This page holds information about the major changes made in Camden in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly those that related to Active Travel, as of late 2021. We supported all of these and campaigned hard on some, especially when it became clear that there was strong, coordinated opposition to the measures. This page includes useful links and updates plus the progress of the campaign to re-allocate street-space so that people can walk and cycle safely while maintaining social distancing. We tracked progress here. More recent changes can be found on our News page and an up to date summary of cycle routes is here.
Everything that Camden did was consistent with their Transport Strategy. Camden’s officers and councillors worked incredibly hard to put in these measures and to take maximum advantage of funds and direction from Government and TfL.
The need for space for safe cycling expanded dramatically when restrictions on travelling and working were lifted. TfL have undertaken modelling suggesting that cycling could grow up to tenfold with the provision of temporary cycle lanes. Cycling now exceeds pre-Covid levels.
1. Progress on re-allocation of street space (most recent first)
- Pop-up cycle lanes on Haverstock Hill between Prince of Wales Road and Belsize Avenue northbound and from Rowland Street southbound (near completion as of July 2022).
- The Low Traffic Neighbourhood in the Hartland Road area was extended to include Harmood Street.
- The southbound “pop-up” cycle lane on St Pancras Way is complete.
- Camden’s first sizeable new Low Traffic Neighbourhood, west of Camden High Street, is in place and has recently been upgraded to close a rat-run.
- Eleven more Healthy School Streets have been announced (five are complete, six are out for consultation). This makes a total of sixteen streets covering seventeen schools.
- Work is complete on pop-up cycle lanes in the north section of York Way and junction improvements are being consulted on.
- More “pop-up” cycle lanes, this time on Chalk Farm Road, have been built.
- Seven Dials has been pedestrianised. This involves a timed closure (10-6 every day) of most of the streets in the area, with a longer closure (7-7 Mon-Sat) of Earlham Street and a full closure at the south end of Monmouth Street. This scheme is now being extended into Westminster.
- The Grays Inn Road cycle tracks scheme was agreed on 22nd June 2020. Traffic Orders were published on September 17th and construction is now complete.
- “Pop-up” cycle lanes on Prince of Wales Road and York Way have now been installed. Pop-up cycle lanes have already been installed in Goodsway between Pancras Road and Kings Boulevard (22 May 2020, details, photo) and on Lidlington Place, Harrington Square and Hampstead Road (15 June, photos). But TfL decided to remove the westbound cycle lane on the Euston Road and are currently planning to remove the eastbound lane as well.
- Another tranche of measures (phase 2) including motor traffic reduction using point closures and more Healthy School Streets was formally approved on 5 June 2020. Our summary is here. Measures to widen footways and remove parking were approved on the 3rd.
- A large network of further measures has been proposed as shown in this map (click here for full scale, or here to view overlaid on an interactive street map (use the slider to change opacity)):
- The first tranche of measures (phase 1) was formally approved on 13 May 2020 and the work has now been completed. This page shows the resulting improvements for cycling with maps and photos. They include four rat-run elimination schemes using point closures on Constantine Road/Savernake Road, Sandall Road, Clarence Way and Hartland Road and Wilmot Place. More details including Camden’s reasons for them can be accessed via our Consultations page. Each includes this wording:
We know that there is an immediate need for this safety improvement in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) so we are using Experimental Traffic Orders which once made can be brought into force relatively quickly.
The experimental scheme will run for 18 months and you are able to comment at any time on the changes we have implemented. The Council would like to carry out a full public consultation after the experimental scheme has run for 12 months and will take a decision as to whether it can do this nearer the time in light of the circumstances then prevailing.
- Third and subsequent tranches are in preparation involving further point closures moving towards the creation of many Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Camden and the construction of some of the pop-up cycle lanes shown on the above-mentioned map. See Camden’s website for details of other measures that have been approved to date.
- Other work has also been completed including:
- Railings removed in Kentish Town High Street outside Lidl. Photo before and after.
- Pavements widened in Kilburn High Road. See details. Photo. Photo.
- Additional temporary walking space on Camden High Street (TfL)
- Pavement widening on Kentish Town Road, Hampstead High Street, Chetwynd Road, Millfield Lane and Well Walk
2. Our initial detailed list of specific issues relating to re-allocation of street space was identified by members and sent to councillor Harrison and senior officers on 29th April 2020.
Then on May 22nd, in response to TfL’s published guidance to councils, we sent our list of priority schemes in 4 categories: Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Interventions on Major Roads, Routes to Schools and School Streets (measures outside schools). You can see our letter here and our document linking our previous study on Safe Routes to Schools to Camden’s list of interventions here.
Camden set up a Commonplace map and website to collect suggestions. When it closed to new comments on June 28th the map had more than 1500 comments. You can see a summary of where these are concentrated here.
3. Joint CCC and LLS letter to Camden Council (23rd April 2020) in support of officers’ work to re-allocate carriageway space from motor vehicles to walking and cycling:
To Georgia Gould, Leader Camden Council
Copies to Councillors Adam Harrison, Party Leaders Oliver Cooper, Sian Berry, Flick Rea and Cabinet Members
Re-allocating Road Space During and after Covid-19 Emergency
This joint letter from Camden Cycling Campaign and London Living Streets (Camden) is in support of officers’ work to re-allocate carriageway space from motor vehicles to walking and cycling. We urge you to do whatever it takes, politically and legally, to make this happen.
We think that measures are urgently needed now but will become even more important as and when restrictions are lifted. These measures should include removal of railings and street clutter; bans on parking and loading so that road space can be coned off for use by pedestrians and possibly cyclists; temporary walking and cycling lanes; retiming of pedestrian crossings and traffic intersections; closure of residential streets to through motor traffic.
In the longer term we note that:
Everyone appreciates the much cleaner air we are seeing and will want to keep it that way and lock in some of the widely-appreciated environmental benefits of the lockdown.
As the restrictions are lifted people will want to stay off public transport as much as possible. We are afraid that this may result in a large increase in the use of private cars as has already been witnessed in Wuhan (see Related Link 8). So we need to maintain the current increased opportunities to walk and cycle safely on main roads and residential streets.
Recreational walking and cycling for exercise have grown substantially during the lockdown, and it has been a joy to see so many people enjoying streets no longer dominated by motor traffic, including young families on bikes. We can lock-in some of that activity if we can maintain the protected space.
Specific Concerns and Suggestions
Current low levels of motor traffic on Camden’s roads present a unique opportunity and we believe that measures are urgently needed for the following reasons (these echo many of the points made in London Living Streets’ paper: ‘Rethinking our streets: urgent policy responses to Covid-19’ (See https://bit.ly/2KrCrxD or link 1 below).
1. Space for Pedestrians on Shopping Streets
Maintaining a 2m gap when walking (and even sometimes when cycling) in high streets is currently very awkward or impossible due to congestion on footways. Social separation is likely to be one of the last restrictions to be lifted so this issue will be with us for a long time.
2. Safe Crossings and Intersections
Reducing ‘wait time’ at busier crossings would reduce the build-up of people waiting at the crossing (both pedestrians and cyclists), enabling safe social distancing to be maintained. Wherever possible, operating signalised crossings with automatic pedestrian phases so that the ‘call’ button does not need to be pressed would reduce risk of Covid-19 transmission. We appreciate that this is a matter for TFL, but we urge Camden to continue to press on this issue.
3. Safe Space on Main Roads
The lockdown has brought about a boom in the use of bikes for travel, including for children. New safe space on main roads – temporary in the first instance – will enable more people to use cycling as a first choice for their urban journeys.
4. Making Residential Streets Safe for Recreation
There is a very notable increase in cycling and walking for exercise, including by family groups, often walking to parks. This should be encouraged and maintained by reclaiming the space that has been released as result of the removal of most commuting journeys in cars and closing streets to through motor traffic.
What we are doing
We are approaching our members and contacts for specific examples of where (a) there are demonstrable problems, such as overcrowded pavements, motor vehicle/pedestrian interactions and/or speeding traffic and (b) there is local desire for short- and/or medium-term changes. We will collate and pass these to officers, specifically Sam Margolis and his team.
We attach some relevant links.
Coordinator, Camden Cycling Campaign
London Living Streets
- London Living Streets: ‘Rethinking our streets: urgent policy responses to Covid-19’
- Coronavirus: ‘Nature is sending us a message’, says UN environment chief | The Guardian, 25 March 2020
- Transport in the time of the Coronavirus crisis: what we need to do NOW. | Road Danger Reduction Forum, 11 April 2020
- The Ranty Highwayman: It’s The Least They Could Do, 18 April 2020 https://therantyhighwayman.blogspot.com/2020/04/its-least-they-could-do.html
- Coronavirus: Banning cars made easier to aid social distancing – BBC News, 20 April 2020 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52353942
- Milan announces ambitious scheme to reduce car use after lockdown | World news | The Guardian, 21 April 2020 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/21/milan-seeks-to-prevent-post-crisis-return-of-traffic-pollution
- Paris To Create 650 Kilometers Of Pop-Up Corona Cycleways For Post-Lockdown Travel | Carlton Reid, Forbes Magazine, 22 April 2020.
- Wuhan data (tweeted by Chris Boardman): https://www.ilfoglio.it/userUpload/RMEPianodiazionemobiliturbanapostcovid.pdf