Southwark is aiming to cut driving in the borough by 50 per cent compared to pre-lockdown levels, according to a report on its Streetspace plan.  

London boroughs have been bidding for funding from Transport for London’s Streetspace pot, which is for councils to carry out emergency transport measures to make it easier to social distance, walk, and cycle in the wake of Covid-19. 

Measures include widening pavements, creating cycle lanes, and introducing low traffic neighbourhoods and school streets by cutting some roads off from traffic. 

Southwark was awarded £1.3 million last month for 18 schemes, many of which have been implemented already.  

Lockdown led to a 90 per cent drop in driving across the borough.  

If Southwark maintains lower amounts of driving, the borough will see a sustained and significant improvement in the environment and many people’s quality of life

Introducing the report on the plans, set to be approved by cabinet next Tuesday (July 14), the cabinet member for environment, transport, and the climate emergency, Councillor Richard Livingstone, said it “sets out [the council’s] overarching aspiration to maintain 50 per cent less driving than before lockdown” and to speed up a “shift towards active travel”.  

“Covid-19 and the lockdown have shown that traffic can be significantly reduced and the benefits of cleaner, quieter and safer streets and neighbourhoods.  

“We already knew before the pandemic that we need to improve air quality to tackle the respiratory health of vulnerable people and communities who have experienced greater impacts from Covid19 and the lockdown.  

“If Southwark maintains lower amounts of driving, the borough will see a sustained and significant improvement in the environment and many people’s quality of life,” he said.  

The usual consultation on schemes was not possible because of the speed at which they need to be implemented as lockdown eases, but during the trial period people can comment on online platform Commonplace with their views and suggestions.  

The measures must be installed for a minimum of six months before the council can consider people’s views on whether to change, make permanent, or remove them.  

Changes to help social distancing, among others, include the pedestrianisation of between 1 Mermaid Court and Borough High Street, suspending parking bays between 1 and 5 Park Street, introducing one-way traffic from the junction of Ewer Street to Great Suffolk Street, and banning cars from Rye Lane between Hanover Park and Copeland Road.  

The low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) include Dulwich Village, previously part of Our Healthy Streets programme, Melbourne Grove South, Walworth, and Champion Hill.   

The first phase of school streets, where traffic is banned outside, includes Comber Grove, Goodrich, Rye Oak, and Camelot primary schools. 

The council will then assess all other schools in the borough for future changes. 

Depending on what is feasible, school streets will involve footway widening, any time or timed closures at peak times such as drop off and pick up. 

To improve cycling in the borough plans include, among others, segregated cycle lanes in Southwark Bridge Road and contraflow cycle lanes in Choumert Grove, Choumert Road, and McDermott Road, allowing cyclists to travel both ways. 

The council is also proposing an upgrade to the Cycle Superhighway 7.

Bermondsey Street is set to be closed to traffic between Whites Grounds and Tanner Street, while Peckham Rye east side, north of Nunhead Lane, will be converted in a road for buses and bikes only.