Three things happened this weekend, each marking another step on the road towards London’s transformation into a cyclists’ paradise*.
Firstly, on Friday mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London announced plans to restrict large chunks of central London to private cars. The main streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Old Street and Holborn, and Euston and Waterloo will each be restricted to buses, pedestrians and cyclists (plus emergency services and the disabled). The transport authority is looking at introducing similar restrictions on Waterloo and London Bridges, too. The Guardian has a map of the proposed changes.
This, a press release claims, will “transform parts of central London into one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world”. That feels to me like over-stating things a little, but it’s a big deal nonetheless. The changes should take about six weeks to implement.
Secondly, a group of NHS staff have launched a campaign group to pressure local authorities to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The group – “Key Workers Need Streetspace” – offers template letters, through which hospital bosses can pressure councils inot making streets safer and healthier.
Such campaign groups have historically often come under fire from the pro-car lobby, not least London’s black cab drivers. Given the current public support for medical staff, it will be interesting to see how said lobby response to this one.
Lastly, TfL has belatedly released a map of its new cycling routes. It is not frankly the greatest map I have ever seen – it’s so busy it’s quite difficult to read, and it’s the electronic equivalent of attacking a streetmap with a highlighter pen. Nonetheless, it gives some sense of the transport authority’s evolving ambition.
Here’s the central London section. Existing routes are in green, new ones in purple:
Incidentally, an ICM poll has found that 17% of British commuters are more likely to cycle to work following the Covid-19 pandemic. The poll, it seems worth noting, was commissioned by a Scottish bike manufacturer, Shand Cycles.
*Terms and conditions apply.