Riding out a national emergency together

StayHomeProtectTheNHSSaveLivesThere is no doubt that these are challenging and very unsettling times which, for the majority of us, are unprecedented. The current outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus, a pandemic, is changing the way we live our lives immensely.

On 13 March 2020, Prime Minster Boris Johnson announced that Local and mayoral elections in England would be postponed for a year (from 7 May 2020 to May 2021), due to the coronavirus outbreak.

On 16 March 2020, the government produced guidelines on COVID-19 with the advise that all ‘non-essential’ activities, especially in London, should be avoided. The London Cycling Campaign suspended all face-to-face LCC activities with immediate effect and until further notice.

Two days later, on 18 March, the Prime Minister announced that schools would close after gates shut on 20 March (Boris Johnson announces UK school to close, BBC, 18 March 2020).

On the 20 March, the Prime Minister ordered all pubs, clubs, restaurants, gyms and leisure centre to close later that same evening.

Then, on Monday evening (23 March 2020), the Prime Minister’s update went further, with three new measures:

  1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
  3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public

We all recognise that we are all in this together, and we all need to get through this together. ‘Stay Home to Protect the NHS and Save Lives’ is the message.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do (as of 26 March 2020 – check updates at GOV.UK/coronavirus

  • Stay at home
  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.


Exercise (safely) if you can….

For those not self isolating, going out for a short period of exercise once a day (provided you keep your distance from others) is still very much recommended (as of 26 March – check GOV.UK/coronavirus to ensure remains valid).

Cycling is clearly a very good form of exercise. In support of this, LCC has published a useful guide on tips for those returning to the cycling after a break, see Cycling to avoid Coronavirus?

(Monday to Friday 09:30-17:30 | Phone: 020 7234 9310 (option 0) | advice@lcc.org.uk | If you make contact out of hours. LCC will respond on the next working day)

Images courtesy of Alistair Hall (@alistairhall) and LCC (@london_cycling)

….enjoy your neighbourhood (safely) if you can…

If you have been out for a walk, jog or cycle in recent days, you almost certainly would have noticed a reduction in vehicles in residential areas. Many of the streets feel so much more welcoming as a result. All made better still by the recent sunny days, the sound of birds singing as the lighter days arrive, and how people acknowledge each other (from a distance) when passing. It almost seems as though low traffic neighbourhoods are being trialled – although, of course, it would have been better to have trialled low traffic neighbourhoods with a healthy population rather the under the current circumstances. Perhaps, as people notice and appreciate the difference, that is something that will be made easier to do when we get through this crisis. We hope so.

… and look towards the future with hope

In looking to the future, even in the situation that we currently find ourselves, it’s important to remember the ongoing climate emergency. Yes, that is something that will be difficult in the coming months. But, with the main priority being to get back to normal, perhaps there has never been a better time to consider what that ‘normal’ actually is. There is the ‘immediate future’, and then there is the ‘future future’.

That is why the LCC’s launch of the Climate Safe Streets Report last week (19 March 2020) is as critical now as it would have been had the Mayoral and London Assembly elections still been taking place in May 2020, rather than in May 2021.

Climate Safe Streets Report (London Cycling Campaign, 19 March 2020)

Remember too, that Sutton Council declared a climate emergency on 22 July 2019 (Sutton Council declares Climate Change Emergency, LB of Sutton, 23 September 2019) and that, in support of this the council ran a Climate Emergency Survey between 19 February and 31 March 2020.

A selection of reading that has caught our eye

During the next few weeks, we will update and add some links to cycling and active travel articles to this post. Articles that catch our eye and which, for the most part, will undoubtably reflect our campaigning ethos.

We hope you find them of interest. Let us know if you find any other articles for sharing here.

Air pollution likely to increase coronavirus death rate, warn experts (The Guardian, 17 March 2020) Lung damage from dirty air may worsen infections, but isolation measures improving air quality

There’s no better time for cities to take space away from cars (The Verge, 23 March 2020) The coronavirus pandemic presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for cities to remake their streets by taking space away from cars and giving it to pedestrians and bicyclists — permanently.

Can we improve the NHS’s ability to tackle covid-19 through emergency public health interventions? (The bmj opinion, 24 March 2020) The public have rapidly picked up on the need to “flatten the curve” of covid-19 and the NHS is exploring all options to increase its capacity. But are we missing a trick by not also working to lower the baseline demands placed on the NHS?

Toronto, Vancouver look into closing roads to create space for social distancing (The Globe and Mail, 25 March 2020) Two of Canada’s most densely populated cities are looking at barring auto traffic from parts of their streets so pedestrians can spread out and maintain the proper distance from each other.

In a Global Health Emergency, the Bicycle Shines (CityLab, 25 March 2020) As the coronavirus crisis forces changes in transportation, some cities are building bike lanes and protecting cycling shops. Here’s why that makes sense.

Cities after coronavirus: how Covid-19 could radically alter urban use (The Guardian, 26 March 2020) Pandemics have always shaped cities – and from increased surveillance to ‘de-densification’ to new community activism, Covid-19 is doing it already.

Cycling and the Covid-19 crisis: what London needs to be done now, and when the lockdown lifts (London Cycling Campaign, 9 April 2020). The London Cycling Campaign identifies actions that could be taken in the short to medium term in support of essential travel and social distancing, and calls on London’s authorities to consider adapting streets to provide more space and increased priority to active and sustainable travel modes. The importance of the need to rapidly implement the eight recommendations in LCC’s Climate Safe Streets report as the crisis ends is highlighted.

World cities turn their streets over to walkers and cyclists (The Guardian, 11 April 2020) From Berlin to Bogotá there are new footpaths and bike lanes – but not in London.

Local active transport – helping address impact of Coronavirus (Transport Initiatives, 13 April 2020) PDF. A short note on how councils and transport professionals can work on active travel to address the impact of Covid-19.

UK motorists caught at ‘extreme speeds’ on quiet lockdown roads (The Guardian, 13 April 2020) The number of motorists exceeding speed limits has doubled in some parts of the UK since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, increasing the risk to pedestrians taking their daily exercise.

Pop-up bike lanes help with coronavirus physical distancing in Germany (The Guardian, 13 April 2020) Road markings redrawn after cyclists demand more space to comply with Covid-19 rules.

Locking in positive behaviour change: repurposing streets around the world (TransportXtra, 14 April 2020) A digest of what’s happening around the world, and what campaigners, journalists and citizens are doing to encourage communities to lock in positive change for the future (and includes a link to a comprehensive post from Dr Robert Davis, Chair, the Road Danger Reduction Forum, Transport in the time of the Coronavirus crisis: what we need to do NOW.

London pedestrians and cyclists may get more space on roads (The Guardian, 14 April 2020) TfL considers measure during coronavirus lockdown to help physical distancing and safety. 

Our Pandemic Summer (The Atlantic, 14 April 2020) The fight against the coronavirus won’t be over when the U.S. reopens. Here’s how the nation must prepare itself.

Rethinking our streets: urgent policy responses to Covid-19 (London Living Streets, 16 April 2020) London Living Streets asks decision makers to urgently consider innovative and agile ways to adapt our public realm to support people during the public health crisis.

Cities are starting to report big declines in car crashes, but increases in speeding (City Metric, 16 April 2020)

Coronavirus has suddenly given British cities cleaner air. They’ve responded by delaying clean air measures (City Metric, 17 April 2020)

Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Carlina Rivera to Introduce Legislation to Open City Streets During Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic (New York City Council, 17 April 2020) New York City Council ….. will introduce legislation to open city streets to pedestrians and cyclists during the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic to allow New Yorkers more room for social distancing.

Pandemic: an opportunity for change – or soon back to normal? (Local Transport Today, 18 April 2020) LTT’s first online discussion tackled post-pandemic issues and the prospects for a permanent recasting of the transport landscape. There was quite a range of views and a lively debate.

Coronavirus: Banning cars made easier to aid social distancing (Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment Analyst, 20 April 2020)

Air pollution may be ‘key contributor’ to Covid-19 deaths – study (The Guardian, 20 April 2020) Research shows almost 80% of deaths across four countries were in most polluted regions.

Milan announces ambitious scheme to reduce car use after lockdown (The Guardian, 21 April 2020) Coronavirus-hit Lombardy city will turn 35km of streets over to cyclists and pedestrians.

Northern mayors call for economic rethink after coronavirus (The Guardian, 21 April 2020) Political leaders in northern England urge government not to return to ‘business as usual’.

New technical guidance on moving around during the COVID-19 outbreak (World Health Organisation, 21 April 2020) Whenever feasible, consider riding bicycles or walking.

The Guardian view on Covid-19 and transport: walk to the future – Editorial (The Guardian, 21 April 2020) The need for physical distancing means that space in our towns and cities must be shared in new ways.

Paris To Create 650 Kilometers Of Post-Lockdown Cycleways (Forbes, 22 April 2020)

Ministers asked to endorse temporary cycling infrastructure projects (TransportXtra, 24 April 2020) Coronavirus: NHS trusts and cycling organisation sign letter from bike company Brompton

Cycling is booming during coronavirus – let’s keep it that way (The Independent, 26 April 2020) Wuhan has lifted lockdown and, predictably, air pollution has shot back up. The humble bicycle could save us from the same fate.

AA poll of 20,000 members reveals 22% aim to drive less after lockdown; 36% aim to cycle more (Forbes, 27 April 2020)

UPDATED: De Blasio Commits to 100 Miles of ‘Open Streets’ (Streetsblog NYC, 27 April 2020) Mayor de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, commits to opening up 100 miles of streets for socially responsible recreation during the COVID-19 crisis.

Calls for more space for walking and cycling in UK during lockdown (The Guardian, 28 April 2020) Experts urge councils to reallocate roads and prevent congestion when restrictions are lifted.

HOW THE ‘COVID SAFE STREETS’ OF TODAY HAVE TO BECOME THE ‘CLIMATE SAFE STREETS’ OF TOMORROW. (Christopher Martin, Urban Movement, 28 April 2020) Take space on streets now to deliver ‘COVID Safe Streets’, to enable and inspire people to carry on walking and cycling for ‘Normal Life 2.0’. (Links to Christopher’s #walkingfromhome blog for Living Streets). 

Active Travel Measures for the Outdoor City (David Bocking, 29 April 2020) Sheffield is about to join Scotland and cities like New York, Barcelona and Berlin by putting in emergency measures to help people walking and cycling under the Covid-19 social distancing rules.

“We’ve only got weeks” to change UK’s cities for the better, warns Chris Boardman (road.cc, 29 April 2020) Appeal comes as AA survey suggests a third of drivers may cycle, walk or run more once lockdown eases.

Chris Boardman: “You can make plans for a filtered neighbourhood, for example, and normally you would have to go through a whole consultation period.

“But right now you can say ‘We’re going to implement it in seven days’. Then you have an opportunity to say to people ‘This has been in place during lockdown. Do you want to keep it?’”

Sadiq Khan: Now we must ask what kind of future we want (Evening Standard, 30 April 2020) “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”.

Is air pollution making the coronavirus pandemic even more deadly? (The Guardian, 4 May 2020) Dirty air is well known to worsen the heart and lung risk factors for Covid-19 – early research is cause for concern.

This could be the time to usher in a golden age for cycling in Britain (The Guardian, 11 May 2020) New measures reflect the place riding a bike has taken in our lives during the coronavirus crisis – but do they go far enough? The really good news for active travel is the new statutory guidance that, where public transport use is high, local authorities should reallocate road space for walking and cycling.

£2 billion funding reaction: “We hope that Local Authorities around England are bold” (Cycle Industry News, 11 May 2020) “While we wait for the detail of the big funding announcement for cycling and walking made at the weekend, we’ve pulled together some of the initial reaction to the investment news”.

TfL announces plan to help London travel safely and sustainably (TfL, 11 May 2020) “Londoners must continue working from home wherever possible to enable safe journeys for those who cannot do so”……… “Those who need to travel [are] asked to reimagine their journeys where possible: use existing or newly introduced walking and cycling options and ‘shop local’ to relieve pressure on public transport. Public transport should be avoided wherever possible”.

Streetspace for London (TfL, 11 or 12 May 2020)

New guidance published to ensure transport network is safe for those who need to use it (Department for Transport, 12 May 2020) Guidance for passengers on how to travel safely and safer transport guidance for operators>>>>>

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers (Department for Transport, 12 May 2020) “Walking and cycling will reduce pressure on the public transport system and the road network. Consider walking and cycling if you can. Local cycling schemes can be used. Your local council can help you plan your journey by providing maps showing dedicated paths and routes“.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators (Department for Transport, 12 May 2020)

The Guardian view on changing streets: drivers must give way – Editorial (The Guardian, 12 May 2020) Cyclists and pedestrians need enough space to move around safely, not a culture war. “For public transport, the need for people to keep 2 metres apart is an intractable problem”. “…of the 808bn passenger kilometres travelled in the UK in 2019, 83% were driven in cars or vans. By contrast, the government’s target for cycling is to double the number of journeys to 4% of the total by 2025”.

No C-charge for another three weeks as TfL faces £4bn drop in income (Evening Standard, 12 May 2020) “The congestion charge and ultra-low emission zone levies will not be re-introduced for at least another three weeks, Mayor Sadiq Khan has indicated. This is despite new figures showing Transport for London’s financial crisis caused by the lockdown is even worse than feared, with a £4 billion loss of income expected this financial year”.

FAST URBAN CHANGE – A HOW TO GUIDE (Urban Design Group, 12 May 2020) This HOW TO GUIDE aims to set out in the simplest terms the options available to towns and cities to make life more bearable under the current crisis. It signposts key UK legislation, including powers and legal instruments, as well as the practical measures that local authorities are introducing internationally.

Sadiq Khan forced to hike congestion charge after Government’s Transport for London bail-out (Evening Standard, 15 May 2020)

“We will need many more Londoners to walk and cycle to make this work. That’s why these plans will transform parts of central London to create one of the largest car-free areas in any capital city in the world.

“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. I urge all boroughs to work with us to make this possible.

Meanwhile, whilst all this was going on, and just a few days after the lockdown started in the UK on 23 March, the Department for Transport published the anticipated policy paper on transport decarbonisation….

Policy Paper – Creating the transport decarbonisation plan (Department for Transport, 26 March 2020) Document stating the current challenges and steps to be taken when developing the transport decarbonisation plan.

These are tough times but, by following the government’s advice, we will ride through them together. Stay well, and “Thank you” to everyone at the NHS and to all our essential workers.

v1: 26.03.2020; v1.1: 26.03.2020; v1.2: 02.04.2020; v1.3: 05.04.2020; v1.4: 14.04.2020; v1.5: 15.04.2020; v1.6: 20.04.2020 (x2); v1.7: 21.04.2020 (the date on which Sutton Council declared a Climate Emergency corrected to 22 July 2019, not 23 September 2019 as originally stated); v1.8: 25.04.2020 (additions to reading list); v1.9: 26.04.2020 (further amendments to the reading list); v1.10: 27.04.2020 (further additions to reading list); v1.11: 28.04.2020 (further additions to reading list); v1.12: 29.04.2020 (further additions to reading list); v1.13: 30.04.2020 (further addition to reading list); v1.14: 01.05.2020 (further addition to reading list); v1.15: 04.05.2020 (further addition to reading list); v1.16: 11.05.2020 (further addition to reading list); v1.17: 13.05.2020 (further addition to reading list); v1.18: 15.05.2020 (further addition to reading list); v1.19: 02.06.2020.

Posted in Advocacy, News

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