Pedestrians and cyclists may get extra space on the streets during lockdown - but will it last?

Friday, 17th April 2020, 4:39 pm
Updated Friday, 17th April 2020, 4:39 pm

Following the lead of other European countries, Transport for London (Tfl) is considering temporarily giving extra space to pedestrians and cyclists.

Why are pedestrians and cyclists being given more space?

With traffic levels down as a result of the coronavirus crisis, space on the capital's busiest roads could soon be taken from motorists to allow more space for pedestrians and cyclists to effectively socially distance while out exercising or performing key duties.

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Currently, those out exercising, shopping or doing other key work by bike or on foot are finding themselves forced onto roads in order to leave at least a two metre distance between themselves and others.

Research has also shown that air pollution can harm the survival chances of people with coronavirus, and the pedestrianisation of streets could help to alleviate the problem.

How will it work?

To tackle the problem, Tfl is looking at the so-called "red routes" - or busy routes - that it controls to see where pavements might be enlarged.

They are also looking at traffic light timings, adjusting them to make it easier and faster for cyclists and pedestrians to get across roads.

London’s walking and cycling commissioner, Will Norman, told the Guardian, “We are looking at the busiest parts of our road network to see where we can give people walking more space.

"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.”

Will the same happen in other UK cities?

If the plans go ahead in London and prove effective, it's likely other large cities across the UK will consider implementing similar measures, with some already getting started.

Residents of Manchester's Northern Quarter have segregated at least one street, using cones to allow pedestrians and cyclists adequate space. Further south in Brighton, the city's environment, transport and sustainability committee has commissioned studies to see how feasible it might be to reallocate space from motorists to cyclists and pedestrians.

Councillors have warned, however, that the measures might not prove practical or legal.

How long will the measures be in place?

As with the UK lockdown, it is unclear how long these measures would be in place if implemented. As traffic levels increase once lockdown restrictions are eased, it may be impractical to keep them in place.

There are, however, several campaign groups who have long called for increased space for pedestrians and cyclists. These groups may use any improvements as a result of these measures to bolster their cause.