Cycling could “increase 10-fold” through London’s new Streetspace plan

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and TfL have revealed plans to fast track the transformation of London’s roads with a range of measures that could increase cycling 10-fold and walking five-fold post Covid-19 lockdown, so said the Mayor’s office.

Unveiled today, Streetspace will give space to new cycle lanes and wider pavements to enable social distancing. Landmark routes will get temporary bike routes and more space to work to alleviate the train on the Tube and buses. Clean, green and sustainable travel will be “at the heart of London’s recovery”.

There’s a good risk that London will grind to a halt post lockdown. With the city’s public transport capacity potentially running at a fifth of pre-crisis levels, millions of journeys a day will need to be made by other means. If people switch only a fraction of these journeys to cars, air quality will worsen, road danger would increase and congestion will ramp up considerably.

TfL, working with London’s boroughs, will make changes – “unparalleled in a city London’s size” – to focus on three key areas:

  • The rapid construction of a strategic cycling network, using temporary materials, including new routes aimed at reducing crowding on Underground and train lines, and on busy bus corridors.
  • A complete transformation of local town centres to enable local journeys to be safely walked and cycled where possible. Wider footways on high streets will facilitate a local economic recovery, with people having space to queue for shops as well as enough space for others to safely walk past while socially distancing.
  • Reducing traffic on residential streets, creating low-traffic neighbourhoods right across London to enable more people to walk and cycle as part of their daily routine, as has happened during lockdown.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The capacity of our public transport will be dramatically reduced post-coronavirus as a result of the huge challenges we face around social distancing.

“Everyone who can work from home must continue to do so for some time to come. The emergency measures included in our major strategic London Streetspace programme will help those who have to travel to work by fast-tracking the transformation of streets across our city. Many Londoners have rediscovered the joys of walking and cycling during lockdown and, by quickly and cheaply widening pavements, creating temporary cycle lanes and closing roads to through traffic we will enable millions more people to change the way they get around our city.

“I urge the Government and boroughs to work with us to enable Londoners to switch to cleaner, more sustainable forms of transport – and reduce the pressure on other parts of our transport network – once the lockdown is eased.”

Euston Road is one of the first main thoroughfares to benefit from temporary cycle lanes. Park Lane could follow suit under plans being studied.

The temporary schemes will be reviewed by TfL – and could become permanent.

TfL has already begun making improvements to boost social distancing using temporary infrastructure. Pavements have already been doubled in size at Camden High Street and Stoke Newington High Street and widened at six further locations –  with more to follow in the coming weeks.

TfL has also worked with Hackney Council to close Broadway Market to through traffic and, with Royal Parks, to close through traffic at weekends to The Mall/Constitution Hill and all Royal Parks (except Regents Park).

Further improvements as part of the London Streetspace plan will include:

  • Creating new walking and cycling routes along major corridors, including temporary cycle lanes in Euston Road. TfL is also looking at creating temporary cycle lanes on Park Lane. Upgrades will also be made to existing routes including creating sections of temporary segregation from Merton to Elephant and Castle, and Pimlico to Putney. Space for cycling will be created between Catford town centre and Lewisham via the A21, and on the A23 between Oval and Streatham Hill.
  • The Cycleway 9 scheme between Kensington Olympia and Brentford, and the Cycleway 4 scheme between Tower Hill and Greenwich will be accelerated with temporary measures so the Londoners can benefit from them more quickly. Meanwhile on-street parking and lanes for cars and general traffic will be repurposed to give people on foot and on bikes more space.
  • Widening more pavements in town centres to allow people to access local essential shops and services more easily. Pavements will be widened in more than 20 locations, including in Brixton and Earl’s Court in the coming days.
  • Working to make walking and cycling in local neighbourhoods safer and more attractive by reducing the speed and volume of motor traffic. A low-traffic neighbourhood will be created in Hounslow along the future Cycleway 9 route by closing local roads to through traffic and further locations across London will follow, with TfL actively supporting boroughs to reduce motor traffic on residential streets to make walking and cycling safer and easier.

Further measures are set to be announced soon.

Gareth Powell, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said: “As people are choosing to walk and cycle, both for their essential journeys and for exercise during the lockdown it is vital that they have the space to do so safely and are able to continue socially distancing. The London Streetspace programme – providing more space for walking and cycling – will support that. It will also play a crucial role as London approaches the challenge of maintaining social distancing as restrictions on movement are relaxed.”

Stephen Edwards, Director of Policy & Communications at Living Streets, the UK’s everyday walking charity, said: “Wider pavements and low traffic neighbourhoods will undoubtably help people feel safer walking everyday journeys, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted the importance that walking plays in our lives; with huge numbers of Londoners walking as part of their daily exercise and for local shopping trips. Where London’s pavements aren’t suitable for safe social distancing, it is vital widening happens to ensure people aren’t forced into the paths of oncoming traffic. Walking and cycling have a key role to play to take the pressure off public transport as we emerge from the lockdown, so it’s great news that TfL are looking at enabling walkers and people cycling to travel safely. We look forward to working with them on this project.”

Giulio Ferrini, Sustrans London Head of Built Environment, said: “As the charity making it easier for people to walk and cycle, we’re excited to see ambitious plans at a London-wide and borough level. Local authorities are critical in reshaping our streets to strengthen London’s resilience now and as we emerge from lockdown. A potential surge in car use would clog up our streets with traffic, choke our lungs with pollution and exacerbate inequality. Now is the time to take positive action that will give all Londoners a cleaner city to live and work in. Bold actions from boroughs today can make a tangible difference to Londoners’ daily lives and will lead to a healthier, happier and fairer London as travel restrictions are lifted in the weeks to come.”

Dr Ashok Sinha, CEO of the London Cycling Campaign, said: “As the lockdown is eased, London will need to get moving again, but in a manner that maintains social distancing. The only way to do this effectively – whilst also avoiding a calamitous return to toxic air, high carbon emissions and traffic-choked streets – is to make it easier and safer for millions of people to walk and cycle. Large numbers of Londoners have already taken to cycling for essential travel and exercise during lockdown; the demand is there, and the Mayor’s new Streetspace plan can and should be the start of a permanent transition to a greener, healthier and more resilient city.”

TfL will continue to look at its existing walking and cycling projects to see where these could be used to create space for people walking and cycling more quickly.