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City of London to widen pavements and ban cars on its narrow streets

The plans will help make London’s streets more suitable for social distancing

Alexandra Sims

From the usually traffic-clogged Bank Junction to the winding thoroughfares around St Paul’s, the streets in the Square Mile are busy, charming and brimming with historical secrets. One thing they’re not good for, however, is social distancing. As the nationwide lockdown eases and people think about heading back to work, plans have been made to make sure people can safely get around the city while remaining two metres apart from each other.  

Many of the Square Mile’s ancient streets are too narrow to maintain safe social distancing, so the City of London has planned to ban cars and widen pavements on some of its busiest roads. Plans agreed on yesterday (Thursday May 14) by London’s Planning and Transportation Committee, show the City of London will close off its busiest roads to cars at certain times, will make more space for walking, queuing and cycling, and will switch some roads to one-way systems. 

Streets earmarked for the changes include some of the City’s most congested. Cannon Street will become one-way with more space for walking and contra-flow cycling, while Coleman Street, Lombard Street and St Mary’s Axe will ban cars between 7am and 7pm and give pedestrians greater priority. Old Broad Street will ban all vehicle access. 

The changes follow the Mayor of London’s plans to turn parts of central London into one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world. As part of the mayor’s London Streetspace programme, there are plans to limit streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo, and Old Street and Holborn to buses, pedestrians and cyclists.

Many London streets have already been given temporary cycle lanes and had pavements widened, including Euston Road and Park Lane, in order to ‘accommodate a possible ten-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking when lockdown restrictions are eased’. Good news for anyone who’s ever wished our city was more pedestrian-friendly. 

Thinking of getting a bike? Pick one up from these London bike shops open during lockdown.

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