As I write, it is just gone 6pm in London – the height of the evening rush hour. Except there is no evening rush hour any more because coronairus has brought the economy to a standstill, the city is in lockdown and nobody can go to work.
And, thanks to the wonders and/or sinister surveillance power of modern technology, it’s possible to see what a major world city on lockdown actually looks like. Transport for London operates over 900 CCTV cameras throughout the city and hosts their feeds online, and a web developer called Jason Brooks has collected them all and placed them on a map, called TfLJamCams.net. And so you can, if you’re so minded, check out how the traffic on the Euston Road is this evening. In fact, since we’re all here, we can check it out right now:
The Euston Road, remember, is an awful six-lane highway skirting the north of the West End. It’s sometimes been described as a sort of “urban motorway”, but that’s a misleading tag because “motorway” implies “speed” and it’s almost impossible to move down the Euston Road at speed, it’s constantly absolutely rammed with traffic, every vehicle running its engine and poisoning passers by.
And tonight it looks like that.
And that’s one of the busier roads in London at the moment. Take a look at Parliament Square:
Or Farringdon Road:
Southwark Bridge is always a bit quiet, to be fair, but nonetheless:
Over in the East End, Commercial Road is surprisingly busy:
But on the far side of town, by Paddington Green, the Westway looks like this:
So does the northern end of Park Lane:
The southern end too, come to that:
Here’s Trafalgar Square:
And Shaftesbury Avenue:
Look at Elephant and Castle!
And what the hell, here's the Albert Embankment:
There’s still some traffic by the Old Street roundabout, but – and trust me, as someone who once made the mistake of cycling through there – that is really not a lot for this time of day.
Two conclusions from all this. One is that London looks much, much nicer without traffic and that we should be trying to find ways of getting more vehicles off the road even after this mess is done with.
The other is that this would be a really good time to re-enact the opening sequence of 28 Days Later if only you weren’t stuck indoors, but unfortunately you are. Sorry.