Transport for London (TfL) will start work this week to transform one of central London’s major thoroughfares into a less intimidating place which prioritises walking and cycling. The new traffic restrictions between Shoreditch and London Bridge are a key part of the Mayor of London and TfL’s world-leading Streetspace plans, which will radically reduce levels of cars in central London in a bold step towards becoming one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world.
These traffic restrictions on Bishopsgate and Gracechurch Street in the City of London – streets that connect major cultural and financial centres – will be in operation on weekdays between 07:00 and 19:00. By creating more space for people to walk and cycle, it will ensure that those who return to work in central London can do so as safely as possible. In addition to removing most traffic – making it safer and nicer to cycle, and improving bus journey times – TfL is widening footways along this part of the A10 corridor to provide more space for people walking.
A number of banned turns, which will be in operation 24 hours a day, are also being introduced along the road. This is to reduce the level of motor traffic on the road around the clock, and reduce the risk of a car-based recovery. Access for emergency services and disabled people will be maintained and signage is being introduced on local roads to make the new restrictions clear, including no motor vehicle access between Middlesex Street to Liverpool Street, and Leadenhall Street to Fenchurch Street. The new zone is set to be operational by the start of August.
Work is also set to begin on a major 3.7km upgrade to an older cycle route, CS7, in south west London. Work in Balham and Tooting will add new sections of protected cycle lane to the existing route, which is one of London’s busiest, making it much safer and more attractive to people wanting to cycle in the area and to central London and beyond. The route follows a busy section of the Northern line and will help to create extra space on the Tube for people who cannot cycle.
TfL is working closely with local boroughs to rapidly create space for walking and cycling across the city. This includes building a strategic network for cycling in London, transforming town centres and reducing traffic on residential streets. Boroughs have been awarded £30m of funding to reallocate road space away from motor traffic and to make walking and cycling safer and easier. Work on a number of new cycle routes is underway in Camden and Waltham Forest, with routes set to link Chalk Farm to Kings Cross, and Blackhorse Road to Haringey. 38km of new and upgraded cycle lanes have been completed or are under construction so far.
Low traffic neighbourhoods continue to transform streets for communities across London by reducing the amount of motor traffic on local roads. New schemes have been introduced in Southwark, Lambeth and Islington with many more planned across London in the coming weeks. School streets have also been created in Hounslow, Wandsworth and Greenwich, which will make it easier for people to walk and cycle to school by banning motor traffic during drop-off and pick-up times.
The Mayor and TfL have also set out plans to adapt celebrations for Car Free Day in light of coronavirus, celebrating the many benefits of reduced traffic through a campaign to reinforce the positive changes that many Londoners have already made and encourage more people to walk and cycle.
TfL will work closely with boroughs and partners to ask people to share their walking and cycling stories online and will highlight the benefits that walking and cycling has for high streets, the environment and the health and wellbeing of Londoners. People will be able to pledge a personal commitment to use their cars less as part of London’s green recovery and the campaign will showcase the tens of thousands of extra square metres of space created across London as part of Streetspace that can help them achieve this.
As part of Car Free Day, TfL will be working with Open House, the world’s largest architecture festival, to showcase the wealth of unique external architecture in local areas through specially created walking routes and guided cycling tours.
TfL will also collaborate with London Living Streets on the launch of its Footways map, which illustrates a network of routes that connects London’s mainline railway stations, popular destinations and green spaces with the city’s most welcoming, appealing and accessible streets.
With London’s safe public transport capacity restricted while social distancing measures remain, millions of journeys a day will need to be made by other means. If people switch these journeys to cars, London risks grinding to a halt, air quality will worsen, and road danger will increase.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “Londoners have shown a record-breaking demand for cycling over the past few months and I’m delighted that our bold new measures build on that momentum and ensure we’re doing all we can to avoid a damaging car-based recovery.
“Enabling more people to walk and cycle is key to a green recovery for our city, and our world-leading Streetspace for London plans will make a huge immediate difference as staff return to work.”
Gareth Powell, TfL’s Managing Director for Surface Transport, said: “We’re determined that transport will be at the heart of London’s green, healthy and sustainable recovery from coronavirus. We’re running near normal levels of public transport services and are working hard to deliver extra space for walking and cycling right across the capital. The first walking and cycling priority zone on Bishopsgate will play a central role in enabling people who are returning to work to do so safely and without relying on cars.”
Alastair Moss, Chair of the Planning and Transportation Committee at the City of London Corporation, said: “The transformation of Bishopsgate into a pedestrian and cyclist priority area perfectly complements the City of London Corporation’s efforts on increasing the comfort and safety for all workers, residents and visitors on City streets.
“The City Corporation is already dedicated to a sustainable transport recovery plan that does not rely on the increased use of cars and taxis as that would lead to increased congestion, air pollution and road danger. Plans to maximise the space available for sustainable and socially distanced travel in the Square Mile are already underway, including the temporary closure or timed closure of streets, the reallocation of carriageway and introduction of additional cycle parking bays.
“It goes without saying that we want every person to get to their City destination safely and comfortably, therefore the Bishopsgate walking and cycling priority zone is absolutely welcomed.”
Simon Munk, Infrastructure Campaigner at the London Cycling Campaign, said: “This scheme – along with other bold moves by TfL and boroughs to reallocate street space to public transport, cycling and walking, and away from unsustainable levels of private motor traffic – is another vital step towards safer streets, cleaner air, a healthier London, and reducing our city’s carbon emissions.”
Construction recently started on a major new protected cycle lane along Euston Road, which will transform the key corridor for cycling between TfL’s new temporary cycle lane on Hampstead Road and Cycleway 6 on Midland Road/Judd Street. Construction of the new route, which will connect businesses and major rail terminals along the road by means of a safe, protected cycle lane, is using temporary materials, which are quick to install.
An additional 15,815m2 of space for walking has been created by widening pavements across London, to enable more people to social distance while travelling and visiting shops along major high streets in the capital. Work has now been completed at 36 locations, with more improvements planned in the coming months.
The number of cycle journeys made across London has skyrocketed in recent weeks, with particular increases at weekends as people make the most of quieter roads to try out cycling for leisure journeys. The weekend of 11-12 July saw a 117 per cent increase in cycling compared to the same weekend last year, with cycling across the week up by 3 per cent.