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Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

Driving change: London moves to prioritize bikes and pedestrians over cars

The Streetspace program will restrict vehicles in the UK capital's largest business district on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time.

Cyclists and pedestrians are being given priority on one of the busiest traffic routes in central London – due to a new transport scheme in the wake of COVID-19.

The City of London, one of the English capital's main business districts, will become a "corridor" in the Streetspace program.

It means restrictions on cars will be in operation on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time, making it easier and safer for people to travel by bike or on foot.

The move is in response to a growing number of Londoners ditching their vehicles due to financial constraints, as well as a desire to exercise outdoors, following the closure of gyms during lockdown.

It is especially relevant as employers begin to call back staff following the end of COVID-19 restrictions.

Londoner Nabi Toktas says he has cut his travel costs by 90 percent. "I decided to cycle to work, because we have wider paths now, it's much safer and it's easier to cycle now... And, of course, the cost as well – because we have lost [a lot of] income."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also says the scheme will enable better social distancing and will also reduce pollution.

Experts believe other major cities are now thinking along similar lines.

Michael Neuman, who is professor of sustainable urbanism at the University of Westminster, told CGTN: "The avoided costs of the ravages of the pandemic, economic, health and otherwise, and also the current and especially the future costs of climate change – those costs will be much greater than spending on appropriate infrastructures to improve our cities, so they'll be resilient and sustainable well into the future."


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