New bicycle lanes, wider sidewalks and low-traffic areas on residential streets will be part of the emergency measures to move London forward when the government eases the lock.
Sadiq Khan announced today (May 6) preliminary plans to keep commuters safe – but warned that many will have to continue working from home.
Public transport capacity will be “drastically reduced” as Londoners will have to continue to distance themselves socially to avoid a second wave of viruses, he said.
In connection with the closure of Covid-19, bus use in the capital dropped 85%, while underground travel declined by 95%.
But when Londoners return to work, the capacity of the metro will be only 15% of normal levels and the capacity of buses as low as 12% if we want to maintain social distance.
And more cars on the road would see the city deadlocked, while accidents and air pollution could explode, TfL warned today.
The transport network estimates that the bicycle could increase tenfold, with five times more people walking, when the locking restrictions start to lift.
Temporary cycle lanes along the main metro and bus routes will now be in place, with traffic lanes and on-street parking co-opted to make room for bikes.
There will be a new bike path on Euston Road and plans for another at Park Lane, near Hyde Park.
Cycle paths under construction between Kensington Olympia and Brentford, and Tower Hill and Greenwich will also be accelerated.
And light traffic areas will be introduced in residential areas to keep the streets clear for cyclists and pedestrians – the first being planned along the bike path in Hounslow.
Sidewalks will be widened in downtown areas so people can line up for stores – the Camden and Stoke Newington High Street sidewalks have already been doubled.
Some of these measures could become permanent if they prove to be effective, said TfL.
But members of the London Assembly warned today that the plans would not work for residents of London.
Keith Prince, the Conservative Chief of Transportation, who represents Redbridge and Havering in the assembly, said he was “completely crazy to think that walking and cycling could replace millions of trips by bus and subway.
“It is simply impossible for many Londoners who live in the outer boroughs to travel by bicycle or commute to work,” he said. “If the mayor wants them to avoid using cars, he has to make a plan for London’s public transport to move safely now. “
Prince said the mayor has had weeks to prepare for the end of the foreclosure – and should follow the example of other European cities, and give transport workers face masks to keep them safe.
At least 34 transport workers – including 28 buses – have died in London, figures confirmed last week.
“If the mayor has not prepared TfL to safely transport thousands of additional commuters, it is jeopardizing people’s health and the economic recovery of our city and putting jobs at risk,” said Prince.
Green Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said the mayor’s plans are “absolutely what we need” but have been “slow to come.”
“What has been included so far is very focused on central London,” she said. “We have to support all of London, not just the inner neighborhoods.
“Everyone realizes that physical remoteness and living with the virus are here to stay. We will all live more local lives. “
But increased use of the car would increase air pollution – something that should be avoided as London adapts to the “constant threat of a respiratory pandemic,” she warned.
Caroline Pidgeon, a member of the Liberal Democrat Assembly, said widening the sidewalks and introducing new cycle paths will play a “key role” in London transport for the coming months.
But these measures are “only part of the solution,” she warned. To ensure that commuters do not start driving, the mayor should reintroduce the tariff for the ultra-low emission zone, with an exemption for key workers.
Fees for driving polluting vehicles in central London were temporarily waived during the pandemic.
TfL will have to come up with “bold proposals” to avoid a peak travel peak, and employers will have to “completely transform” their hours and agree to work from home, said Pidgeon.
The government has ordered everyone to stay at home since March 23, unless it is absolutely necessary to combat the spread of the coronavirus. You can find the latest tips here. Public Health England virus advice available here.