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Social distancing: West Hampstead transport campaigners call for wider pavements on Kilburn High Road

PUBLISHED: 13:24 01 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:29 01 May 2020

Camden Council is making changes to Kilburn High Road after concerns over congestion were raised. Picture: John Saynor

Camden Council is making changes to Kilburn High Road after concerns over congestion were raised. Picture: John Saynor

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Transport campaigners are calling for Kilburn High Road’s pavements to be widened to aid social distancing.

Local authorities have been granted additional powers during lockdown to introduce road safety measures that improve social distancing. Picture: John SaynorLocal authorities have been granted additional powers during lockdown to introduce road safety measures that improve social distancing. Picture: John Saynor

West Hampstead Amenity & Transport (WHAT) says the density of essential shops still open on the High Road - split between Camden and Brent - has seen its pavements become congested and crowded during the lockdown.

Brent and Camden councils have both said they are exploring ways to ensure the two-metre rule can be protected.

Recent research by University College London (UCL) found two thirds of pavements in the capital are not wide enough to maintain social distancing.

WHAT chair John Saynor said: “Kilburn High Road is a very difficult road because it’s got a lot of traffic, pavements aren’t all that wide, and improving it on a permanent basis is a big job - and it’s been neglected over a long period of time.

Brent Council says supermarkets must take responsibilty for managing their queues. Picture: Joh SaynorBrent Council says supermarkets must take responsibilty for managing their queues. Picture: Joh Saynor

“But in the short-term putting in a few cones and signposted boards, we think, need not be difficult, the cost would be next to nothing and it would help improve social distancing.”

Otherwise, John warned, people could risk transmission of the disease by breaking the two-metre rule, or in trying to maintain it, walk onto the road and pose a safety risk.

Brent’s environment lead Krupa Sheth said: “As part of our planning for when restrictions are eased, we are exploring measures to make it easier for people to keep 2 metres apart, especially at locations that residents have highlighted as being more congested. As part of this, we are working with partners to carefully consider the request to widen pavements down Kilburn High Road.

“While widening the pavement may seem straightforward, it’s much more complex than that and we have to think through other unintended consequences and risks of any decision.

“What I would say at this stage is that it is really important that shops are on top of managing their queues, and we are engaging with businesses on Kilburn High Road to make sure they are aware of their responsibilities.

“This is a simple step that would go some way to help alleviate the problem.”

Camden Council’s environment lead Adam Harrison said: “Narrow pavements and traffic can make it difficult to keep to the 2m distance on some residential and high streets when exercising or making essential journeys.

“That’s why we are exploring how we can create more space to facilitate physical distancing, including on Kilburn High Road where we are exploring widening the pavement where possible.”

As local authorities were recently given additional powers by the Department for Transport to improve social distancing, some London councils have started widening pavements, including Hackney.


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