Bradley also presented data on London’s controversial programme of installing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, with 80 still in place from the 100 created. ‘Really, what’s most exciting about low traffic neighbourhoods is what they do for place.’ Finally, Bradley said that it took crises to push Copenhagen and Amsterdam to adopt better cityscapes – oil and the economy, principally; perhaps London could emerge the better after Covid. ‘We have been through one almighty crisis, and this is actually something positive that can really come out of that’.
Rachel Aldred of the University of Westminster, meanwhile, showed data on LTNs both in Waltham Forest and across the capital generally that proved that they were not adversely affecting the emergency services in terms of access. But they also contribute to good placemaking. ‘These are schemes for areas’, Aldred said of the LTNs, ‘they’re not just a flagship route.’ More research and evaluations, however, are needed into LTNs and other interventions, Aldred added.
Over in the City, the period had represented ‘an opportunity to really rethink how our streets work’, said Bruce McVean of the authority’s response to Covid 19 and subsequent recovery, revealing an artist’s impression of how Bank Junction at Threadneedle Street will look with more vehicle restrictions and additional public space. Not only do we have to make physical changes to our streets, however; we must be ‘much more active in curating those spaces as well’.
Nina Patel of Transport for London presented key achievements and schemes completed across the year – such as 100km of trial cycling routes and 322 School Streets delivered across 23 boroughs. And, during discussion, Peter Heath of Atkins repeated the call for more data to help explain and communicate design changes. Rachel O’Donnell of AECOM agreed, saying we ‘are quite a way off fully articulating the environmental benefits of active travel’ and LTNs even if progress had been made in not returning to the car following lockdown, something that needed to be capitalised on. But Heath had a useful reminder for everyone when thinking about active travel issues.
‘Everyone who uses any kind of vehicle is also a pedestrian at some stage’, he said.