Covid-19: Car-free streets, cycle paths new London reality
One of the worst affected areas in the UK, London presents an unreal picture, with usually buzzing streets and areas stilled into silence by the lockdown imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.Updated: May 15, 2020, 18:39 IST
London mayor Sadiq Khan on Friday announced plans to transform parts of central London into one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world, discouraging use of public transport and promoting cycling and walking.
One of the worst affected areas in the UK, London presents an unreal picture, with usually buzzing streets and areas stilled into silence by the lockdown imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. Some curbs have been eased, but officials are keen that new realities stay.
Public transport must only be used when absolutely necessary: as a last resort, the mayor’s office said, amidst reports of crowding on the Underground and buses after Prime Minnister Boris Johnson announced some relaxations in the restrictions last Sunday.
“Many more Londoners must now walk or cycle. Everyone who can work from home must continue doing so for the foreseeable future. We must all spend more of our leisure time in our local areas to avoid unnecessary journeys. Londoners who can only get to work on rail must now walk or cycle from rail stations rather than using the tube or bus”, the office said.
Some streets are to be converted to walking and cycling only, with others restricted to all traffic apart from buses. Streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo and Old Street and Holborn may be limited to buses, pedestrians and cyclists.
Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge may be restricted to people walking, cycling and buses only, with pavements widened to enable people to safely travel between busy railway stations and their workplaces.
Khan said: “I ask that Londoners do not use public transport unless it is absolutely unavoidable – it must be a last resort. If you can work from home you should continue to do so. We should all spend more of our leisure time in our local areas too.”
“We will need many more Londoners to walk and cycle to make this work. That’s why these plans will transform parts of central London to create one of the largest car-free areas in any capital city in the world”.
Transport officials have added an initial 1,000 extra cycle parking spaces across London, focused around busy areas like high streets and transport hubs. A scheme that allows people to use and leave cycles across central London is available for health workers free.