“No excuse” – councillor slams motorists who drove on pavement to get round road closure as emergency infrastructure ignored in London and beyond

Shocking video from Lewisham shows motorists driving onto pavement to get round planters blocking road; council to install bollards tomorrow

Drivers are continuing to ignore pop-up bike lanes as well as road closures introduced as emergency measures to encourage active travel and protect vulnerable road users – with footage emerging today of motorists in Lewisham driving onto the pavement to get round planters deployed to close a road to through traffic. The council has swiftly responded by saying it will replace the planters with bollards. 

The footage was posted to Twitter by Tom Edwards of BBC London News by a local resident who had seen his report on another Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) elsewhere in South London, this one in Brixton.

This evening, Lewisham Councillor Sophie McGeever, the portfolio holder for transport and the environment, said there was “no excuse” for the drivers' behaviour and that bollards, as well as additional signage, would be installed tomorrow.

A number of councils across London and elsewhere have been introducing LTNs as a short-term measure during the COVID-19 crisis, although it is possible that some will become permanent.

Yet, as the video from Lewisham shows, many motorists are simply ignoring them where they can, simply by going round them.

As Simon Munk, infrastructure campaigner at the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), pointed out on Twitter, a guide to implementing LTNs drawn up last year by LCC and Living Streets recommends that planters, or other means of creating modal filters, be spaced 1.5 metres apart including from buildings either side of the road to prevent drivers trying to get round them.

Close to the river Thames in Chiswick, some motorists went even further by moving small planters that blocked the road leading under a railway bridge to a sports centre. Hounslow Council’s response? It put an even bigger planter in place, complete with tree (see main picture above).

It's not just modal filters that are being ignored by motorists. As we reported last week, one Liverpool cyclist described a temporary cycle lane in Toxteth as a “pop-up car park” after discovering dozens of vehicles parked half in the bike lane, half on the pavement.

>> Council pledges to act on drivers turning temporary cycle lane into “pop-up car park”

And earlier this month, video was posted to Twitter of cars parked on a London cycleway in Pimlico despite Transport for London having just added wands to provide a degree of separation that had previously been missing.

Pedestrian infrastructure isn’t safe either – Hounslow Council used water barriers to widen the pavement on Turnham Green Terrace to allow social distancing, with some motorists now parking in that very space.

Has temporary infrastructure been put in place where you live, and what has the reaction from motorists been? Are they respecting it or ignoring it?

Let us know in the comments below.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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