Cycling in London could increase tenfold with pavements widened to accommodate physical distancing and queueing outside shops post-lockdown.
Transport for London and city mayor Sadiq Khan unveiled their joint ‘London Streetspace’ programme to rapidly transform London’s streets and accommodate 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 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.
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.
Clean, green and sustainable travel is to be at the heart of London’s recovery with landmark locations among the first to benefit from temporary bike routes and more space for walking to reduce pressure on Tube and buses.
Working with London’s boroughs, TfL will 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 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).
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “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.”
Dr Ashok Sinha, CEO of the London Cycling Campaign, said: “Large numbers of Londoners have already taken to cycling for essential travel and exercise during lockdown; the demand is there, and the Mayor’s new Streetspace plan can and should be the start of a permanent transition to a greener, healthier and more resilient city.”