Transforming Bishopsgate for people walking, cycling and using the bus
- New temporary traffic restrictions support London's recovery
- Scheme will make cycling safer and easier, and wider pavements will make more space for people walking
- To ensure the area remains accessible to all, general traffic - including taxis - can access the corridor from side streets during restricted hours
- Work has also been completed on significant temporary upgrades to the CS7 cycle route in Balham and Tooting
Transport for London (TfL) has brought in changes today that will transform one of central London's major thoroughfares into a safer and less intimidating place that prioritises people walking and cycling. The new traffic restrictions between Shoreditch and London Bridge are part of TfL's response to the coronavirus pandemic, which is helping to create more space for walking, improve cycling conditions and enable people to maintain social distancing, particularly at busy times.
The temporary restrictions on Bishopsgate and Gracechurch Street in the City of London - which came into operation today at 07:00 - are a key part of the Mayor of London and TfL's world-leading Streetspace plans. The restrictions will be in operation on weekdays between 07:00 and 19:00, making it safer and easier for people to access central London by bike. Wider footways have been constructed along the corridor to give people on foot more space and a number of banned turns, which will be in operation 24 hours a day, will also be introduced along the road. These temporary measures will continue to provide access for servicing and taxis for most of the busy corridor, except for two short sections of road - Middlesex Street to Liverpool Street, and Leadenhall Street to Fenchurch Street - where access to vehicles is restricted between 07.00 - 19.00. Access to buildings on these streets will be from either end of these sections, with direct access remaining at all other times.
The new measures will reduce the level of motor traffic on the road, reducing the risk of a car-based recovery from coronavirus, while still ensuring it is an accessible area. TfL is committed to ensuring that Streetspace schemes are inclusive for all, which is why general traffic - including taxis - can continue to access the corridor from side streets during restricted hours.
The changes will be vital to supporting people moving through the area, as school children start to return from 1 September and as more people return to their workplaces and visit cultural and leisure destinations in central London. Pre-pandemic around 250,000 school children used London's buses daily to travel to and from school. The new measures will play an important part in supporting the demand on the transport network by providing more space for people to walk and cycle, minimising bus journey times and avoid overcrowding in order to maintain social distancing.
As London's safe public transport capacity continues to be restricted while social distancing measures remain, millions of journeys a day will need to be made by other means. If people switch these journeys to cars, London risks grinding to a halt, air quality will worsen, and road danger will increase. Congestion already costs London's economy around £5 billion per year, with drivers losing 227 hours per year to congestion.
Since May, Streetspace has led to more than 50km of new or upgraded cycle infrastructure being built or currently under construction, along with more than 16,500 square metres of extra pavement space on the TfL network alone. TfL has also installed a total of 1,540 extra cycle parking spaces across London, focused around busy areas like high streets and transport hubs.
Work has also completed on a major 3.7km temporary upgrade to an older cycle route, CS7, in southwest London. Work in Balham and Tooting has added new sections of protected cycle lane to the existing route, which is one of London's busiest, making it much safer and more attractive to people wanting to cycle in the area and to central London and beyond. The route follows a busy section of the Northern line in southwest London and will help relieve pressure on public transport for people travelling between the area, central London and beyond.
To complement the latest wave of temporary walking and cycling infrastructure introduced as part of the Streetspace plan, TfL has launched a new advertising campaign promoting the physical and mental health benefits of active travel. The 'Now is the Time' campaign, which includes posters and a TV advert, aims to inspire Londoners to enjoy the benefits of walking and cycling whether on their journey to work, school or the local shops.
Walking and cycling have been shown to have many physical benefits, including reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease and cancer, but there are wider benefits too. Walking for just ten minutes twice a day can reduce stress and anxiety and has also been proven to reduce the risk of depression by 20-30 per cent.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: "I'm delighted that our bold new measures to boost buses, walking and cycling in Bishopsgate have come into operation today. With increasing numbers of people returning to central London, it's more important than ever that we do all we can to avoid a damaging car-based recovery which would damage Londoners' health and the economy.
By creating more space to walk and cycle, our world-leading Streetspace for London plans are helping support a sustainable recovery for our city."
Alexandra Batey, TfL's Director of Investment Delivery Planning, said: "As people return to school, work and leisure across London, it's absolutely vital that streets are able to cope with increased demand for walking and cycling if we are to avoid a car-led recovery from coronavirus. We're running near normal levels of public transport services and are working hard to deliver extra space for walking and cycling right across the capital. The opening of the first walking and cycling priority corridor along Bishopsgate in central London today is a significant step forward for our Streetspace programme and will make a real difference to people moving around this busy corridor between Shoreditch and London Bridge."
Alastair Moss, Chair of the City of London Corporation Planning and Transportation Committee, said: "The transformation of Bishopsgate to give priority to pedestrians, cyclists and those travelling by bus during the coronavirus pandemic perfectly complements the City of London Corporation's efforts to increase the safety for all workers, residents and visitors on City streets. The City Corporation is dedicated to a sustainable transport recovery plan that does not rely on the increased use of cars that would lead to increased congestion, air pollution and road danger.
"To accommodate for the growing number of people returning to work or visiting the City, we have been maximising the space available for safe and socially distanced travel including the temporary closure or timed closure of streets, the reallocation of carriageway and introduction of additional cycle parking bays. It goes without saying that we want every person to get to their City destination safely and comfortably, therefore these changes to Bishopsgate are a very welcome part of that vision."
Andrew Reynolds, Chair of the EC Partnership, representing businesses in the area around Bishopsgate, said: "This is welcome news as this important scheme will provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists helping them to move more easily around the city and feel safe. Instilling confidence and providing reassurance is vital to encourage workers and visitors to return to central London, which is what we need to see our great city regain its vibrancy and energy. We will continue to work closely with TfL and the City Corporation to promote these messages to our business community as the recovery continues."
Sustrans London director James Austin said: "Nearly half of London households don't have access to a car and with social distancing in place, there have to be safe, attractive alternatives to public transport. Covid is disproportionately affecting poorer areas. Boroughs should be creating streets across London that are attractive and feel safe to walk, wheel or cycle on. There is still opportunity to do better on this.
"I'm inspired to see TfL and boroughs putting in temporary infrastructure in record time as part of the Covid recovery. It's crucial that Londoners share their views with TfL to help with getting this right so it best meets the needs of communities."
New and upgraded cycle lanes are being delivered across London as part of TfL's Streetspace plans to respond to the current public health emergency and support the safe restart of London's economy by introducing temporary walking and cycling measures across London. TfL and Greenwich Council recently announced that work to transform roads for cycling between Greenwich and Woolwich has been fast-tracked to start next month, with plans including a complete overhaul of the dangerous Angerstein roundabout. TfL and Lewisham Council have set out a series of measures to improve conditions for people cycling and using public transport between Lewisham and Catford, by making changes to entry to and exit from Lewisham High Street and extending bus lane operation to 24/7.
In recent weeks, TfL has joined with the walking and cycling charity Sustrans to introduce the Space to Move Map https://www.sustrans.org.uk/space-to-move, which highlights the changes being made across London. The map makes it possible for Londoners to see where TfL and London boroughs are making it easier to walk and cycle safely and provides an opportunity for feedback. Using the map, people can search their area for new walking and cycling infrastructure and share their views with TfL directly.
Planning work on further low-traffic corridors in central London continues, including between Old Street and Holborn, with further details to be set out in the autumn.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- All motor vehicles, including taxis, will be able to access the Bishopsgate walking, cycling and bus corridor using side streets
- Kerbside access requirements are considered as part of every scheme when laying out temporary infrastructure. TfL recognises that taxis will need to drop off and pick up passengers. Where direct kerbside access has been reduced, TfL is working to ensure that taxi access is provided as close by as possible.