msn– Londoners were today urged to continue to walk or cycle rather than flooding back onto public transport when the Covid restrictions in the capital are eased from midnight.
Transport for London chiefs want to avoid busy Tubes and buses increasing the risk of the virus spreading and are asking passengers to only use the network if necessary and travel off-peak where possible.
The call came as a survey revealed that 39 per cent of London cyclists said they were cycling more as a result of the pandemic – with the vast majority doing so to avoid catching or spreading covid or adding to congestion and pollution.
The Opinium survey of 1,000 Londoners who currently own or have owned a bike, commissioned by Halfords, found 29 per cent were cycling more, five per cent had taken up cycling as a result of the pandemic and six per cent had returned to cycling for the first time in years.
Almost half – 48 per cent – said the biggest barrier to cycling was that the “roads are not safe enough”, while 27 per cent said they worried their bike would get stolen.
A total of 492 of the 1,000 respondents said they had had a bike stolen while living or working in London.
Some 34 per cent or respondents called for more dedicated cycle lanes in London. A quarter of respondents said they would cycle more if there were more car free zones or low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) in the capital.
Halfords chief executive Graham Stapleton said: “Our survey shows Londoners have twin health concerns – the perceived risk of viral spread on public transport, and contributing to poor air quality in the city. This is helping to drive the unprecedented switch to cycling that we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic.
“We hope we really are seeing the start of a golden age for cycling in the capital. Since April we’ve undertaken more than 32,000 free 32-point bike checks in our London stores.
“In London, we have seen a huge rise in interest in our Cycle2Work scheme since April, with registrations in the capital rising 95 per cent year on year, including in e-bikes.
Mayor Sadiq Khan, previously a “nervous” cyclist, is among the Londoners who have bought an e-bike – in his case an electric Brompton folding bike – to ride to work and get around the city.
TfL today said that regular tests by Imperial College had failed to detect evidence of covid on the Tube and bus network for the third successive month.
Travel guidance was issued by TfL today, ahead of London moving into Tier 2 when the national lockdown ends tonight.
TfL expects many more people in central London as shops, businesses and hospitality venues reopen and the pre-Christmas rush kicks in. University students are also due back home in London for the festive break.
TfL’s website has information about quiet stations and bus stops at tfl.gov.uk/quiet-times to help travellers maintain social distancing. The TfL Go app makes it easier to plan journeys while on the move.
Passengers in Tier 3 areas outside London that are served by TfL services, such as Kent and Slough, must not travel outside of their local area unless for work or education that cannot be done at home.
Trains and stations are cleaned with hospital-grade cleaning substances that kill viruses and bacteria on contact and provide long-lasting protection.
Today it was announced that free Dettol hand sanitiser units, already available at Tube stations, would be extended to 1,100 locations across the transport network including all London Overground and DLR stations, TfL Rail stations, more than 30 bus stations and selected taxi ranks.
Andy Byford, London’s transport commissioner, said: “It’s incredibly important that everyone follows the Government guidance on how to keep everyone safe and that customers continue to take the simple steps of good hand hygiene, social distancing wherever possible and wearing a face covering throughout journeys unless exempt.
“Parts of London may be busier, particularly around the popular shopping and hospitality destinations, so we are asking everyone to plan ahead and travel during the quiet times so that social distancing, and keeping safe, is easier for everyone. That way we can all play our part in keeping the virus at bay and helping London return to normality in the future.”