In a press release today (15th May 2020), London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and TFL (Transport for London) have announced plans to turn many roads in the centre of the capital into car-free zones. Banning so many cars from London will transform it into one of the biggest car-free areas on the planet. As the lockdown rules are being relaxed, the stated aim is to increase the number of people who ride or cycle to work and to also assist those who use public transport to maintain “social distancing” rules.
More walking and cycling in London
The press release says a “monumental effort” will be required by Londoners, reiterating the need to avoid using public transport unless it’s absolutely necessary. In essence, this means that Londoners who currently travel to work by train will now have to walk or cycle from railway stations instead of completing the journey by bus or tube.
London streets and bridges
It appears to be something of a mixed bag and will, of course, affect many transport companies that frequently operate in Central London as some London streets will be turned into walking or cycling zones only, while other streets will only see buses on them. According to City Hall, the streets between Euston and Waterloo, London Bridge and Shoreditch, and Old Street and Holborn will probably be limited to pedestrians, cyclists and buses in order to help people stay safer. In addition, two of London’s main commuter bridges, Waterloo and London Bridge may be restricted to pedestrians, cyclists and buses. In order to cope with the anticipated rise in foot traffic, the pavements will be widened too.
Streetspace for London
With the new scheme being dubbed Streetspace for London, the process has already gotten underway. Transport for London have already added approximately 5,000 square metres of additional footpath space throughout parts of London in the last week alone. Work is also already being carried out to add a temporary cycle lane running down Park Lane, with the speed limit also being reduced to 20mph.
Regarding the new rules, Sadiq Khan is quoted as saying:
“…we have to keep the number of people using public transport as low as possible. And we can’t see journeys formerly taken on public transport replaced with car usage because our roads would immediately become unusably blocked and toxic air pollution would soar. I ask that Londoners do not use public transport unless it is absolutely unavoidable – it must be a last resort.”