Pavement widenings and road traffic closures are already helping shoppers return to high streets safely in Kensington and Chelsea. Now the Council is exploring a new temporary cycling and walking route on Kensington High Street, subject to Transport for London funding.
The route would run the length of the high street and provide room for cyclists in both directions, while ensuring businesses have places to receive deliveries and building in more space for pedestrians at busy spots. The route is being considered following the government’s direction to enable walking and cycling to avoid the spread of Covid-19, as capacity is reduced on public transport to just 15% due to social distancing measures.
It is hoped any measure brought in would help boost the local economy, with more passing trade for shops and businesses as they bounce back after lockdown.
Cllr Johnny Thalassites, Lead Member for Transport, said:
“Our absolute priority is protecting lives and protecting livelihoods as lockdown eases. This means making social distancing as easy as possible, supporting our local economy and keeping people safe. We’re working with local businesses and residents to see how a temporary cycle lane on Kensington High Street could help to make active travel an option for more people while attracting shoppers back to our borough.”
Now the Council is applying to Transport for London to help fund the project. The design is not yet produced and the Council is working with resident associations and business groups to understand the local needs as well as the wider infrastructural need as lockdown eases and public transport operates below capacity.
Tom Frost, Chair of The Kensington Business Forum (KBF), said:
“It is imperative that we all come together to protect and support our community. If there are measures that can ease the impact as we emerge from this pandemic, such as this temporary cycle route to bring custom safely back to our shopping locales, then we should explore all of these opportunities.
“RBKC and our local councillors have been proactive in identifying objectives to support our local businesses during this uncertain time. The KBF will liaise with our business forum members as these strategies are developed to ensure we all come together.”
Last month, the Council announced several measures to help people stay safe as the borough bounces back. The closure of Portobello Road and Pavilion Road to traffic is helping shoppers to return safely. The measure has been welcomed by retailers as non-essential shops have reopened for customers this week.
The Council is accelerating work on planned cycleways including a new route serving Shepherd’s Bush, Notting Hill and Holland Park and a route from Kensington High Street to Notting Hill, alongside a £100,000 investment in cycle and an upgrade to the Chelsea Bridge Road cycle lane in the coming months. Since May, a new cycle crossing has been installed at Pembridge Villas; pavements have been widened at tube stations in Notting Hill Gate, High Street Kensington and outside Waitrose in King’s Road to help pedestrians to follow social distancing guidelines; and work continues to implement a 20mph speed limit across the borough.