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More space to be given to cyclists and walkers on London’s major roads to aid social distancing during pandemic?

Similar proposals to reallocate road space also being considered in Brighton and other cities

Transport for London (TfL) is considering making more space available for cyclists and pedestrians on major roads it controls in the capital, with other cities including Brighton & Hove also planning similar measures to aid social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

With emergency legislation restricting people to leaving their homes only for essential journeys, traffic in London and other cities has plummeted, with normally busy roads often all-but-empty as the picture above, taken on the North Circular Road at Gunnersbury Park one weekday lunchtime last week, shows.

> UK road traffic falls to lowest levels in 65 years due to lockdown

According to the Guardian, besides assessing locations on London’s network of red routes where space could be taken away from motor vehicles and given to people on bike and foot, TfL is also examining whether the phasing of traffic lights could be changed to make it easier for them to cross main roads.

It will also work with individual boroughs regarding ways in which motor traffic can be restricted on other streets in the city, especially in residential areas.

Will Norman, London’s cycling and walking commissioner, said: “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.”

As we reported at the weekend, the London Borough of Hackney is planning to block some residential roads to motor vehicles using planters and bollards to ease pressure on parks and pavements and allow people to undertake essential tasks, including exercising, while maintaining social distance.

> East London council to block cars to protect cyclists and pedestrians from speeding drivers during pandemic

London Cycling Campaign has outlined on its website a series of measures it is urging to be adopted in the capital during the crisis.

Its proposals include implementing temporary cycle lanes on main roads, removing through traffic from residential streets, a city-wide 20mph speed limit and introducing temporary low traffic neighbourhoods.

Elsewhere in the country, residents of Manchester’s Northern Quarter have used bollards to create additional space for cyclists and pedestrians on some streets.

Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner, Chris Boardman, said: “Creating safe space for people to make essential journeys without a car or take exercise is essential if we are to be able to sustain isolation, so seeing streets cordoned off is really important.

“It’s particularly heartening to see these measures being implemented by the people who live there, telling us this is how they want their street to be.”

In Sussex, Brighton & Hove is also examining giving over additional road space to people travelling by bike or on foot, reports The Argus.

Councillor Ann Pissaridou, who chairs the city council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said that an article in the Guardian written by contributor Laura Laker about measures cities around the world are implementing to reallocate roadspace during the pandemic had prompted her to consider whether the south coast city should follow suit.

She said: “I think it’s an interesting idea that is worth further exploration, so I’ve asked council) officers to look at this to see whether any similar measures might be legally and practically possible in some areas of the city.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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