Transport in the time of COVID-19: Update 05/05/2020

This update is to be presented at Brian Deegan’s #Ideaswithbeers Zoom session on 5th May  2020. Please see the original here and last update

Things to read

  • This is a wonderful read on Covid-19 and Climate Change
  •  A very good and cautious piece by Damian Carrington on air quality and the corona virus.
  •  Not surprising to see an interesting piece by Tom Vanderbilt.
  •  One of the best things to read on where we are now and what we should be doing – everything from caps on taxis, through to reducing private car use. Michael Liebreich, Chairman of Liebreich Associates, Founder and Senior Contributor of Bloomberg NEF, ex-TFL Board Member – a hard-headed business person if ever there was one points how we  “must promote active travel and micro-mobility, not as a nice-to-have for sustainability or health reasons, but as a public priority in order to keep cities moving and to enable robust economic activity.
  •  A thread in which Chris Kenyon refers to the need for a strategic approach – we can’t just have bits and pieces. Important!
  • Who gets bailed out? See this.
  • Worth reading this just for this quote:  “The most harmful and self-defeating reaction to these constraints would be people returning to their cars – something we emphatically don’t want. It would entrench inequality, as nearly half of London’s households don’t own one, and it would be disastrous for air quality, carbon emissions and public health. We can’t replace one public health crisis with another, be that one borne of obesity or pollution.

Things to do

Things that are happening abroad

I’m not spending time on this – we all know that a lot is happening in Berlin, Lima, Paris and throughout France, Brussels etc., although it’s not always good – dos ee the details and what’s happening in terms of car use NOT ebing restricted even if space is being made elsewhere for pedestrians and cyclists.

But a lot is happening: even in the poorest country in Europe with few resources, Tirana is making an effort, as the Mayor says: “Nëse nuk e shfrytëzojmë këtë moment, për të krijuar më shumë hapësira socializimi për #çiklizëm & #ecje për të luftuar #VirusCorona”.

Check @MikeLydon for international updates + @citycyclists for national ones as well.

Things that are happening in the UK

  • Clean Air Zones in Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester have been put on the shelf – don’ forget the bad news.
  •  York: York’s first pop up bike lane is now signed – taking over narrow traffic lane on inner ring road for bikes and allow pedestrians to social distance passing each other.

  • Leicester: Key workers corridor near hospital.
  • Wirral: King’s parade in New Brighton will be closing to cars from Monday 4th, between Harrison Dr and the Clown roundabout. It hasn’t been implemented in the way originally envisaged – some objections from Councillors have restricted it.
  •  SCOTLAND:  Here’s a pop-up floating bus stop! (But see comment below: I should have seen right hand side of the road layout! However,I’m keeping this photo in because even if it’s not in the UK it does show what can be done.)


Camden: Footway extension:

Camden High Street: Road belonging to Transport for London

and how not to do it:

Kilburn High Road, social distancing keeping pedestrians apart on footway but not taking away carriageway space:

Croydon: Cllr. Stuart King: “Pleased to announce emergency plans to reduce road danger during lockdown. We’ll be suspending parking at locations in London Rd & Portland Rd to allow temp widening of footway to support social distancing. More locations under consideration. ..we will start closing a number of rat runs to help reduce motor traffic in residential roads. Fewer vehicles makes for safer walking and cycling …We will also introduce a cycle lane in London Rd from Thornton Heath pond and West Croydon to help key workers & others travel to Mayday @CUH_NHS Additional signage going in to encourage greater adherence to speed limits.”

Parking bays barriered off in Croydon


Chatsworth Road footway extension         +      Broadway Market filters

Lambeth (see last update for it’s Borough wide plan)

Herne Hill footway extension

Lewisham: Cllr. Sophie McGeevor: “… widening footpaths, installing modal filters, creating ‘pop up’ cycle lanes & school streets to help people in #Lewisham walk & cycle safely.”

Richmond: “…building an “post-Covid transport action plan” to “make sure that active travel… remain and improve as options within our borough” .  


 Rye Lane footway extension

Tower Hamlets:  Council promises to take away. a section of Old Ford Road near Victoria Park will be temporarily closed to motor vehicles to aid social distancing 4th May.



The Prime Minister:…was talking about taking the opportunity to push clean, green travel, active travel, cycling infrastructure and getting cars off the road,” Mayor of North of Tyne May 2nd.

The Minister for Transport:  Important announcement to come from Grant Shapps MP on measures to support Active Travel as we come out of lockdown. It has been delayed until later in the week…

The Mayor of London:Quieter roads and fewer jet planes have made for a more pleasant environment. Londoners will rightly demand neighbourhoods that permanently work for walking and cycling, and a renewed drive to address the climate emergency.”

The Mayor of London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman #StreetspaceLDN  May 1st 2020 wrote:

“With public transport capacity reduced dramatically when restrictions area eased, up to eight million journeys a day will need to be made by other means. If just a fraction switch to cars, London will grind to a halt, choking our economic recovery. That’s why @MayorOfLondon& @tfl are developing a Streetspace Plan to fast track changes to enable millions more people to safely walk and cycle. We’ll repurpose traffic lanes (1) & parking spaces (2) for temporary cycle lanes & widen footways for safe social distancing.(3)
We will quickly build a strategic cycling network (4)with temporary materials, create new routes(5) to reduce crowding on underground lines, alter traffic lights to reduce crossing times, restrict roads to buses & bikes (6) at certain times of the day.·(7)”  (my numbering)

  1. I would have preferred “general traffic lanes” – but the point is to repurpose lanes, which is good.
  2.  Taking car parking spaces away is a bold move – although Paris has been emphasising its commitment to it.
  3.  Excellent – what we need.
  4.  The devil will be in the detail here – how much will be covered by this “strategic” network…
  5. …and the “new routes”.
  6.  Another good move…
  7. ..although this can be confusing and limiting.

I understand we will get more detail by Sunday May 10th

Dr Robert Davis, Chair, RDRF 5th May 2020


7 thoughts on “Transport in the time of COVID-19: Update 05/05/2020


    I’m afraid that links on your page aren’t available for some reason. A message ‘ Hmm can’t reach this page’. So I’ve not been able to read the full texts of any posts.


  2. Pete Owens

    While widening footways is needed, creating temporary cycle lanes is the last thing we should be doing during the pandemic. In order to maintain social distancing we need to be able to use the whole width of the carriageway – not restricted to space shared with or in close proximity to pedestrians.

    Indeed we should be avoiding existing cycle lanes in order to keep ourselves distant from pedestrians. We should ride on the carriageway at least 2m out from the kerb and be prepared to move further out still if pedstrians need to step into the carriageway to pass each other safely.

    1. rdrfuk Post author

      Interesting point Pete. David Dansky has made the same sort of point: any cycle lanes need to be wide enough for safe overtaking, for example.

      1. Pete Owens

        Since Grant Shapps is proposing a large pot of money and consulting on standards for this sort of thing it is worth being explicit about just how much space that entails – so folk can contribute to the consultation:

        Start with pavements: Pedestrians need to be able to pass each other while leaving a 2m gap between them. If we assume a pedestrian is about 60 cm wide this means they need an absolute minimum of 3.2 m (more if there are people stopped waiting for a bus or queuing outside a shop) Very few pavements are this wide and those that are tend to be designated as shared use – so cyclists should keep off them to give pedestrians the space they need to pass each other.

        In most cases pedestrians need to use the carriageway to pass each other safely (a standard footway is 1.8 m, but they are often even narrower) so typically at least 1.4 m of the carriageway needs to be reallocated to pedestrians – so if the gutter has been designated as a cycle lane cyclists need to keep out of – and well clear of – that as well.

        Now come to designated cycle lane – which if it is separated as Shapps suggests really does need to be wide enough for safe overtaking.

        Starting from 1.4 m out from the kerb (the pedestrian space detailed above) you now have to include a 2 m wide buffer zone to keep the cyclist apart from pedestrians then 1 m for the moving width of the cyclist then 2 m separation then 1 m for the moving width of the overtaking cyclist
        30cm clearance from the kerbed separator and 50cm for the separator itself.

        This means you need to reallocate 1.4 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 0.3 + 0.5 = 8.2 m of road space to achieve this (ie about two and a half general traffic lanes) – and presumably the same on the other side of the road.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s