New measures to improve safety and support social distancing on roads and pavements

Published: Monday, May 18, 2020

A range of measures will be rolled out across Wandsworth in the coming weeks and months to help keep pedestrians and cyclists safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The projects, designed to create more space so that people can more easily follow social distancing guidelines, include the potential closure of some roads, widening pavements and introducing ‘one way’ walking systems on others, improving cycling routes and fast tracking ‘school streets projects’ some of which have already been subject to public consultation.

Measures that will be explored, developed and delivered over the next few weeks and months are likely to include:

• Using barriers to widen footways and increase space for pedestrians, particularly outside shops and transport hubs; at bus stops where people queue; and to widen pedestrian refuges and crossings (both formal and informal) so that people can use them safely while maintaining the two-metre rule.

• Accelerating the next stages of detailed design work on previously approved schemes including comprehensive travel plans for Garratt Lane and Queenstown Road.

• Providing additional cycle parking facilities at key locations – like tube and rail stations and in high streets - to accommodate an increase in cycling.

• Stepping up ongoing lobbying efforts to persuade Transport for London to deliver similar measures on key sections of their red route network such as Tooting High Street, Upper Tooting Road and Balham High Road.

• Installing ‘pop-up’ cycle lane facilities and accelerating the delivery of contra-flow cycle lanes.

• Exploring options for the potential closure of some streets to vehicular traffic.

• Subject to the return of primary schools next month, bringing forward five ‘school streets’ projects previously consulted on as soon as is practicable.

• Further roll out of 20mph speed limits on the borough’s B roads and to also press TfL to lower speed limits on their strategic “red route” network of busy trunk roads. Wandsworth was one of the first councils in London to introduce a borough wide 20mph zone in 2017, covering virtually every residential road and which led to an almost immediate reduction in accidents.

• Reviewing the operating hours of bus lane hours across the borough and extending them to a 24/7 basis where possible to provide more space for those people, including keyworkers, who are cycling on main roads to access jobs and services or for their daily exercise.

• The establishment of a Rapid Response Team who can respond quickly and effectively to new ideas and suggestions on improving local travel arrangements.

The council’s transport spokesman Cllr Paul Ellis said: “We are exploring a whole range of measures to improve the different ways of travelling and in particular ensure that people can walk and cycle safely and more easily.

“We are fully committed to doing what we can in an imaginative and effective way to encourage people to adopt new forms of travel and supporting them to do so in the safest possible way.

"It’s action like this which will help us meet the far-reaching environmental targets we set last year to dramatically lower our carbon emissions to make us inner London’s greenest borough.

“We would also like to see a 20mph speed limit introduced without delay by TfL on all the borough’s major red route trunk roads like the Wandsworth one way system, Balham High Road, West Hill, Tooting High Street, Trinity Road and Battersea Park Road. It is on these busiest roads that lower speed limits are crucial if we are to encourage people to switch travel modes.”

Further updates will be provided to the council’s Strategic Planning and Transportation Overview and Scrutiny Committee when it meets on June 9.

The council has long supported 20mph speed limits on urban roads. Here's council deputy leader Cllr Jonathan Cook showing his support