What to do NOW in the COVID crisis: Update 21st May 2020

A couple of days after the presentation on Brian Deegan’s #Ideaswithbeers Zoom session, I look at the prospects and continue the update of transport in the Covid crisis since the last update


* Shapps and free parking. 14th May. It looks like the Minister may be pushing for “free” car parking in town centres – not a good move for reducing car use!

* Johnson and obesity. There’s a report on the alleged comment by the Prime Minister here:
““I’ve changed my mind on this. We need to be much more interventionist,” Boris Johnson declared in a conversation last week with some of his most senior ministers and advisers. The subject: obesity.”
* Summary from Cycling UK on where we are.
* The key point to emerge in the last week is the delay in central Government telling UK Highway Authorities HOW to re-allocate road space and to apply for the funding to do so. See  Ruth Cadbury MPs question :
When will DfT publish their revised design guidance, and a report on the funding required for walking and cycling? “In due course”.
* In a letter from Minster Chris Heaton-Harris we learn:
The good news is the DfT is considering offering more cycle training for secondary school children and key workers. The bad news is no VAT cut on bikes and no grant for buying e-bikes” (APPCWG)
* And a Twitter Comment from Professor Phil Goodwin on the need to reduce numbers of cars being used:
The sums still don’t add up without substantial, improved, public transport. When it is safe to work, shop, educate etc again, it can also be safe to use public transport – not sensible or necessary to use virus to undermine buses and trains. Walk and cycle yes, but reduce cars.” @Phil_Goodwin99.
* Also read: Important research from CREDS on the importance of reducing car use.

The importance of being “car free”

In the UK :


Birmingham is moving ahead

On 20th May Waseem Zaffar Cabinet Member – Transport & Environment writes to Shapps re-20mph for Birmingham City Council


Cones in Cardiff

Not much joy in Edinburgh or Lancaster.

Liverpool Some “joy” here


Deansgate scheme

The Deansgate (particle closure) to motor vehicles is implemented, but here is how to NOT put “protection” in on a cycle lane:

Oh dear

and there’s an interesting re-allocation on “Curry Mile” with a cycle lane in between footway space here

Curry Mile

Newcastle Steps forward here .



A successful campaignfor key workers is gathering momentum:

Three of the biggest NHS trusts in London – Barts Health, St George’s and Barking, Havering and Redbridge – on board as of 18th May.

And here is a key announcement from the Mayor:

“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” Mayor Khan 15th May.

Do read what’s possible here.

Car free central London

There’s an interesting graphic here – but do look in the bottom left hand corner to see that the area covered (where only a minority of travel is by car at the moment) is actually a small part of London. Some 10 miles of London’s 7,500 is covered – not that that has stopped taxi drivers and the Road Haulage Association from panicking with ill-informed prejudice in response.

TfL Park Lane

Park Lane stage one

This has received a lot of coverage as a “flagship” scheme by Transport for London – but as yet it only covers a part of one side of Park Lane.

Graphic: Simon Still


Harlesden Town Centre

This is the kind of change appearing in various parts of London

City of London  Leading the way in various moves to reduce the dominance of motor vehicles.   Plans (20th May) 3 further streets for consideration


Interesting to see a lot of footway extension (and also pedestrian guard rail removal) as well as 20 mph introduction – but see how bad parking can impinge on the benefits.

Hackney .

Queensbridge Road

These cycle tracks already due for implementation finally went in, funnily enough just as the temporary filtered permeability (closure of one end of the road to motor vehicles) was installed.

Hammersmith and Fulham

Kensington and Chelsea

Even Kensington and Chelsea! (Click on photo for detail)

Here is the Twitter message from Councillor Claire Holland on what the pioneer Covid crisis road space re-allocation Borough in London is intending – worth a read to see what a Borough (with 330,000 population) is trying to do: @clairekholland 15th May

Following on from our emergency strategy published three weeks ago, today I have been able to agree @lambeth_council’s programme for the next six months. We’ve agreed to re-purpose c.£1.8m from our highways budget to deliver the baseline scenario. Using this funding, the programme sets out where and when, by August, we will deliver:
4 low traffic neighbourhoods /3 healthy routes incl. protected cycle lanes / 3 access-only roads /
6 more locations for pavement widening However, our plan goes much further…
If we are able to access emergency funding, in the ‘max’ scenario we are planning to implement LTNs across large swathes of @lambeth_council and build 8 temporary cycle tracks, alongside a raft of school streets, pavement widening and cycle training programmes
When you put that together with the @MayorofLondon’s unprecedented #StreetspaceLDN plan, we will have a transport network that enables people to move around safely; protects our communities from road danger and COVID-19 & helps Lambeth’s businesses recover as restrictions ease (emphasis is mine RD)

Merton has had campaigners pushing for road space re-allocation, but seems to be dragging its feet with a desire for (lengthy) consultation on filters which other Boroughs don’t seem to need .

Wandsworth Here’s an indication that even this strongly pro-driver Borough may be doing something positive:

Incidentally, do take a look at Chris Kenyon’s suggestions for their “Comms” team to do the messaging properly!:

  • Add people walking … it’s about healthy streets not bikes. 
  • Drop the grass – It’s about streets not parks.
  • Add panniers & baskets – it correctly reflects local shopping & economic benefits.
  • Minimum 50% of riders, no helmets.
  • Dutch style bikes.

So why are some London Councils (not all) apparently showing willing to enable socially distance walking and cycling?

The London Cycling Campaign blog suggestsThe :
“It is clear that any funding now coming from the Mayor and TfL will be likely to go to those boroughs getting on with this (the Streetspace for London approach, RD) approach. And it is being implied that those councils who do nothing may face the prospect of these approaches being delivered by the DfT or TfL despite their objections.”


As in previous weeks it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with actual and proposed changes. What is clear is that levels of motor traffic are increasing again and the “window” for achieving change is closing. The need to campaign hard continues – some Councillors have not seen the Government guidance  HERE   with its REQUIREMENTS for re-allocating road space and need to be informed . You can go to Cycling UK and Living Streets web sites for forms to send to them, and do work with your local groups.

More next Tuesday on #Ideaswithbeers.

Remember, time is short.


Dr Robert Davis, 21st May 2020


1 thought on “What to do NOW in the COVID crisis: Update 21st May 2020

  1. Peter Owens

    I think those two examples from Manchester are reallocating the cycle lanes to pedestrians to facilitate social distancing rather than barriers to “protect” the cycle lanes.


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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