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TfL to reclaim streets for cyclists and walkers during coronavirus lockdown

Joe Robinson
15 Apr 2020

Motor traffic sees a significant drop during lockdown as councils look to give more space to cyclists

London is looking into the possibility of reclaiming road space from cars to give to cyclists and walkers during the coronavirus lockdown.

Transport for London is considering restricting some forms of motor traffic from its 'red routes' across the capital - major roads directly controlled by TfL - in order to temporarily widen pavements and free up space for cyclists.

The aim being that cyclists and walkers will be able to remain active while also maintaining their safety and help to adhere to social distancing measures.

In some places, traffic light sequences will also be altered to make it quicker for cyclists and pedestrians to cross major junctions. However critical road traffic, such as emergency service vehicles, will continue to take precedent.

TfL is also considering ways of controlling congestion on smaller, residential streets not directly in its control. These measures come as air pollution in the capital dropped by almost a third due to the ongoing lockdown. 

Across the country, particularly in London, road traffic has dropped significantly and across the Easter weekend, the AA claimed only 20% of usual traffic was on the roads.

In some places, this has seen a massive surge in pedestrians and cyclists. With the increased traffic on pavements, it has become difficult to follow the two metre distancing rule currently in place.

TfL's new measures will hope to address this, although some are calling for more action, in particular to adopt measures like those in New Zealand and Germany where entire roads have been temporarily switched to cycle and running lanes.

Once again London and the wider UK are playing catch up thanks to authorities allowing motor vehicles to continue dominating public space, even during a pandemic.

However, some local councils such as Brighton and Hackney have begun restricting non-essential motor traffic to some of their roads while a residential street in Manchester has already partially blocked off a lane with cones to give more space to cyclists and walkers.

Cycling and walking commissioner for London, Will Norman, addressed the efforts elsewhere and said that the capital would be looking to implement similar measures.

'We are looking at the busiest parts of our road network to see where we can give people walking more space,' said Norman

'TfL and City Hall will work with London boroughs who are looking to reduce traffic on residential streets as long as this does not hinder the emergency services or other essential journeys.'