9 June 2020

TfL Will Work With The Taxi Industry When Designing New London Streetspace

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, along with Transport for London (TfL), have unveiled a bold new scheme to transform London’s streets to accommodate a potential rise in bike riders and pedestrians as the city slowly starts to emerge from lockdown.

With London’s transport system potentially only running at a fraction of what it used to before Covid-19, this could increase the risk of crowding on buses and trains, as well as a rise in the number of cars being used throughout the city as people travel to work. Such a change could grind London to a halt, and heighten the risk of road dangers.

To prevent this, TfL are planning to repurpose London’s streets for the increasing demand for walking and cycling. This scheme includes the temporary transformation of many of London’s major roads into new cycleways. The city’s pavements will also be widened to help encourage social distancing.

Working with London’s boroughs to make these changes, TfL plans to focus on these key areas:

  • ★The rapid construction of a strategic cycling network. Using temporary materials, including new routes aimed at reducing crowding on Underground and train lines, and on busy bus corridors.
  • ★A complete transformation of local town centres to enable local journeys to be safely walked and cycled where possible. Wider footways on high streets will facilitate a local economic recovery. This will include more space to queue for shops, as well as space for others to safely walk past while socially distancing.
  • ★Reducing traffic on residential streets, creating low-traffic neighbourhoods right across London to enable more people to walk and cycle as part of their daily routine, as has happened during lockdown.

However, many taxi drivers across London have expressed concerns over these new measures. Arguing how restricting busy roads could affect the London taxi industry. The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) have contacted several figures in the city, including the mayor and deputy, to discuss whether or not taxi drivers will be granted any special access during these road closures.

TfL have commented that they’re looking into allowing Zero Emission Capable taxis access to restricted roads. Such roads include London Bridge and Waterloo Bridge. However, there are currently only 3400 of these taxis currently running within the city. Taxi representatives are arguing that all 19,000 purpose built and partitioned taxis should be given the right to access restricted roads.

Disability Concerns

London’s disabled population have also expressed their concerns over the new plans. Relying on taxis to get to work, there are fears they could be left out under this new scheme.

Broadcaster, public speaker and disability campaigner Samantha Renke, took to social media to voice her feelings.

“If a taxi can’t pick me up from my street, I won’t be going to work paying taxes. Isn’t that what everyone wants disabled people to do, pay taxes instead of being a ‘burden’ on society?”

Renke added further worries in an additional tweet. “Black cabs are one of the only ways I can travel independently, safely and maintain my authority. I’m not the only disabled person.”

A TfL spokesman has gotten in touch with TaxiPoint, “We are looking at whether zero emission capable taxis could have access to the new zones for pedestrians, cyclists and buses.”

“We will work with the trade as part of the detailed design of the schemes, and will provide more detail on proposed vehicle access in due course. Individual boroughs will decide access to their roads.”

If the London taxi industry is denied road access, taxi fares may increase across the city. Metered journeys could be much longer than usual.

A spokesperson from TfL told TaxiPoint: “TfL will undertake an equality impact assessment on taxi access, which will inform the final decision. The plans are being developed so that accessibility to these areas is maintained.”

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