If you view my latest video update above, I’m on the Uxbridge Road in Acton near Acton Park and you can see behind me some plastic wands that we’ve put in place to create a temporary cycle lane, that’s segregated from the rest of the traffic to make it safer for cyclists. And this is part of our emergency response to COVID-19.
We know that there is going to be significantly less capacity on our public transport, our buses and our Tubes and our trains, as we go forward and as more people go back to work; when more shops reopen; and high school students go back to work on the 15th of June. And, also we know that there’s significant concern about people spreading the virus if they don’t keep to the two-metre social distancing rule on public transport. Such that the government have changed their mind and decided, now, that it will be compulsory for people to wear face coverings on public transport.
Now, the ideal way to resolve this problem is for people to walk or cycle.
If those people that previously made their journeys on public transport jump in their cars, or try to cram on to public transport, we’re going to have two problems: One, the virus is going to keep spreading; and, secondly, we’re going to exacerbate the air quality problems that we’ve already had for many years. Nearly 10,000 people die prematurely in London because of poor air quality.
Now, one of the silver linings of COVID-19 has been the fact that the air quality has significantly improved with the reduction in cars on our roads.
And, as we’ve looked at our air monitoring stations across the borough during the COVID lockdown, on average there’s been a 25% reduction in Nitrogen Dioxide emissions as a result of that lower car use.
So, we’re really asking people to replace those public transport journeys with walking and cycling. And we’re trying to make it safer for everybody to cycle. There will be about 200 schemes that we are looking to put in. We’ve got some funding from both TfL, the Mayor and also the Department of Transport. There’s a cabinet report that we’ll publish in the next week, which will explain where these are and how we’re going to do this. But, as I say, it is part of our response to COVID-19. We are doing it under the emergency powers of COVID-19.
So, please don’t jump back in your cars. It will only add to the congestion and air pollution and not help us get out of this COVID-19 emergency that we’re in.
We want to have a green, healthy, active travel recovery. So, I’d really urge you to make those journeys, especially short journeys – and over 50% of journeys are actually less than three miles, we can walk or cycle – so I’d really urge people to get out on their bicycles and to walk as well.