Getting London back to business and moving again in a socially distanced way will mean a different commute for many. As some dust off bicycles and take to the streets on foot, London is quickly adapting to make sure commuters can travel in the safest and easiest way possible during the pandemic.
At Workspace, our centres are fully equipped to support you once you get into the office, with increased bike racks across the portfolio to ensure you can commute however you wish. Our flexible office, co-working and meeting room spaces span right across London, so you also have the option to travel as far or near to home as you like – whenever you like.
Here’s the low-down on what London’s putting in place for your new commute to help you plan the best, and safest, way to get back to your office.
Cycling and walking
In an effort to reduce crowding on public transport and make sure social distancing can take place effectively, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched Transport for London’s (Tfl) Streetspace for London plan. The plan sets out to make space on London’s streets for more cyclists and walking pedestrians.
He has swiftly put in action an impressive, “rapid construction” of a cycling network across the city to encourage those who can to take to saddles to do so, rather than putting extra pressure on public transport systems.
New Santander Cycles bike hubs are popping up at commuting hotspots all around London – at Waterloo, Kings Cross, Holborn, Liverpool Street and Soho Square – to ensure that everyone who needs to travel in these areas has access to a bike.
In addition, three main streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Old Street and Holborn, and Euston and Waterloo will be limited to bus, bike and pedestrian use only, with the exception of emergency services and the disabled. People will have the space they need to spread out safely and enjoy their commute in the open air.
Pedestrians enjoy Waterloo Road’s widened pavements
Over in the City of Westminster, Park Lane now has a segregated cycle lane which was installed overnight, and its 40mph speed limit has dropped to 20mph to allow for safe and easy cycling. Sadiq Khan is rolling out more quick and effective plans to widen pavements and create temporary cycle lanes, all positive steps to “enable millions more people to change the way they get around our city,” he says.
Cyclists take to the new segregated cycle lane at Park Lane
“Walking and cycling have a key role to play to take the pressure off public transport as we emerge from the lockdown,” says Stephen Edwards, Director of Policy and Communications at Living Streets, the UK’s everyday walking charity. “Wider pavements and low traffic neighbourhoods will undoubtedly help people feel safer walking everyday journeys, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.”
London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, Heidi Alexander, celebrates Park Lane achievement
Take a look at the government-funded bike schemes in place – Bike2Work and CycleScheme – if you plan on cycling to work. The schemes help employees and employers by offering the opportunity to pay for a new bike in monthly instalments and save on tax costs. It’s a great way to help you encourage your team to commute in a healthy, environmentally friendly, and safe way.
Cyclescheme - Freedom to Ride from Cyclescheme Ltd on Vimeo. Cyclescheme is the UK’s most popular cycle to work scheme, forming part of the Government’s Green Transport Plan
We at Workspace have also been working hard to accommodate more cyclists travelling to work by increasing the number of bike racks across a number of our centres by 34%. You can read more about what we’ve been up to here.
You can also find out about London’s new cycling paths and plan your journey to work on the Tfl website and cycle training is available through Gov.uk if you’re new to two wheels.
Public transport and driving
To make space for social distancing on the Tfl network, the 1.35 billion people who use the London Underground every single year are being asked to use the Tube and buses only as a last resort. This is bad news for many commuters who have no other option of getting to work, but the government is adapting services to help individuals travel in the safest way possible.
The network has said it will only be able to carry 13-15% of normal passenger numbers even when all services are back up and running as usual to give socially distanced travellers the room they need. Queuing capabilities at each station are being increased and it’s now compulsory to wear a face covering while travelling on public transport.
If you’re worried about encountering crowds of commuters when travelling, check Tfl’s hotspot data for the busiest stations and lines. This information could help you plan your journey to avoid peak times and stations with the highest footfall.
Drivers are also being asked to cycle and walk where possible. As the capital begins to move again, there is a risk that roads will buckle under the pressure of increased driver numbers, and fear that pollution levels will surge. This is why Sadiq Khan has reinstated the Congestion Charge, Ultra Low Emission Zone and Low Emission Zone.
If you’re driving to work, you can keep an eye out for traffic updates and changing information here.
At Workspace, we’re supporting a variety of commute options to keep your journey into work as flexible and easy as possible. Whether you want to work in Portobello or Whitechapel, Dulwich or Highbury, we have over 60 properties spanning London offering office, studio and co-working spaces.
With shower facilities and cycle racks to suit the needs of the active commuter, see what our properties have to offer you here.
For helpful advice and up-to-date resources on how to navigate your business through COVID-19 and beyond, head to our Back to Business Hub.