There’s noises coming from TfL and boroughs such as Greenwich and Lewisham about changes to streets to prevent gridlock as people return to work and keep numbers cycling or walking, including enabling social distancing on tight paths.
We are now 41 days past lockdown when public transport was to be used only by those making essential journeys. So far there’s been no specific action announced let alone implementation.
Many other world cities have long since introduced measures. In Berlin, for example, it took just three days from initial planning to implementation.
So what easy wins could we see in south east London? Many will be all too aware of areas near them that could be improved. One obvious standout to me are cycle lanes from Plumstead through Woolwich, Charlton and Greenwich. And no, the Thames Path isn’t ideal for everyone and it’s busy as it is.
One obvious easy and cheap action is to install “wands” or poles along the length of the road offering light separation between general traffic and cyclists. The lanes already exist.
Some now exist in east Greenwich:
Yet vast areas of cycle lane don’t have any.
They could also prevent parked cars blocking lanes.
It’s the same story for miles. This area is due a multi-million pound upgrade but why not install far cheaper measures in the interim?
Could we see painted cycle lanes on wide paving too where paving is wide enough? This was something I noticed in many European nations including the Netherlands. Many hold up the Netherlands as an exemplar – and it is – but in many places they simply paint on paving. It’s cheap and easy to implement widely and sets cultural norms that can be invested upon later.
There’s potential legal issues in the area above. I suspect council land is only where they installed their “straight-out-the-90s” paving in recent years.
But that isn’t the case everywhere. There’s is a once in a lifetime chance to enact changes with long-term impact. With traffic anecdotally increasing by the day, every week’s delay makes it harder to achieve. Wait too long and those those dabbled with cycling will give up as more cars return, and some drivers will complain bitterly about disruption as measures are introduced. Do it while the roads are quiet and that could be lessened.
Is it already too late?