Two metres? We’re going to need a bigger pavement

Measures in Camden High Street and the Kilburn High Road don't go far enough, say campaigners

Sunday, 10th May 2020 — By Helen Chapman

CNJ-simonlamrock Image 2020-05-04 at 10.11.39 (1)

TfL sections off part of Camden High Street for pedestrians [Photo: Simon Lamrock]

CAMPAIGNERS are calling for temporary wider pavements to accommodate social distancing and provisions for pedestrians and cyclists during the coronavirus lockdown to be made permanent. Pavements in Camden High Street and the Kilburn High Road were extended as Transport for London (TfL) installed barriers fencing off parts of the street which are normally traffic lanes.

Agnes Peyser, from the Life in Kilburn community group, said: “With the lockdown, people should be a bit more ambitious. Traffic is given priority over pedestrians and it is time that should change.”

She urged TfL and local authorities to do more, adding: “Any improvement is welcome and we are getting there except they are not doing it along the whole road – it is not going to work. The measures cover Willesden Lane and West End Lane but ignores the top and the bottom of Kilburn High Road which leaves challenges.”

People are still likely to be required to keep a two-metre gap from others, even if lockdown measures are eased.

Ms Peyser said: “My personal thinking is that traffic on Kilburn High Road should be constrained. 70 per cent of people in Kilburn do not have a car. I would like to see more space given to pedestrians and cyclists and possibly remove all traffic except buses and emergency vehicles at certain times of the day.” The debate comes after a university study estimated that two-thirds of London’s pavements are not wide enough for people to observe the two metre distancing rule.

Dr Ashley Dhanani from the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL said: “While some may opt to walk in the road, this is not possible for people with pushchairs or with mobility impairments.” Under TfL’s new measures, space has been created between Mornington Crescent and Britannia Junction on Camden High Street. Temporary cycle lanes, meanwhile, are being introduced in Euston Road, where a 26-year-old cyclist died after a collision last month.

Campaigners want the new lay-outs to become permanent beyond the crisis.

Camden’s environment chief Labour councillor Adam Harrison said: “Camden Council is responding as quickly as we can to these safety concerns by delivering a series of temporary measures. “This includes looking at widening pavements and reducing through traffic on residential streets.” He added: “We are also looking at where we could introduce pop-up cycle lanes for the growing numbers of people wanting to travel round the borough by bicycle.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I urge the government and boroughs to work with us to enable Londoners to switch to cleaner, more sustainable forms of transport – and reduce the pressure on other parts of our transport network – once the lockdown is eased.”

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