Merton council’s transport plan to meet the challenges the Coronavirus pandemic has brought, help the borough recover safely and secure long-term environmental and health benefits, has been published.
Merton’s Active & Healthy Travel Response to Covid-19 plan is set to be endorsed by Merton’s Cabinet on this evening. The plan takes into account the valued input from residents and groups, who have contributed hundreds of ideas and suggestions for projects across the borough.
The emergency plan aims to provide more space for residents to take journeys safely by foot or bike as businesses and schools reopen. It aims to ensure social distancing is maintained on public transport to control the spread of the virus, as more people return to work and everyday activities. As the borough recovers the council wants to avoid a huge rise in car driving which will increase air pollution and lead to gridlock.
Pop-up cycle lanes and pavement widening schemes are being installed across the borough to help residents maintain social distancing and to improve road safety. Pavements are being extended into the road at some of the busiest parts of the borough such as town centres and local shopping parades, to help support local businesses as they begin to reopen today
Longer term proposals to support a major shift of road use towards walking and cycling throughout the borough include strategic cycle routes and low traffic neighbourhoods. Bids are being submitted to the Department for Transport(DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) and the delivery of the long term plans depend upon the success of these.
Work has already been completed for a one-way pedestrian route on Ashcombe Bridge Road, in Wimbledon and for the pavement widening scheme on Wimbledon Bridge. Works were carried out last week to create a segregated cycle lane on both sides of Haydons Bridge Road in Wimbledon.
Schemes to widen the pavements along Merton High Street, Mitcham Fair Green, Worple Road in Wimbledon and Wimbledon Village are to be actioned this month.
The emergency works scheduled up until the end of July include segregated cycle lanes in London Road in Mitcham, Merton High Street as well as Bushey Road and Plough Lane, both in Wimbledon. Work is also to be actioned to create more secured and standard cycle parking by stations throughout July and August to meet the demand.
The Cabinet member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport, Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “Our emergency transport response to Covid 19 puts in place measures to encourage people to undertake active travel by walking or cycling instead of using their cars. We are reusing road space as we want to make it safer and easier for residents to take more journeys by foot or bike
“The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed how we live our lives, and it is vital that we continue to maintain social distancing while travelling around as businesses and retail in Merton reopen. It has also enabled us to create a unique opportunity to build upon our work to improve air quality and promote healthy active travel in Merton.”
“We would like to thank all the residents, groups and organisations who contributed feedback on our transport plans. We received over 300 suggestions which helped shape our plans for our emergency works and our funding bids to take account of unprecedented demand for walking and cycling.”
The priorities for the funding bids, which are to be submitted on Friday 19 June, are:
- Speedily building a strategic cycling network, making the temporary measures permanent and including new routes to reduce crowding on the underground and buses.
- Changing town centres so local journeys can be safely walked and cycled where possible.
- Reducing traffic on residential streets and creating low-traffic corridors so more people can walk and cycle as part of their daily routine.
The estimated cost of delivering the program for the next 6 months is £490,000. It is proposed that this is funded initially from the council’s existing highway budget, pending further funding from TFL, DFT or Community Infrastructure Levy.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
TFL have launched the London Streetspace plan to radically overhaul London’s streets to accommodate a possible ten-fold increase in cycling and five fold increase in walking as lockdown eases.
London’s public transport capacity is to potentially run at a fifth of pre-Covid-19 levels,