One of London's busiest thoroughfares has been transformed to prioritise the safety and comfort of pedestrians and cyclists.
New temporary traffic restrictions throughout the corridor that connects Shoreditch to London Bridge were introduced on Monday 31 August in order to make cycling in the area less intimating, with wider pavements creating more space for those in on foot — a crucial addition during this period of social distancing.
It's all part of Transport for London's Streetspace plans, which aim to make moving around the capital safer and more accessible as the city emerges from the coronavirus lockdown. With commuters still advised to avoid the busiest public transport routes and rush-hour crushes in order to reduce the spread of the virus, such schemes look to give those on the go more options and thus avoid a sharp increase of car use.
Not only do more private vehicles on the road run the risk of trapping emergency services and essential delivery drives in gridlock, they also have worrying public health implications — as it is every single borough in London exceeding WHO limits for air toxicity.
Drivers don't despair, though. The restrictions apply only 7am-7pm each day, and during these hours general traffic (including taxis) will be able to access the corridor from side streets.
Buses are exempt from the restrictions, minimising journey times for passengers, which should be particularly welcome news for some of the 250,000 children who used the London bus network to get to school pre-pandemic and are beginning a new term.
Since May, Streetspace has introduced 50km of new or upgraded cycle infrastructure across London. Add to that 16,500 square metres of extra pavement space on the TfL network alone, plus a total of extra spaces to park your bike and the capital seems to be growing more environmentally-conscious than ever.
However, it's worth remember that these changes are only meant to be temporary. Whether such schemes will be prioritised in a post-COVID world remains to be seen.