COVID – 19 make safe space to socially distance on Merton’s Streets

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We call on Merton Council, Merton Councillors, MPs and Transport for London to urgently ensure that Merton residents can walk and cycle safely to work and school as lockdown lifts.

Government advice is to avoid public transport where possible and public transport capacity is expected to be down 85-90%.

Before Covid-19, 130,000 journeys were made on public transport every day in Merton. Massive and urgent action is required to prevent these becoming car journeys instead.

Merton already suffers traffic congestion, which has resulted in significant air pollution, road safety issues and carbon emissions. Without urgent and substantive action, these will escalate further, as they did in Wuhan post-lockdown. That would become a vicious cycle. Increased road traffic would make it even riskier than it currently is to cycle or walk, forcing more residents into their cars to travel safely.

We therefore call on Merton Council, Councillors and MPs, as well as Transport for London, to work collaboratively and immediately to implement the following:

• Create protected cycle routes on main roads to work, shops, schools and hospitals
• Where possible, make high streets for buses, cycles and those on foot only
• Widen footways at pinch points such as shopping areas

Overall, the borough must significantly reallocate road space and cut traffic to make safe space that will allow Merton residents to socially distance as they move around.

Merton should take the lead from other neighbouring boroughs including Lambeth and Richmond in taking swift and substantive action. The window of opportunity will close soon and the cost of inadequate action will be high, in terms of air quality, public health, quality of life and carbon emissions.