“London’s road to recovery cannot be clogged with cars,” tweeted London Mayor Sadiq Khan on May 15. He added that he was rolling out “plans to make central London one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world, increasing walking and cycling and improving our air quality.”

Detail for some of those plans were revealed on June 3: £6 million will pay for 136 schemes. London will create 19 “low traffic neighborhoods,” eight school streets where motorists will be prevented from entering at drop-off and pick-up times, and there will be 15 kilometers of new cycleways.

Fear of gridlock is behind London’s bold “Streetspace” plans to expand space for pedestrians and cyclists, and reduce it for motorists.

“With public transport capacity reduced dramatically when restrictions are eased, up to eight million journeys a day will need to be made by other means,” said London’s cycling and walking commissioner Will Norman on May 1

“If just a fraction switch to cars, London will grind to a halt, choking our economic recovery,” he added.

Erecting pop-up cycleways is one of the ways to quickly create safe space for cyclists.

According to a TfL statement issued on May 15, plans were been triggered to “quickly [build] a strategic cycling network, using temporary materials and including new routes, to help reduce crowding on the Tube and trains and on busy bus routes.”

Sidewalks on high streets will be widened to “give space for queues outside shops as people safely walk past while socially distancing.”

Roadspace will be taken from motorists by “creating low-traffic corridors right across London so more people can walk and cycle as part of their daily routine.”

The City of London Corporation—which administers the Square Mile, London’s financial district—could soon start to restrict private cars on Cannon Street, Cheapside and Poultry, Old Jewry and Coleman Street, Lombard Street, Leadenhall Street, Threadneedle Street and Old Broad Street. 

Furthermore, streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo, and Old Street and Holborn, could soon be limited to buses, pedestrians and cyclists.

“We can’t see journeys formerly taken on public transport replaced with car usage because our roads would immediately become unusably blocked,” stated Khan. The Mayor of London added that should that be allowed to happen “toxic air pollution would soar.”

Golden Age

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament that the near future “should be a new golden age for cycling.” He made his comments during Prime Minister’s question time on May 6.

Johnson was answering a question from former transport secretary Therese Villiers who asked whether the Prime Minister would be seeking assurances from the London Mayor that the London Underground tube service would soon be open to use for all who wanted to use it and not just key workers.

“A crucial part of our success now in getting transport to run safely will be running a bigger and more expansive tube service so that people can observe social distancing,” replied Johnson.

Unbidden, Johnson—who, before becoming prime minister regularly cycled in London—added that “there will be a huge amount of planning going to helping people to get to work other than by mass transit and this should be a new golden age for cycling.”





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