After the lockdown

The Covid-19 lockdown has added a whole new dimension to the closure of Hammersmith Bridge. Think about it: not much more than a year ago, we were quite used to solid traffic jams on the bridge and Castelnau (and the rest of London, of course), while we were steadily being crop-dusted with pollution from the planes going in to Heathrow.

Obviously, the Covid-19 pandemic has been tragic for many thousands of people, and I have no wish to make light of that. The UK now has the worst death rate in Europe, and yet already we are becoming quite used to the daily announcements of the latest toll. For those affected, it has been absolutely terrible.

However, we also became used to:

  • hardly any traffic on the roads
  • hardly any planes in the sky
  • much cleaner air
  • much clearer roads.

All of which are possibly unexpected side benefits of the lockdown. And it's not as if people haven't noticed: it has been a regular topic of conversation amongst people living around here.

But now the lockdown has been eased, the amount of traffic on the roads has returned to normal, and will probably get worse when schools go back. It's pretty clear that people are going to avoid going on public transport if they can - and unfortunately this means that plenty of them reach for the car keys as they set off on their journeys.

It doesn't take much thought to realise that this will be a complete disaster. The roads will be clogged with traffic, pollution levels will be off the scale and no-one will be getting anywhere.

The government has announced two billion pounds to help promote walking and cycling. That actually sounds like good news. A click on that link will take you to a page on gov.uk that explains how the money is to be spent:

  • largest ever boost for cyclists and pedestrians
  • emergency bike lanes and streets will help support transport network
  • trials of rental e-scooters to be brought forward to increase green transport options
  • government working with leading tech developers to reduce crowding on public transport

They actually sound like good ideas. So let's be positive, let's keep our fingers crossed: it may improve matters in London and the rest of the country for those of us who prefer not to use a car to get around.

But one thing is certain: it would be a tragedy if LBHF, TfL and others decided to re-open the bridge to cars.

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