By Sian Bayley, Local Democracy Reporter
Road closures, pavement widening and one-way walking systems are all being considered by Wandsworth council as part of its plans to help residents social distance during the coronavirus pandemic.
A range of measures will be rolled out across the borough in the coming weeks to create more space to help people keep their distance.
It comes after the chief executive of St George’s Hospital, Jacqueline Totterdell, wrote a letter to Wandsworth council leader Ravi Govindia last week offering to work with the council to create a walking and cycling network to reduce the risk of transmission and to support physical health.
A statement released by the council yesterday said it was “likely” residents would see barriers being used to widen footways and increase space for pedestrians, particularly outside shops and at bus stops where people queue.
There are also plans to provide more cycle parking facilities at Tube and railway stations, as well as in high streets to accommodate for an increase in cycling.
Subject to primary schools returning in June, the council also hopes to bring forward five of its ‘school streets’ projects to help reduce traffic outside schools and boost air quality levels.
The council says it will “step up ongoing lobbying efforts to persuade Transport for London to deliver similar measures on key sections of their red route network such as Tooting High Street, Upper Tooting Road and Balham High Road”.
Pop-up cycling lanes and some road closures for vehicles are also being considered.
The council’s transport spokesman, councillor Paul Ellis, said: “We are fully committed to doing what we can in an imaginative and effective way to encourage people to adopt new forms of travel and supporting them to do so in the safest possible way.
“It’s action like this which will help us meet the far-reaching environmental targets we set last year to dramatically lower our carbon emissions to make us inner London’s greenest borough.”
The council’s Labour group was quick to welcome the new plans.
Leader Simon Hogg tweeted: “Glad to see Wandsworth council is starting to put in place common sense changes to help local people live their lives in a safe and healthy way.”
However, a coalition of local campaign groups has called on the council to act faster.
A statement released by Wandsworth Cycling Campaign, Wandsworth Living Streets and Tooting Healthy Streets, said: “Pavements in town centres are overcrowded now.
“People are cycling and need safe streets to continue cycling now.
“Traffic is already on the rise as lockdown lifts and the window for reallocating road space is closing.
“We have submitted a petition of more than 1,000 signatories asking the council to act immediately and we’ll continue campaigning until we see meaningful change on our streets.”
The new plans will be discussed at the next Strategic Planning and Transportation Overview and Scrutiny Committee on June 9.
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