing using temporary infrastructure
London has made improvements to boost social distancing using temporary infrastructure

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Transport for London (TfL), have unveiled plans to repurpose and transform London’s streets to accommodate a possible 10-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 Covid-19 pre-crisis levels, millions of journeys a day will need to be made by other means. If people switch only a fraction of these journeys to cars, London risks grinding to a halt, air quality will worsen, and road danger will increase. The London Streetspace initiative aims to prevent this happening.

 

Huge challenges

 

Khan said the capacity of the capital’s public transport will be dramatically reduced post-coronavirus as a result of the huge challenges faced 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.”

 

He continued: “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.”

Working with London’s boroughs TfL will make changes, focusing on three key areas:

  • The rapid construction of a strategic cycling network, using temporary materials, including new routes aimed at reducing crowding on London 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 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.”

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.

 

Healthier streets

 

The new measures will build on TfL’s work, which has seen roads across London transformed under the Healthy Streets programme. The amount of protected space for cycling in London has tripled over the past four years, while major projects across the capital such as the transformation of Highbury Corner have increased in the amount of space available for people on foot. There are currently 160km of signed Cycleways across London.

 

“As people are choosing to walk and cycle, both for their essential journeys and for exercise during the lockdown it is vital that they have the space to do so safely and are able to continue socially distancing,” said Gareth Powell, managing director of surface transport at TfL.

 

“The London Streetspace programme – providing more space for walking and cycling – will support that. It will also play a crucial role as London approaches the challenge of maintaining social distancing as restrictions on movement are relaxed.”

 

Specific measures of London Streetspace will be announced in the coming weeks.

 

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