Lambeth council say they have become the first local authority in the country to produce an emergency plan focused on making changes to roads and pavements in the borough “to improve road safety and to support social distancing whilst making essential journeys”.
Pavements will be extended into the road at some of the busiest parts of the borough, such as under the railway bridge in Herne Hill, as well as removing through traffic from roads such as Cornwall Road in Waterloo.
A council statement says the emergency changes will be followed by longer term work to make safe routes to and from the borough’s town centres, such as along Railton Road, so that residents are able to travel safely to spend money and support our local businesses at this difficult time. The plans will also look to keep Lambeth moving safely as travel patterns change and restrictions ease.
Cllr Claire Holland, the council’s deputy leader (sustainable transport, environment and clean air) says: “Coronavirus has dramatically changed the way people are using streets in Lambeth and beyond. “Many people are walking and cycling to make essential journeys or exercise, following the Mayor’s call to ensure public transport is used only by people who need it.
“But at the same time, we are facing a road danger with the Met recording speeds of up to 85mph in roads where people are having to walk or exercise to socially distance to reduce COVID-19 transmission. “That’s why we are taking urgent action to protect our residents.
“We will be moving quickly and flexibly, and while there are clear challenges around funding and capacity due to the virus, we will be taking action where we know there are particular issues. “We’ll continue to work closely with local communities and stakeholders to make sure we learn and adapt as the situation develops.”
The council statement released on April 28th adds: “Starting immediately, Lambeth council will be temporarily widening some pavements around the borough in places where pedestrians are finding it hard to observe social distancing. The first ‘pinch points’ the council will be working on are at:
- Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill (under railway bridge)
- Coldharbour Lane, Loughbourough Junction (under railway bridge)
Managing changing travel patterns
The council statement continues: “The coronavirus crisis is changing how we live, work and travel, with measures likely to be in place for a significant period of time. “In response Lambeth council are accelerating sections of its transport strategy to support safe travel and to anticipate changes to the national coronavirus response. They include:
- New restrictions in the neighbourhood around Fentiman Road in Oval and Stockwell and the Railton Road area between Brixton and Herne Hill. These areas already have some of Lambeth’s worst rat-running. The measures will create safe routes to our town centres for local residents and improve road safety.
- Further improvements to Cycleway 5 to help key workers and others make essential journeys on foot and by bike to Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital, and beyond
- Pavement widening to support social distancing: especially in areas where footfall which may increase if some restrictions are lifted by the government
Cllr Holland says: “Many of our main roads are controlled by TfL, so we will be working closely with them and the GLA to promote measures that will benefit people in Lambeth and the rest of London. “This includes looking to widen some pavements on TfL roads, extending bus lane hours, especially where there are lots of people cycling, and temporary cycle lanes on key routes.
“The council’s transport and capital programmes teams are working to put in changes within weeks. “These kinds of measures usually take months or years. “Due to the significant amount of research and planning already completed as part of the transport strategy the council are basing its emergency measures on the already established longer term vision for safe, clean transport in Lambeth.”(Source: Lambeth council’s official Love Lambeth website)
Further reading: What, more cycle lanes? On yer bike! Richard Littlejohn column, Daily Mail May 8th 2020