We are currently facing an unprecedented crisis. During this time the use of our streets has a direct impact on the lives of people affected by Covid-19. As lockdown measures are slowly lifted traffic volumes are already showing signs of increasing, so an urgent response is needed.
For people to make the choice to walk and cycle they need to be able to do so safely. We need infrastructure to enable people to safely walk and cycle now, otherwise the majority of Londoners without access to a car will have no safe way to get around.
Read why it’s so important that Southwark Council acts now! We have 3 asks.
We have identified key measures Southwark Council can take to enable active travel in the borough in response to the greatly reduced capacity of public transportation. Help us by supporting these measures on Commonplace.
See what Southwark Council has done to date to make streets safer for physical distancing.
Write to your councillors
We want Southwark Councillors to know we support the ambitions to quickly roll out schemes to make travel safe and healthy as lockdown eases.
Write to your councillor today and show your support. We’re eagerly awaiting detailed plans from Southwark Council. We hope they surpass the ambitions of our neighbours in Lambeth and Lewisham.
Finding your councillor
You can find your councillor by postcode on Southwark Council’s website. Their email is listed on their profile.
Copy in Richard Livingstone, the Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and the Climate Emergency, at firstname.lastname@example.org and Peter John, the Leader of the Council, at email@example.com.
Tell your councillors that we need our streets to work for people and let them know how important it is to act now, otherwise we risk increased air pollution and we still face the challenges of climate change.
Copy in your MP as well. You can find your MP here.
Ask your friends and neighbours to write a letter as well.
If you use twitter, tag in your councillors.
Join the campaign
Do you want to help us with the campaign?
- Spread the word. If you’re on social media, share stories about your experiences while using our streets. If you’re on twitter, tag us @southwarkcycle. #PutSouthwarkOnTheMap #StreetsForDistancing
- Talk to your friends and neighbours about your concerns. Do you want change in your area? Contact your councillors as a group.
- Want to do more? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re involved in a community or neighbourhood group, we can offer support and work together on this issue.
Tell Southwark where you want to see changes
Southwark Council has put up a map to take suggestions. Tell them what you’d like to see change. We have identified key priority measures that will enable active travel in the borough.
If you and your neighbours would like to campaign for a low traffic neighbourhood or a safe cycle route in your area, contact us at Southwark@lcc.org.uk.
Why this is important
We must urgently make our roads safer as we continue to deal with this crisis.
We are currently facing an unprecedented crisis. During this time the use of our streets has a direct impact on the lives of people affected by Covid-19. Key workers are still making journeys to work, daily exercise is important for physical and mental health, and people are visiting their high streets to do their essential shopping. Those without cars of course need to make these shopping journeys more frequently.
Due to inadequate street and pavement space it is difficult to adhere to physical distancing guidelines, which will likely be required until at least the end of the year. Additionally, even though traffic volume has reduced on our roads, vehicular traffic speeds have increased bringing risk of road traffic collisions to those that use them.
As lockdown measures are slowly lifted traffic volumes are already showing signs of increasing, so an urgent response is needed. Polling has shown that in response to the pandemic people in the UK want to use public transportation less, and private vehicles more in the near future. Yet, we’ve seen more people walking and cycling than before. For people to make the choice to walk and cycle they need to be able to do so safely. We need infrastructure to enable people to safely walk and cycle now, otherwise the majority of Londoners without access to a car will have no safe way to get around.
With 60% of Southwark residents not having access to a car, and significantly reduced capacity on public transportation, we need safe ways to walk and cycle. Before the lockdown, data mapping showed that in Southwark the majority of residents commuted using either trains or buses, with many also commuting on foot or by bike.
Many more people are now being asked to return to work. A significant percentage of those who are unable to work from home are on lower incomes and also less likely to have access to a car. Enabling those who can walk and cycle to do so will make travel by public transportation and other methods safe and accessible for those who cannot.
There is also a great risk of increased motor vehicle journeys as lockdown lifts. If people aren’t given options of safe travel, those with cars will drive, and all of us will face the consequences with increased air pollution, impacts on the climate, and gridlocked streets.
As well as announcing funding, Government has issued guidance to all councils to give more space to walking and cycling. Sadiq Khan has announced the Streetspace Plan which will roll out temporary improvements for walking and cycling. Lambeth Council hopes to quickly implement 10 Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Lewisham and Croydon have installed nearly 50 planters as modal filters.
We stress that we are aware of the tremendous pressure that Southwark Council is under both financially and across its resources, and we are supportive of the steps that the Council has taken to keep essential services running and to support vulnerable residents.
We are pleased to see that the council has started widening pavements to allow for physical distancing and announced their transport response to Covid-19, but Southwark has not yet published details how this will be achieved. We must ensure our streets will enable sustainable modes of travel as we emerge from this crisis. Additionally, the council needs to ensure that all measures take into account accessibility.
We ask Southwark Council to:
- Enable safe journeys taken by active travel for key workers.
As public transport is being used less, cycling provides an alternative for getting to work. Filtering key routes, particularly those near hospitals, will allow more of our key workers to travel without the stress of road danger. The Council can also create pop-up cycle lanes on key arterial routes on borough managed roads.
- Provide space for physical distancing while people exercise.
Most pavements are too narrow to keep the recommended 2 metres of distance and even though there is less traffic on our streets there has been increased speeding by drivers. Additionally, many Southwark residents live in high density areas that lack gardens and communal green space. Filtering roads can provide an environment where pedestrians and cyclists can safely use the street while getting exercise that benefits their mental and physical health.
- Support people while doing their essential shopping.
Many high streets do not have pavements wide enough to accommodate people queuing at shops while allowing others to safely pass following physical distancing guidelines. This leads people to face the choice of either walking too close to people and therefore increasing the risk of exposure, or of walking in the street and putting themselves at risk from cars. Temporarily restricting parking and loading or removing underused traffic lanes will allow for safe physical distancing while people do their essential shopping and also help support our high streets and local shopping centres.