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Streets for Distancing: Our campaign asking the council to prioritise active travel in response to Covid-19

Southwark Council has just announced their first measures under the TfL Streetspace plan, which will make it easier to travel sustainably around London as public transport capacity is reduced. We’ve looked at the council’s plans and outline them below.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your councillors today! We want them to know that it’s great to see this announcement and it’s urgent that they take further action. This only needs to be a few short words. Find your councillors here.

The schemes in the plan are ones that the council had already been working on prior to the pandemic, with changes so that they can be implemented quickly and under TfL and Department for Transportation’s (DfT) new guidance. This new guidance encourages using temporary materials to quickly create space for walking and cycling. These temporary measures can be made permanent and improved if they need to be.

You can view the council’s decision documents with details about all these schemes here. Take a look at our interactive map so you can see where the proposals are across the borough.

We should start seeing the changes implemented in the next week or two. If you live or travel in any of these areas, please let us know what you think of  the changes by emailing us at

Cycle Superhighway 7

CS7, one of the first Cycle Superhighways, opened a decade ago. It runs from Colliers Wood to Southwark Bridge. The majority of it is painted blue with no separation between cycles and cars. TfL have already announced they will upgrade the section from Colliers Wood to the Elephant as part of their Streetspace plan.

Southwark Council’s plans cover the section from the Elephant to Southwark Bridge. Planning for this upgrade was already underway and the drawings included with the Council’s decision were developed prior to lockdown. Details are a bit unclear and we can expect that what gets installed will be different from what’s shown in the plans. What we can expect is light separation from traffic. This will be done with either rubber bolt down kerbs or wands. Motorcycle parking and coach bays will be removed. This will also help by preventing cars being parked on the cycleway.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Walworth

A low traffic neighbourhood is an area where cars and trucks can drive to but not through. They are broken up by modal filters, which can be bollards, concrete blocks, or planters, that let people on foot and on cycles pass through. This greatly reduces rat running traffic in the area. As GPSs calculate the shortest routes people take short cuts through residential neighbourhoods on roads that are not designed for that much traffic.

These plans suggest two such LTNs in Walworth, on both sides of Walworth Road. This will decrease air pollution in the area, and make walking and cycling safer. LTNs also reduce overall traffic, so this means less cars on the road.

We also expect this to improve Cycleway 17 on Portland Street and Brandon Street. Even though they won’t be filtered, the reduction of rat runs in the area will reduce traffic, especially at junctions. If this isn’t enough to tackle the issues here, we’ll be asking for additional measures, ideally filtering Portland/Brandon Street itself.

Pavements near Kennington Station are also being widened.

Modal Filters in Dulwich

There are two modal filters being installed in Dulwich, one at the Dulwich Village/Calton Avenue/Court Lane junction and the other on Melbourne Grove between Tell Grove and Ashbourne Grove. This is part of the Our Healthy Streets: Dulwich project, and the next phase from the council will see more measures from this project in the area. The Dulwich Village filter will greatly reduce traffic on Calton, part of Cycleway 17. Melbourne Grove is a rat run, so this filter is much needed too. We’d love to see measures on the other side of East Dulwich Grove, too.

Cycling Contraflows in Peckham

Cycling contraflows allow people cycling to travel in both directions on one way streets. There are a number of one way streets between Rye Lane and Bellenden Road. These changes will make it easier for people to cycle in the area.

Four school street

School streets are timed closures that reduce air pollution and improve safety at the school gate. The great thing about these proposals is that they use modal filters so they are in operation for the entire day, not just at school drop off and pick up times. The four schools are Comber Grove Primary, Goodrich Community Primary, Rye Oak Primary, and Camelot Primary.

Champion Hill One Way Filter

This is an existing trial on Champion Hill restricting northbound traffic. This has greatly reduced rat running traffic. We campaigned in support of making this filter permanent earlier this year. We are disappointed this trial has been extended since results of the consultation were largely supportive, but this could be due to the council’s limited resources since the start of lockdown.

Consort Road

This was an already planned scheme for a raised zebra crossing on Consort Road. This is a permanent, not temporary, scheme.

So where does this put Southwark?

We’re very pleased with this initial announcement and these changes are a welcomed first step. However we are concerned that Southwark is moving slower than some other London Boroughs. There is very little time to drastically change the way our roads are used in order to ensure that most of us can use them to return to work or school. It’s hard to gauge how far along Southwark Council is in making these changes since we don’t know the scale of their plans. If these measures are installed within the next two weeks and we start seeing details of the next phase within that time frame with the same turnaround, we can catch up with other leading boroughs.

But for this to happen these schemes need your support. So please contact your councillors to let them know that you support the plans. Take a few minutes to write to them about the urgency of this work. We have some tips to guide you here.

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