Lambeth’s walking and cycling response to coronavirus

Lambeth Council has published plans recognising the role space for walking and cycling play in tackling coronavirus (COVID-19) and the problems caused by it.

Key elements

  • This week – Use temporary barriers to create additional space for pedestrians at key locations (where no traffic order required). Plus filtering Cornwall Road at Waterloo.
  • During May – ‘point closures on healthy routes linking areas of employment and town centres’‘ Bring forward selected Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on a trial basis’ 
  • Beyond May – further Low Traffic Neighbourhoods trials including in the Brixton Liveable Neighbourhood area.

The plans are still a bit fluid and subject to change while feasibility tests are run on some aspects but show serious intent to widen pavements to enable social distancing and put in place safer cycling routes to enable people to travel to work and to the shops without public transport.

The ambition:

the natural desire in many policy areas may be to seek a return to the status quo, pre-Covid- 19, in relation to transport and environmental objectives this is not necessarily the case. The Transport Strategy seeks to radically change the status quo and is a key element of the Council’s climate change response. Therefore, when planning our response to the current situation a key consideration should be avoiding a return to pre-existing motor traffic levels. This will require traffic restraint, together with measures to further promote and enable sustainable forms of travel

We welcome the council’s plans and congratulate them on committing to act quickly. We recognise that this means that some aspects will may not be feasible but we expect solutions to be found to many problems and are happy to help find those solutions.

Why are they doing this? The council’s plans say:

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in profound changes to travel patterns and how people are using streets in Lambeth and beyond. This is likely to continue even after the current emergency period has passed. There is an immediate need to enable physical distancing in order to limit contagion and prevent a second surge, and this cannot always be safely accommodated within existing transport networks and infrastructure.

At the same time, essential trips must also be enabled in a safe and sustainable manner and there is an increasing amount of evidence that speeding, which was already a significant road danger issue, is worsening during lock down. Transport for London has reported that some areas have seen speeds increase by more than 50% and such increases have been observed in Lambeth.

Lambeth Council’s Transport Strategy COVID-19 Emergency Response

We will continue to monitor progress and delivery and hope to have photographs of improvements in place very soon.