Covid-19 has caused major disruption and change to almost every part of our lives in Lambeth, and travel and transport is no exception. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, space on London’s public transport has been reduced by as much as 80% to maintain social distancing, meaning millions of journeys everyday which need to be made in some other way.
Most people in Lambeth do not own a car and now need to walk, including with mobility aids, cycle, including use of adapted cycles, or scoot, instead of taking a bus or tube. If the people in Lambeth and further afield who do own a car now start to use it more frequently, we risk our roads grinding to a halt, with toxic air quality and more injuries and deaths caused by accidents on the road. Disabled people in particular may be deterred from using public transport due to capacity constraints and the need to socially distance, and also from walking and cycling due to increased road danger.
Starting in May 2020, the Council responded to this transport crisis with an emergency transport response plan. The plan built on our existing Lambeth Transport Strategy, released following borough-wide consultation in 2019. The Strategy identified the parts of the borough which were most in need of new measures to reduce road danger and increase sustainable travel. The ideas we agreed included low-traffic neighbourhoods, school streets and improved walking and cycling infrastructure.
These measures reflect statutory guidance issued by the Government in response to Covid-19, requiring us to re-allocate road space to support more walking and cycling. We have used the evidence base, planning and learning from our Transport Strategy to inform our emergency response, together with specific Covid-19 considerations, such as the need for social distancing and the impact on public transport capacity.
As well as consulting widely on the Transport Strategy, we had already carried out significant engagement with local communities in several of our LTN areas, including in Brixton and Streatham, and have now implemented schemes in five neighbourhoods. We have engaged with local stakeholders and businesses wherever possible prior to implementation. Emergency Services have been consulted on every measure and our designs specifically take account of their needs. This engagement process has led to carefully considered measures being implemented, but we have had to move quickly, and we know that we will not get everything right first time. We will carry out further public consultation before considering whether trial schemes should be made permanent or not.
Now that many of our temporary low-traffic neighbourhoods, school streets and other emergency schemes are in place, the emergency transport programme is entering the next phase as we move schemes to a trial basis. We will work closely with the local community to make improvements based on data and feedback. Our Monitoring Strategy is an important part of this. It sets out how we measure the impact of the projects that we have introduced so that we have the right data to make improvements and inform the choices we make.