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Creating space for people queueing in Barnes, LB Richmond (Twitter Charles Campion17 (@charliecampion))

"Social distancing" has drawn attention to how narrow many pavements are and what a small percentage of the space on our streets is devoted to the walking - supposedly at the top of the transport mode hierarchy. London Living Streets, which brings together the various borough-level Living Streets branches in the capital, has published an important discussion paper about how streets should be re-evaluated in the face of Covid. As the authors point out, the ideas reflected the situation in mid-April, and the situation will undoubtedly evolve

At national level Living Streets is suggesting that we contact councillors with suggestions for reallocating space for people on foot where social distancing is proving difficult. As well as emailing councillors using the form provided by Living Streets, it would also be good to share ideas on the PGC forums - just add comments at the end of this article.

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Let's make more space for social distancing

The demands of social distancing have seen cities around the world respond with ingenuity, reorganising public space and reallocating road space to make it safer for people to walk or cycle.

Now a temporary easing of rules by the Department for Transport means local authorities in England can do the same. We believe it's an opportunity we must seize.

Take a minute to email your council and ask them to reallocate road space and make it safer to walk and cycle during the Covid-19 lockdown.

At this time, it's vital that we can all walk and cycle safely - be it keyworkers getting to their jobs or people taking daily exercise and going to the shops.

As we all know, this means keeping at least two metres away from others. This isn't easy on some narrow pavements, and walking in the road is no better as vehicles speed up along streets that are quieter than normal.

Here's where you come in

Widening pavements, filtering streets, lowering speed limits, even pedestrianisation are options councils are already looking into.

Do you know of streets near you that need space reallocated to those on foot?

Using our simple online form, write to your local councillor and ask them to do what they can to put people first on local streets. You can even tell them which areas they need to prioritise and why.

Let's put pedestrians at the top of the transport hierarchy, starting now.

Take care, stay healthy and stay happy,

Matthew Cunningham
Digital Engagement Coordinator
Living Streets

PS Please remember: Walk locally. Choose open spaces. Wash your hands when you get home. And above all, remain two metres apart from others.


Living Streets

Rethinking our streets: urgent policy responses to Covid-19

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Neil Littman's Avatar
Neil Littman posted a reply #5323 23 Apr 2020 09:35
Don't really agree with any of this. Have been driving every day around the borough (including all of N21 and N13) delivering prescriptions to vulnerable and self-isolating residents and don't need any more obstructions to prevent me doing the job. The quantity I deliver and distances cannot be managed by cycling and there is a security and timing aspect. There is a team of about five just from my chemist alone. Most of the speeding I have seen has been on main roads which simply need cameras (Bourne Hill for example). The A10 scheme has already been implemented north of Southbury Road. There are also a lot more ambulances driving around the area who need to get where they are going unimpeded. Traffic levels are still much lower than before despite a slight rise after the bank holiday and should remain that way for some time.
Simon Broughton's Avatar
Simon Broughton posted a reply #5324 23 Apr 2020 19:16
I could not agree more. I am an Operating Department Practitioner working at Homerton Hospital and the appalling decisions taken by TFL has made travel by public transport the most dangerous proposition imaginable with over crowded trains. Ironically I am now driving to work for my own safety. Hindering traffic even more so that cyclists and pedestrians can be even more selfish really does not solve any problems. Yes we need alternative means of reliable transport but we do not have that.

The only long term answer which will not leave a pollution nightmare for future generations is hydrogen vehicles but there seems very little support for this. Electrical vehicles, which seem to be all the rage, will leave a massive disused battery problem to cope with in the future. Hydrogen fuel will not.
Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #5325 24 Apr 2020 14:26
“….blah blah blah so that pedestrians can be even more selfish…”.

I’ll try to remember to leap right over the road next time I want to cross so that I i know my place; and as for the idea of having pavements on BOTH sides of a carriageway, surely that’s a luxury we pedestrians can do without for the good of others on wheels with places to get to.

Dig out the statistic of just how much public space in London is actually road, cross that with the percentage of Londoners and visitors who are pedestrians and then maybe think the comment through again.
Adrian Day's Avatar
Adrian Day posted a reply #5326 24 Apr 2020 16:02
To Neil Littman. The Council clearly (and thankfully) think otherwise - and have just contracted with a cycle courier firm to deliver prescriptions. I find that within a radius of three miles I can get to most places quicker within a bike than by car and an even wider area if you include parking time.
Adrian Day's Avatar
Adrian Day posted a reply #5327 24 Apr 2020 16:07
Re Simon Broughton's post. How do you expect pedestrians to distance six foot apart on three foot wide pavements? And as a healthcare practitioner I assume you do realise that nearly 25000 people die or are seriously injured on Britain's road every year - and its not bikes or pedestrians causing that? Finally, I wonder how your statement fits with the messaging from the government that we should distance to save lives and the NHS?
RIchard Crutchley's Avatar
RIchard Crutchley posted a reply #5328 24 Apr 2020 16:17
So pedestrians and cyclists can be even more selfish? What kind of ridiculous comment is this? British streets tend to be designed to accommodate vehicles, making their flow easier and quicker. This is at the wider detriment to just about everything - air quality, public space, public realm, noise, connectivity, mental health, logical choice of transport mode (i.e. short journeys are easier by car than bike / foot because the infrastructure supports one and not the other). What this terrible pandemic has demonstrated is that we can survive in a world where vehicles are far less dominant and - GUESS WHAT! - the world is a nicer place. The Government has given powers to local authorities to capitalise on this through the pandemic and cities all over the world are taking advantage of this. I acknowledge the work you're both doing delivering prescriptions, and that seems pretty essential to me at this time, and perhaps necessary by car. No-one is saying cars should be banned - I think the emphasis should be on providing equitable infrastructure for all forms of transport so people can make better choices and as a result we have a more attractive world. The evidence is not only theoretical, but now we're actually witnessing it. (I've been an urban designer for 25 years and still practise, specialising in town centre regeneration - that's not to say I know best, but I come from a place where this stuff is bleeding obvious and where we don't brand pedestrians and cyclists as selfish for no apparent reason)
Hal Haines's Avatar
Hal Haines posted a reply #5331 24 Apr 2020 16:48
Simon, there are no easy solutions. I think you understand that it we are not going to replace fossil fuelled cars with battery powered cars but I am not sure you understand that a hydrogen cell is just another type of battery. The cell requires some rare metals and end up wearing out and on the scrapheap as all batteries will. Also hydrogen is pretty difficult to store. The molecules are so small they leak out everywhere - for you can’t leave a hydrogen vehicle in an enclosed space without risking an explosion. I also think your comment about pedestrians and cyclists is pretty deplorable - must be a mistake surely?