- The City of London Corporation unveiled plans to develop "pedestrian priority" zones in half of the city's financial district, known as the Square Mile, that would ban access to cars, vans and other vehicles, as reported by The Evening Standard and others.
- The plans are intended to promote pedestrian and cyclist safety, and "future-proof" the Square Mile by reducing carbon emissions and protecting infrastructure.
- The City of London Corporation, which is slated to publish a final Transport Strategy in Spring 2019, presented the draft plans to local elected officials last week. The Standard reports that the Planning and Transportation Committee will make a decision on the plans on October 30.
While the City of London Corporation has touted its work on the Transport Strategy throughout all of 2018, the announcement of these draft plans was timely, considering recent headlines regarding climate change. Last week, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report noting the urgency of mitigating global warming by 2030, calling on global leaders like London to set a precedent for emissions reductions. While London is far from the first city to partially ban car usage, these plans could put a dent in the city's climate efforts and potentially set the pace for other cities to follow.
The historic financial district is one of the busiest regions in the city, welcoming nearly 500,000 commuters daily. By proposing such a vast reduction of cars in the Square Mile, not only will the city greatly impact its own climate mitigation and pedestrian safety, but it will also greatly change Londoners' daily commuting habits, forcing folks to ditch cars and buses for more sustainable transportation options. "The streets must be designed to encourage people to move and interact calmly," Simon Munk of the London Cycling Campaign told the Standard.
While convincing Londoners to change their commuting and vehicle usage habits may not be an easy task, it will eventually be common practice across the entire city. These draft plans actually complement London Mayor Sadiq Khan's overarching Transport Strategy, published in May. "London must become a city where walking, cycling and green public transport become the most appealing and practical choices for many more journeys," he said. "These active, efficient and sustainable transport choices not only support the health and wellbeing of Londoners, but also the city as a whole by reducing congestion and enabling the most efficient use of valuable street space."