In the UK, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Transport for London (TfL) have announced plans to transform parts of central London into one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world. The plans will create more space for social distancing when walking and cycling. Some streets will be converted to walking and cycling only, with others restricted to all traffic apart from buses.
Access for emergency services and disabled people will be maintained.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, says: “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.”
He adds: “If we want to make transport in London safe, and keep London globally competitive, then we have no choice but to rapidly repurpose London’s streets for people. By ensuring our city’s recovery is green, we will also tackle our toxic air which is vital to make sure we don’t replace one public health crisis with another.”
TfL has also confirmed that the Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be reintroduced on Monday, 18 May.
Gareth Powell, TfL’s Managing Director for Surface Transport, says: “Throughout this extremely difficult time, Londoners have followed Government guidance not to travel and we have seen an unprecedented drop in traffic levels. This brought with it a dramatic fall in pollution. In the last few weeks, the capital has become a greener, cleaner place and we are determined to keep it this way. To prevent the city clogging up, and to support the greater levels of walking and cycling that will vital to London’s re-start, we are reinstating road user charging schemes and making walking and cycling easier and safer than ever before.”