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Hospital: ‘Use roads for walking and cycling’

Bart’s chief executive writes to Town Hall offering ‘extraordinary’ travel plan help

22 May, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

A HOSPITAL in Farringdon is backing calls to repurpose more roads for pedestrians and cyclists.

St Bartholomew’s, known just as Bart’s, has written to Islington Council offering to work on new transport plans.

Jonathan Kelly, director of operations, said the hospital had already encouraged its 16,000 staff to walk or cycle to work and implemented a scheme to hand out bikes.

“What I’ve heard is people say they have never thought about cycling in London before but now traffic is so low they want to do it,” he said.

“But there are also higher rates of speeding on the roads as a result of lockdown. Lots of people are cycling who aren’t used to London roads.

“What needs to happen now is look at what happens after lockdown and how do we keep people cycling after corona­virus.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced last Friday that main roads in London could become car free, including those from Old Street to Holborn.

Barts’ chief executive Professor Charles Knight, has written to Islington council leader Richard Watts offering support.

Mr Kelly said: “We are looking to work with the Local Authority and other organisations to make the environment align with things encouraging healthy living.”

David Harrison from the Islington Living Streets campaign group, said: “I think it is just remarkable and shows the urgency of the situation that Bart’s have made the offer. I really cannot remember the CEO of a major health trust making such an offer before. It shows the extraordinary situation we are in.

“We are sure that Islington Council must see the importance of infrastructure so that people can walk and cycle safely and we very much hope that the chief exec will listen to what Bart’s are saying.”

Last week, the council rolled out a series of street schemes in areas of heavy footfall, to help people keep a safe distance from each other.

These included widening pedestrian space in Liverpool Road at the junction with Richmond Avenue, in Essex Road outside Tesco Express, and along Stroud Green Road between Tollington Park and Lennox Road.

Transport for London also expanded the pavement at Nag’s Head as some lockdown restrictions were eased and people were asked to keep a two metre distance.

Islington’s environment chief Labour councillor Rowena Champion said: “We are committed to improving conditions for walking and cycling during the Covid-19 emergency, and beyond, doing so will help local people make their essential journeys around the borough in a safe, sustainable and environmentally-friendly way.

“We have already started the process of adapting the borough’s streets in order to make it easier to socially distance while walking and cycling, including along key commuter routes, and we look forward to announcing further measures around the borough in the very near future.”

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