The global pandemic is making us rethink countless aspects of our everyday lives, including how we get around our cities in a new, socially distanced world. To help Londoners get out and about while remaining two metres apart at all times, the Mayor of London and TfL have announced plans to transform areas of central London into ‘one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world’.
With government advice asking people to avoid public transport and capacity on TfL routes running at a fifth of pre-crisis levels for the foreseeable future, millions of Londoners will be expected to find other ways of traversing their city. As lockdown eases, TfL is preparing for a ten-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking. To accommodate this, plans to restrict traffic and convert some city streets to pedestrian and cyclist use only are being drawn up.
As part of the Mayor’s London Streetspace programme, there are plans to limit traffic on some of London’s busiest thoroughfares, including allowing only walking, cycling and buses on streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo, Old Street and Holborn. Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge may also be made car-free allowing only walking, cycling and possibly zero-emissions taxis. You can see all the streets which are part of the proposed changes on TfL’s handy map (click here to expand the map).
It comes as the City of London announced plans to ban cars and widen pavements on some of its busiest streets, including the notorious Bank Junction. While temporary cycle lanes and pavement-widening have already been introduced across the capital, including on Park Lane and Euston Road. TfL estimates it’s added 5,000 square metres of extra space on footpaths across London and is now looking to make the changes permanent.
Alongside all this comes the significantly less popular move to re-introduce the Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone from today (Monday, May 18) followed by an increase of the daily Congestion Charge to £15 and extending its hours of operation from June 22. Sadiq Khan has said the move is part of the government’s TfL funding deal and will prevent roads from coming blocked as well as reducing pollution.
Welcome, or not, these plans give us a few hints at what London could look like after lockdown eases, and it seems our city’s future contains many fewer cars. If you haven‘t invested in a bike yet, now might be a good time to do so.
Thinking of getting a bike? Pick one up from these London bike shops open during lockdown.