In April Lambeth was the first council in the UK to bring forward a transport plan in response to COVID-19. This video from the Guardian is a good summary of why it was needed:
This wasn’t done in isolation – there was a specific edict from central Government that local authorities most now “make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.”
The document lays out options for councils and also says they must: “do what is necessary to ensure transport networks support recovery from the COVID-19 emergency and provide a lasting legacy of greener, safer transport… Authorities should monitor and evaluate any temporary measures they install, with a view to making them permanent, and embedding a long-term shift to active travel as we move from restart to recovery.”
Luckily Lambeth was pretty well prepared for this – the Transport Strategy and Implementation Plans that had already been consulted on and approved in 2019 set out plans to prioritise walking and cycling above motor traffic. Under the emergency plan the implementation timetable has been massively accelerated.
Unfortunately, the COVID crisis destroyed TfL’s budgets and reserves (with no fare income at all during lockdown and c10% capacity now meaning fare income is reduced by at least 90%). All previously funded schemes were halted with no further funding to be allocated.
There is now an emergency fund which Lambeth have been bidding for and will use to build emergency versions of Transport Plan schemes. That means there using much cheaper materials – bollards, bolt down rubber kerbs, planters – rather than expensively digging up the roads. For the foreseeable future schemes aren’t going to look like Baylis Road.
But maybe thats no bad thing. In the short term we should get a network of safe cycling routes quickly so that far more trips can be made on foot or bike by more people. The schemes are being built under emergency traffic orders – to make them permanent there will need to be consultations but they’ll be done based on a proper trial that’s long enough for traffic to adapt and people to change the way they travel (unlike the debacle of Loughborough Junction a few years back where a trial was cut short before this could happen).
The consultations can be about how to improve the scheme and make it better rather than endless fear mongering from those trying to resist any change to the status quo.