Authorities in London have unveiled plans to create temporary cycle lanes and close roads to through traffic to support an ‘unprecedented’ rise in active travel once lockdown restrictions are eased.
Early modelling by TfL suggests there could be a 10-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking – as Londerners shun public transport due to social distancing concerns.
The ‘London Streetspace’ programme, announced by mayor of London Sadiq Khan and TfL on 6 May, sets out to rapidly repurpose London’s streets in order to accommodate this growth.
The programme focuses on three areas, including the fast-tracked construction of a strategic cycling network – with new routes aimed at reducing crowding on underground and train lines, and on busy bus corridors.
A ‘complete transformation’ of local town centres will also take place, with wider footways among the measures to enable local journeys to be safely walked and cycled where possible.
The final element of the plan is to reduce traffic on residential streets, creating low-traffic neighbourhoods.
Authorities say 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.
They warn 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.
Sadiq Khan says clean, green and sustainable travel will be at the heart of London’s recovery from coronavirus.
He 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.”