Majority of Londoners support measures to give cyclists and pedestrians most space

The majority of Londoners support moves by the Mayor, Transport for London and local councils to give more space to pedestrians and cyclists, a new poll on behalf of Centre for London and London Environment Directors’ Network (LEDNet) has found.

The polling was commissioned by Centre for London to explore Londoners’ changing attitudes to travel during the crisis, and the potential impacts on the city’s transport network once lockdown is over.

The survey found that most London adults support new transport policies, including measures to support social distancing:

– 69% of Londoners support the temporary widening of pavements to aid social distancing
– 64% of Londoners support the temporary provision of new cycle lanes, or wider existing cycle lanes, to aid social distancing
– 59% of Londoners support the temporary closure of roads and parking to accommodate walking, cycling and space for queues

The survey also asked Londoners how their travel behaviour has changed and, in particular, how they anticipate these habits would change under three scenarios: if lockdown were completely over in three months, six months or one year.

Seven in ten London adults say they are using the tube or rail (71%) or the bus (68%) less since the start of lockdown. Even in the most optimistic three-month scenario, 49% of respondents who provided an answer say they expect to use the tube less than before the crisis and 48% for taxis and ride-hailing. This drops to 44% for buses.

About a third of Londoners who provided an answer said they will cycle more after lockdown across all scenarios, compared to their pre-crisis habits. This rises to almost half (46%) for walking, running and cycling altogether. At the same time, between a quarter and a third of Londoners who provided an answer also expect to use their cars more in the future across the three scenarios tested. However, 69% of respondents also support the temporary suspension of parking charges.

Rob Whitehead, director of strategic projects, Centre for London, said: “This crisis is upending much of what we knew and assumed about Londoners and transport. Londoners back many of the changes that the Mayor, Transport for London and local councils are pursuing to adapt.

“The concern is that we may be witnessing an epochal shift against public transport with ominous longer-term implications. Whilst lockdown has encouraged many to try walking and cycling to get to work and exercise, it looks equally as likely to nudge Londoners to return to their cars. Without bold thinking and innovation, London could be heading for a new era of gridlock on our roads.”

Dan Jones, chair of LEDNet, added: “There have been huge positives for the fight against climate change born out of lockdown thanks to people making greener travel choices. The support shown by Londoners for initiatives to increase walking and cycling will be extremely beneficial to London’s environmental future. We want to ensure these decisions become habits as we enter the next stage of the pandemic and London’s recovery.

“As we begin to emerge from lockdown, there is concern that many people will choose to drive instead of using public transport, adding to London’s high congestion and air pollution. We must take this opportunity to present green alternatives to reduce the number of cars on the road and carbon emissions. It is imperative we listen to Londoners and that we do not ignore this significant moment in time and grasp this unique opportunity to tackle the climate emergency.”

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