Reopening Westminster’s hospitality sector

In June 2020, Westminster published proposals on how it could reopen its hospitality sector following the COVID-19 crisis.

The main proposals affecting cycling were:

For further details, including a list of the streets affected, please see the full proposals.

Camden's Museum Street has had chairs and tables in the street for many years.

 

Our response

This was our response:

We support these plans to reopen the hospitality sector and we appreciate the considerable time and effort that has clearly already gone into coordinating the various stakeholders' needs and views.  We are grateful for the opportunity to comment now.

In general, timed closures are very welcome. Do the businesses support the 5pm start on weekdays?  We query whether earlier start to closures would be better. 

We request that closure of the streets allow continued bicycle traffic, i.e. that the closures should apply to motor traffic only. Tables and chairs on the street, should be positioned to allow the safe physically-distanced passage of pedestrians and cyclists, as existing rules provide.

If any of the closures include closures for bicycle traffic, at the very least, improvements must be made simultaneously to cycle routes bypassing the closed areas.  The current proposals would appear to make bicycle travel E-W and W-E in Soho, Leicester Square, Chinatown and Covent Garden zones very confusing in the evening closed times, as these routes are vital links for cyclists and pedestrians at present.  Navigation must be made possible/legible without forcing cyclists along such main roads, and without forcing circuitous routes, which are more likely to be contravened by less fit, or hurrying riders. 

Access for pedestrians and cyclists to Central Hospitality areas, especially from mainline stations and major tube stations: Provide safe, low pollution, access routes, eg by reducing traffic and removing parking to allow people to socially distance; eg along Wellington St and Bow St between Waterloo Bridge and Covent Garden.

To accommodate increased numbers of visitors to the hospitality businesses arriving by bicycle, increased numbers of bike racks may be needed, such as "toast-racks".  It will be important to respond to changing demands, for instance by inviting continuous feedback from the businesses and cyclists, and being ready to install additional racks where needed.

We would like the council to monitor the changes to indicators such as air quality and footfall while the scheme is in operation. This can be used to inform a conversation about measures like low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) in each of these areas in the long term.

Electric cargo bikes produce far less particulate emissions, demonstrably are far more space efficient and get around central London faster than electric cars. So if you want to consolidate “last mile” deliveries – as we think you should – why not use electric cargo cycles instead of cars? We think this would be better for residents and the environment, better for business efficiency and better for Westminster’s corporate reputation.