Lewisham Council is asking people which areas need more space for walkers and cyclists so they can socially distance safely.  

Changes will include widening pavements, pop-up cycle lanes, and adding barriers to close off streets to through-traffic.  

To kick off the walking and cycling strategy, Lewisham announced it would widen pavements in Deptford High Street and Luxmore Street this week.  

The council is also considering areas in Sydenham, Forest Hill, Catford, Lee, Hither Green, Brockley, and Blackheath. 

As well as improving safety, the move is a bid to improve air quality during and after the coronavirus outbreak after nitrogen dioxide concentrations fell between 19 and 31 per cent compared to this time last year.  

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Lambeth Council widened pavements in Herne Hill with barriers

According to the council, traffic and illegal parking along Deptford High Street is making it difficult for pedestrians to socially distance and dangerous when they are forced into the road.  

To widen the pavement, council workers will put temporary barriers on the east side of Deptford High Street, between Giffin Street and Deptford Broadway. 

Barriers will also be placed on the west side of the high street between Giffin Street and Deptford Station.  

Parking will be suspended on one side of Luxmore Street to allow more space for pedestrians visiting Luxmore Gardens, while cars will be stopped from parking on top of the pavement on the other side.  

Residents can comment, make suggestions for other areas, and say whether they want the schemes to be permanent or not – at the time of writing everyone who commented on the first two proposals backed keeping them for good.  

The council also announced that for four weeks from May 18, Deptford High Street will be blocked to traffic at the junction with Deptford Broadway for planned gas pipe works.  

However, gates on Reginald Road and Frankham Road will be left open at all times to allow for delivery access.  

Cllr Sophie McGeevor said: “Fewer than half of households in Lewisham owns a car, and these measures will help reclaim our public space and roads for the majority.  

“We want residents to tell us which measures they would like to see introduced in their local area to boost walking and cycling.   

“The benefits of this work are enormous: from the improved air quality, to the health benefits of a more active population, safer roads and streets, as well as the reduction in carbon emissions that will support our climate emergency action plan.  

“These actions show our commitment to helping people stay safe by socially distancing while supporting people to protect the environment as well.” 

Mayor Damien Egan said: “During lockdown air quality has improved substantially across Lewisham.  

“Nitrogen dioxide concentrations are between 19 to 31 per cent lower compared to this time last year.  

“We know that air pollution, like the coronavirus, disproportionately affects BAME communities.  

“Therefore, it is vital we continue to improve air quality for all of our residents and reduce health inequalities. 

“We know this improvement in air quality has been because people are making fewer car journeys and are walking and cycling more during the lockdown.  

“Introducing these measures will help people to make these changes permanent, continue to improve air quality and also support our local businesses by encouraging people to shop local as and when the economy starts to re-open.”  

The council also plans to “significantly” expand the school streets programme and introduce more than 30 modal filters to stop rat-running in residential streets. 

The school streets programme involves closing roads outside schools at start and finish times to encourage parents and children to walk and cycle.