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Wandsworth Living Streets has joined with a number of Wandsworth community groups in a call for safe space to socially distance on local streets.
The Covd-19 lockdown has dramatically cut motor traffic and many people, including children, are walking and cycling for essential journeys and exercise. However, we are concerned that motoring still dominates and that extreme speeding is on the rise.
“We’re asking Wandsworth Council and Transport for London as a matter of urgency to enable everyone in our borough to safely walk or cycle,” says Susie Morrow, Chair of Wandsworth Living Streets.
“Local residents need this whether to get the exercise they require to stay healthy, or simply to get to work or for other essential journeys. Most of the borough’s pavements are too narrow to allow 2 metres of space between pedestrians, as the government is calling on us to do. And we’ve all seen many people having to step out onto the road for fear of being infected with Covid-19.
“On the plus side, it’s been great to see Wandsworth children playing outside and cycling with their family around local streets – a rare sight before this crisis. Other boroughs are now moving to protect people walking and cycling. Measures to do this, such as using bollards or barriers to widen pavements, will become increasingly vital as we emerge from lockdown, if we are to avoid a spike in car journeys and a return to high levels of air pollution across our own borough.”
Robert Molteno, a Wandsworth resident for over 40 years, adds, “I’m a grandfather. I feel we owe it to the kids, and their kids, to be helped to keep safe now, and not to go back to ‘traffic as normal’. Clean air, safe streets and less noise are precious things we Londoners must hold on to.”
These local community groups are urging the Council and Transport for London (TfL) to put certain measures in place, such as
- Allocating road space to temporarily widen pavements
- Establishing safe cycling lanes, and
- Installing planters and bollards to remove through traffic from residential streets, whilst maintaining access for residents, deliveries and emergency services.
“When lockdown starts to lift, social distancing will still be with us for a long time to come,” says Hilary Jennings of Tooting Healthy Streets. “People will not want to crowd onto public transport. We fear that cars will be used as social distancing tools. A car-based recovery would be a disaster, wrecking air quality – which has dramatically improved since lockdown – slowing movement of goods and essential services, and increasing road casualties.
“There should be no going back to congested streets. Air pollution is emerging as a key contributor to Covid-19 deaths and while we tackle this crisis, we must not forget the even greater challenge of the climate emergency.”
If you would like to see more details of the measures we community organisations are urging Wandsworth Council to consider taking urgently and as a follow-up when the lockdown is gradually wound down see Recommendations
The following community groups are involved in this campaign:
- Wandsworth Living Streets
- Wandsworth Cycling Campaign
- Tooting Healthy Streets
- Transition Town Tooting
- Extinction Rebellion Wandsworth
- The 10,000
- Wandsworth Environment Forum
- Mums for Lungs
- Friends of the Earth Wandsworth
- Balham and Tooting Community Association