Major streets in central London will be car-free ‘for the foreseeable future’ as coronavirus lockdown restrictions ease.
With commuters urged by the government to not use public transport unless absolutely necessary, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) have pedestrianised London Bridge & Shoreditch, Euston & Waterloo and Old Street & Holborn to enable safe social distancing and to maintain the city’s good air quality since the lockdown began at the end of March.
The mayor has urged Londoners to spend leisure time in their local area to avoid unnecessary journeys. He also says Londoners who can only get to work on rail must now walk or cycle from rail stations rather than using the tube or bus.
Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge may be restricted to people walking, cycling and buses only, with pavements widened to enable people to safely travel between busy railway stations and their workplaces. TfL is looking into providing Zero Emission Capable taxis with access to both these bridges, and other areas where traffic is restricted.
Last month, King’s College London scientists reported levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) have more than halved in some parts of central London during the coronavirus lockdown.
A 40-page document, which is available to read here, analyses various air pollutants monitored by the university’s London Air Quality Network.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: ‘Covid-19 poses the biggest challenge to London’s public transport network in TfL’s history. It will take a monumental effort from all Londoners to maintain safe social distancing on public transport as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased.
‘That means we have to keep the number of people using public transport as low as possible. And we can’t see journeys formerly taken on public transport replaced with car usage because our roads would immediately become unusably blocked and toxic air pollution would soar.
‘I ask that Londoners do not use public transport unless it is absolutely unavoidable – it must be a last resort. If you can work from home you should continue to do so. We should all spend more of our leisure time in our local areas too.’
‘We will need many more Londoners to walk and cycle to make this work. That’s why these plans will transform parts of central London to create one of the largest car-free areas in any capital city in the world’