Infrastructure: will we see a golden age of cycling when lockdown eases?
Boris Johnson has promised a golden age of cycling when Covid-19 restrictions begin to ease. Infrastructure is being fast-tracked to create wider streets and pop-up cycle lanes to help the UK cope with transport challenges and social distancing.
Transport Secretary Grant Schapps has announced a £250m emergency fund, part of a planned £5bn investment in cycling and buses announced in February.
Doubling cycling and walking by 2025
Schapps has also spoken of the need for the UK to build a cleaner and greener country. And while the car will remain essential for many, the government is intent on building healthier communities and easing the short term pressure on the roads. With public transport capacity heavily restricted, it's vital that the roads should not become gridlocked and disrupt the passage of emergency vehicles.
The Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy is designed to double walking and cycling journeys by 2025 through the creation of better permanent infrastructure across England. This ambitious target will see the creation of e-scooter lanes and a move towards promoting greener forms of transport.
It's estimated that millions of journeys will need to be rethought in the Capital once the lockdown eases, with public transport capacity running at one-fifth of pre-pandemic levels.
TfL's London Streetspace programme has been designed as a rapid response and could be a major driver in Mayor Khan's ambitions to see 80% of all journeys in London undertaken on foot, by bike or public transport by 2041. The repurposing of London's streets should also provide jobs in civil engineering as the Streetspace Plan plays out.
Several major improvements are critical to the achievement of the plan with a number of measures already in place in central London. These have created jobs in civil engineering as the city seeks to recreate itself in a cleaner, greener image. Ongoing and future works include:
- The creation of major new cycling and walking routes along critical corridors. Temporary cycle lanes are already in place in Euston Road with Park Lane to follow. Upgrades are also planned to a number of existing routes including Pimlico to Putney
- Cycleway 4 and Cycleway 9 schemes to be accelerated with on-street parking and car lanes being repurposed to create more space for cyclists and pedestrians
- Pavement widening schemes to allow easier access to shops by pedestrians in more than 20 locations, including Earls Court
- Transforming local town centres to create routes that are easily accessible for bikes and pedestrians by reducing the speed and volume of traffic. Hounslow is in line to become one of the first low traffic neighbourhoods. TfL will actively encourage boroughs to reduce traffic on residential streets to make walking and cycling safer and more attractive.
A cleaner, safer city?
Londoners, like city dwellers across Europe, have rediscovered the joys of walking and cycling in urban spaces virtually free of cars. Measures such as widening pavements and creating pop up cycling infrastructure will enable millions more to achieve journeys that are healthier and greener than ever before.
TfL and central government are being called upon to take tough action to make London's streets social distancing compatible so commuters and leisure cyclists and pedestrians can enjoy their journeys safely.