Right now, there is a good chance that some things you have previously taken for granted are now being examined in a whole new light. It might even be that some things you never gave the time of day to are now essential matters.
An excellent example of this is the issue raised by the West Hampstead Amenity & Transport group, probably better known as WHAT. They say that the number of essential shops which are still open on the High Street has led to the pavements being congested and crowded.
Previously, congested streets were a mild inconvenience and part of daily life. Now, with social-distancing regulations in place, a lot of people have genuine concerns about the lack of space on offer in front of crucial stores and shops.
Streets with essential stores will be busy
Both Camden and Brent councils have said they are looking into ways in which they can implement the two-metre rule. Of course, this might be easier said than done. A recent study carried out by University College London, UCL, indicates two-thirds of pavements across the capital aren’t wide enough to allow social distancing to take place.
The chair of WHAT, 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. 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.”
If people cannot distance themselves safely as they undertake essential trips, there is a risk that the disease will be transmitted to others.
Councillor 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.”
Can changes be made in West Hampstead?
Some local councils in London have started widening pavements. This has been seen in Hackney, and it is inevitable there will be calls for similar measures to be introduced in and around West Hampstead. One of the issues surrounding significant changes is no one knows how long the lockdown measures will last for.
Carrying out significant work for a short-term measure doesn’t make sense. However, given the importance of maintaining social distancing, there is an argument that this is vital work that is crucial for people’s health and well-being.
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