Streetspace for London - frequently asked questions

Closes 31 Dec 2020

Opened 1 Jul 2020

Overview

We are listening carefully to all of the feedback we are receiving about the temporary measures we are introducing to help London recover from the effects of the coronavirus. This page sets out our response to the issues that are being raised with us most frequently. If you have a question but it is not included, please send it to TfL Customer Services.

Click one of the questions below to take you to the corresponding response, or simply scroll down this page.  

What is the Streetspace programme?

Why is the Streetspace programme necessary?

How are you choosing where to introduce these measures?

Does anyone support these schemes?

Does TfL not agree that some journeys simply cannot be made on foot or with a bicycle?

Are these measures not just increasing congestion or rat-running?

Are these measures delaying the emergency services?

How are you monitoring the effects of these changes?

Will you make changes to these schemes once they have been implemented?

Why is it necessary to ban certain turns to traffic?

How can I make my usual journey with these restrictions in place?

Why are you removing parking or loading bays?

Do these measures not just make it harder for businesses to trade?

Why has there not been any consultation on these measures?

What is the process for introducing and reviewing a Streetspace scheme?

Is TfL coordinating with the London boroughs?

Why are you introducing Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes?

Are you discussing these temporary changes with older and disabled people’s organisations? 

Are Low Traffic Neighbourhoods not just pushing traffic elsewhere?

What will you do to ensure that these changes do not make it harder for those with accessibility issues to make essential journeys?  

What is the Streetspace programme?

We directly manage London's red routes. London’s boroughs manage the remainder of roads and make their own decisions about what changes might be necessary to them. On the red route network, we are taking action as quickly as possible to:  

  • Enable safe social distancing, including on public transport
  • Support increased walking and cycling
  • Avoid congestion levels across London rising if trips previously made by buses or trains were instead made by car

The Streetspace programme is necessary to facilitate social distancing in the interests of public safety, whilst also helping to avoid an increase in the number of journeys made by car in London. An increase in car use will lead to an increase in congestion, meaning deliveries, emergency services and other essential journeys get stuck in gridlock, harming our environment and economy.  

We are delivering Streetspace cycling and social distancing schemes on London’s red routes and we are working with London’s local authorities to deliver the programme on borough streets. Through this work, London’s boroughs are delivering local schemes to provide new cycling infrastructure, safe school streets and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.  

Why is the Streetspace programme necessary?

The measures we and the Boroughs are taking are an emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic. They are intended to help London’s neighbourhoods cope with the effects of the virus by facilitating social distancing in the interests of public safety.   

With social distancing requirements still in place, including on public transport, there is a significant risk that congestion levels across London would rise if trips previously made by buses or trains were instead made by car. The second key reason is that ‘active travel’ such as walking and cycling provide significant health and well-being benefits. There is a link for example between personal fitness and recovery from the coronavirus. An increase in trips made by car would also worsen the quality of our air and increase road casualties.  

If there were not some provision to help people who can do so to cycle (and while recognise that some trips simply cannot be made on foot or by bike there are a very significant number which can), the resulting increase in congestion would disrupt the emergency services, freight and servicing, and it would delay the buses that infirm or elderly people rely on.  

The coronavirus remains a significant threat to us all. We must all maintain practice safe social distancing and we need to avoid using the car for as many trips as possible, to avoid London’s roads becoming unmanageably congested. Two thirds of trips made by car in London are under five kilometres, and so could potentially be cycled in less than 20 minutes. Trips less than two kilometres could be walked in less than 25 minutes. We are finding that local car journeys, of a relatively short length are increasing across London.  This is a particular issue and the resulting congestion delays everyone, including essential users such as the emergency services.   

How are you choosing where to introduce these measures?

We are providing new temporary cycle lanes in those areas where our analysis has shown that there is the greatest potential for more people to cycle. We are providing temporary measures to help people to safely social distance only where pavements are narrow and there is the potential for lots of pedestrians to gather - for example, at busy high streets or transport interchanges. It will take a little time after the introduction of each new temporary scheme for the numbers of people cycling and walking to increase.  

Does anyone support these schemes?

The fundamental principle of Streetspace schemes aims to enable the public to follow Government guidance, including social distancing. The measures by which we deliver these improvements, through widened footways, new cycle infrastructure and reduced traffic in certain residential or school areas are a key part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and many of the boroughs’ local transport strategies. We know from feedback that there is support for these schemes, however we acknowledge that people have expressed a range of views which includes those who oppose specific interventions in their local area.  

Does TfL not agree that some journeys simply cannot be made on foot or with a bicycle?

Of course we do. We want to emphasise that the Streetspace programme is intended to help everyone who can do so to walk and cycle more often. We know and understand that there will be some people who cannot do so, however the Streetspace programme will offer benefits to them also. If we did not provide some people with the means to walk and cycle more often, there would be greater pressure on our road and public transport networks.  This would actively disadvantage everyone who needs a vehicle to travel because there would be greater congestion across London. It would also disadvantage people who rely on public transport, because there would be greater demand for buses and trains.  

Are these measures not just increasing congestion or rat-running?

We undertake assessments of the potential traffic flow impacts of the temporary changes we are introducing. Whenever a change is made to an existing road layout, there will always be a period of time after it has first been introduced in which traffic will need to adjust to the new layouts. We are confident that, after people have adjusted to the new layouts, there will be a neutral effect on traffic flow. We will however listen to local people, and will be monitoring the effects of the changes once they have been introduced. There is further information about our monitoring below.  

Are these measures delaying the emergency services?

We and London’s local authorities are working jointly with all of London’s emergency services. Each month, we and London’s boroughs meet with senior representatives from the emergency services to discuss the Streetspace programme and any issues that it may be causing. This gives the emergency services much greater awareness of the schemes we and London’s boroughs will be implementing over the coming months, and allows them to provide response time data, which we use to identify and adjust any schemes which might be causing an issue.

As London continues to recover from the effects of the coronavirus, any increase in car use will lead to an increase in congestion on London’s roads which would have a detrimental impact on the vital work undertaken by the emergency services. 

How are you monitoring the effects of these changes?

We are directly monitoring those schemes which we believe might have the greatest effect on the red route network, or which might potentially provide the greatest benefits to the traveling public. We are monitoring the following effects, where appropriate to each scheme:  

  • Impacts on roads safety, including effects on the levels of pedestrian crowding where we have introduced measures to assist people to practice safe social distancing
  • Congestion impacts, including effects on local bus services and traffic flow more generally
  • Equality impacts, for example by assessing any impacts these measures might be having on people protected under the Equality Act 2010
  • Impacts of cycling levels in the vicinity of those schemes being introduced to assist and encourage people to cycle more often
  • Feedback from local people, businesses and other stakeholders  

We hope that many of the measures we are now introducing could become permanent additions to London’s cycling and walking networks. We will take the factors described above into account in considering, on a scheme-by-scheme basis, whether the temporary schemes should be retained permanently. If we decide we want to make a particular scheme permanent, we will run a statutory consultation which would be a further opportunity to give us your views.  

Will you make changes to these schemes once they have been implemented?

Where changes are identified as being required, yes. We are working faster than ever, with our borough partners, to design and implement Streetspace schemes as quickly as possible. As a result, sometimes schemes will need to be adapted once they are in place. Feedback from local people and other stakeholders and our ongoing monitoring help us to understand where changes might be needed, and what changes are required.  

Why is it necessary to ban certain turns to traffic?

In each case, the temporary changes we introduce in a particular area are intended to address a set of issues specific to that area.   

In many cases, we are temporarily restricting turns because a large proportion of collisions in London in which people walking or cycling are injured or killed involve traffic turning right or left at junctions.   

By restricting certain movements temporarily, we can greatly reduce the potential for collisions and help people to feel safer.   

How can I make my usual journey with these restrictions in place?

Some people have asked us how they can make certain journeys by vehicle while the temporary restrictions are in place. In every case, we have ensured there is still vehicular access to properties. This may sometimes mean a longer route than people would usually take or expect.  

We are not able to provide specific advice about how a person should make a particular journey by car; the circumstances obviously will differ in every case.   

Why are you removing parking or loading bays?

We temporarily remove parking and loading bays only where absolutely required to provide more room for people to safely social distance, or to help people to cycle more easily or safely. Wherever possible, we introduce new temporary parking bays on side roads. As much as we possibly can, we plan the temporary schemes so that some provision for loading or unloading is available as close as possible to local businesses. At the same time, it simply isn’t possible for us to provide parking or loading bays in close vicinity to every business in London.   

Do these measures not just make it harder for businesses to trade?

We know that people who walk, cycle or use public transport shop more often than those who drive, and they spend up to 40% more in high streets and town centres than those who drive there. For businesses who rely on making or taking deliveries, it is important that traffic is as free-flowing as possible.  The Streetspace programme will help encourage everyone who can do so to walk or cycle, as an alternative to using the car. If we were not to help people to avoid private transport as much as possible, there would be an unmanageable increase in congestion across London. This would be highly disruptive, including to the emergency services and businesses who rely on deliveries, and would increase pollution, which contributes to thousands of premature deaths.   

Why has there not been any consultation on these measures?

The Government has requested that Highway Authorities across the country quickly introduce measures to help people socially distance, enabling them to walk and cycle more often, helping our neighbourhoods recover from the effects of the coronavirus. The Streetspace programme is an emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic; there just isn’t the time or scope to conduct a full in-depth public consultation on each of the measures we are introducing.

We know that this isn’t what you’ve come to expect from us. However, we are listening closely to any concerns local people or other stakeholders have; if a person raises an issue and we think that we need to take action to address it, we will do so. We have established a dedicated email address: streetspacelondon@tfl.gov.uk so that people can tell us their views of the temporary measures we and London’s boroughs are introducing. We will keep our website updated with the latest information and we will write to people who contact us periodically, to demonstrate that we are listening.   

What is the process for introducing and reviewing a Streetspace scheme?

There are five steps to the process, as follow:  

  1. A temporary scheme is introduced to help people to walk and cycle more often, or to help people safely social distance
  2. We talk to local people and other stakeholders about the scheme in advance of it being introduced. We also monitor the scheme once it is in place, including in terms of its effect on traffic flow and cycling rates
  3. Where we identify an issue with a temporary scheme, either through our own monitoring or through our engagement with local people, we fix it with a change to the scheme
  4. From the end of this year, we will begin to review each temporary scheme to decide whether or not to make it a permanent addition to London’s walking and cycling network. We’ll consider all the monitoring data we have collected, and the feedback we have received from local people
  5. If we believe that a scheme should remain permanently, we will hold a statutory consultation so that we can hear the views of stakeholders before making a final decision. We will talk to local people and other stakeholders about our decisions  

Is TfL coordinating with the London boroughs?

Yes. We work closely with London’s local authorities to develop and agree the temporary measures we are introducing. This enables us to fully coordinate our activities. 

Why are you introducing Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes?

In fact, it is London’s boroughs rather than TfL who are introducing a number of schemes to reduce through-traffic in quiet residential areas. Comments or concerns about these schemes should be sent to the relevant local authority. Alternatively, we and many of London’s boroughs have worked with Sustrans to produce a map which shows all of the schemes across London which have been introduced through the Streetspace programme.  The map includes a survey, and the comments recorded through it will be automatically sent to the correct authority. The map and survey is available at: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/streetspace-for-london/ 

Are you discussing these temporary changes with older and disabled people’s organisations?

Yes. We are engaging with organisations representing people with specific accessibility requirements to understand their views on the changes delivered so far. In July 2020 we hosted a series of working groups with representatives from Accessibility groups, including Transport for All, Disability Rights UK, Inclusion London, SCOPE and Royal National Institute of Blind People.  
  
While boroughs are responsible for designing schemes on their roads, we have issued guidance to support them in this, including a section on equalities, accessibility, security and inclusion.  

Are Low Traffic Neighbourhoods not just pushing traffic elsewhere?

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are created in order to reduce through traffic or ‘rat-running’ on local streets to make them safer for people to walk and cycle. Evidence from previous LTNs* shows that the improved environment for walking and cycling supports people to reduce their car use, and increase their levels of walking and cycling, which will have benefits for those living outside the LTN as well.  However as with all changes we make to the transport network, it takes time for people to adjust to new road layouts. Where Low Traffic Neighbourhoods have already been introduced in London, evidence shows people adjust their routes, the times they travel and the way they travel. Therefore increases in congestion are unlikely to be permanent. Traffic levels and patterns are also changing for other reasons, often in response to new advice as part of our response to the pandemic, and will not necessarily be as a result of LTNs. 

We cannot know the true traffic impacts until these schemes have been in place for a while, which is why we are paying close attention to changes in traffic levels and bus journey times in and around the trial schemes, and comparing them with changes in areas where LTNs have not been introduced. In some cases, we, together with the boroughs, may make changes to help traffic adjust, including changing traffic signal timings or adding more signage.

In addition to LTNs the London Streetspace Plan is also making more space for people to walk, cycle and use public transport on London’s main roads, and has delivered over 80km of new or upgraded cycle infrastructure; 86km of 24/7 bus lanes; 2,259 signal timing changes to prioritise walking as well as reallocating over 22,000sqm of highway space to pedestrians. Sitting alongside the Streetspace for London programme is the longer-term Mayor’s Transport Strategy, which includes a range of initiatives to reduce the impacts of traffic more generally. This includes the Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eradicate deaths and serious injuries on our roads as well as the extension of the Ultra Low Emission Zone to the North and South Circular Roads in order to improve air quality. 

*Professor Rachel Aldred and Dr Anna Goodman from the University of Westminster analysed three years’ worth of data to understand the impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods with the Mini-Hollands programme. Their research showed there was a consistent reduction in car ownership and/or use and higher levels of active travel, suggesting people are swapping their car trips for healthier, cleaner and safer choices, such as walking or cycling’.  Reference: Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Car Use, and Active Travel: Evidence from the People and Places Survey of Outer London Active Travel Interventions

What will you do to ensure that these changes do not make it harder for those with accessibility issues to make essential journeys?

We believe that the Streetspace programme would help older and disabled people to get around. By encouraging people who can do so to walk and cycle more often we can:  

  1. Reduce pressure on our public transport networks, where social distancing requirements are still in place. This would mean that buses and trains would be more easily available to people who cannot walk and cycle
  2. Reduce the number of trips made in London by car. Congestion levels across London would rise if trips previously made by buses or trains were instead made by car. This would delay not only buses, taxis and other public transport services such as Dial-a-Ride; but also the emergency services and freight and servicing trips
  3. In some cases it is necessary to relocate some disabled parking bays to make it possible to provide facilities to encourage people to cycle. We locate these bays to nearby side streets, where there would naturally be less traffic so that it is safer for older and disabled people 

Areas

  • All Areas

Audiences

  • Anyone from any background

Interests

  • Traffic Management
  • Cycling
  • Walking