Coronavirus, climate change and surface transport

By Asitha Jayawardena

When the lockdown in the UK is over, we must go out – to the high street, to work, to hospital and so on.

Whether we want to move or travel, there is a problem.

As The Guardian see it, public transport must not be too crowded as before; or if people drive by cars, the roads get blocked; and the deliveries will be undeliverable while air pollution will be high.

It’s walking and cycling, says Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner. ‘It is good for our health, it is good for our mental health and it is good for the environment.’

Much more space given for motorized traffic as opposed to walking, scootering or cycling is an issue for many years and the coronavirus pandemic solved this. £2 billion funding by Transport Secretary Grants Shapps will be spent mainly on walking and cycling, which is the main part of Active Travel.

But there’s benefits from this active travel. If you ride or walk, a third of UK carbon emissions could be avoided from driving, according to the Friends of Earth.

As The Guardian reported, due to the lockdown, 31% of UK carbon emissions would be temporarily avoided and much is due to less road traffic. Once the lockdown is over, this will sadly rise again.

Let’s see how you go out after the lockdown.

Walk (or scooter)

When you want to buy the newspaper, walk. Walking is good to your body and mind. If you have a stretch covering 20 minutes, ‘floating’ (as if it floats) starts after that.

Years ago, a medical doctor started an article in The Reader’s Digest this way: I have two doctors; my left leg and my right. And great people like Charles Dickens, William Wordsworth and Henry David Thoreau have all walked and why don’t we after the lockdown? Simply walk.


If you have a stretch more than mere walking would do and if you are with a bicycle, then cycle. Cycling is good to your body and mind too.

NHS promotes cycling and the benefits that novel cyclists can achieve can be found here.

In many areas, gender is a problem if you are a female cyclist. According to Tiffany Lam of the New Economics Foundation Consulting, for every female cyclist, there are 3 to 4 male cyclists and this has not changed despite efforts to increase in cycling infrastructure in the past decade.

Female cyclists are to withstand violence, street harassment and aggressive drivers (of cars, etc) who happen to target them. With the coronavirus lockdown is over, this should be touched first so that all cyclists will have the necessary freedom within the Highway Code if they are male or female.

Public transport

Suppose you have a distance that walking and perhaps cycling cannot reach, say 5 miles. Then, it’s public transport that you should count on but there will be problems.

One thing that we have to consider is social distancing. In The Conversation article, the passengers that public transport in New South Wales would carry happen to be 26% of capacity if a 1m of social distancing to be maintained.

In London buses were given a free ride during the coronavirus lockdown, mainly to protect bus drivers against infection. But now the situation has changed.

Car, motor-bike or taxi

If the distance is long and you would not like to use public transport, then it’s your own car, motor-bike or a taxi. Be careful if that is the case.

If you want to avoid pubic transport and travel on your own car and many people would do the same, roads would be congested and travel time would be high while causing air pollution.

So, if that is the decision, you have to think twice. Or you can take public transport and take a taxi for the remaining part.


Now, how long will the lockdown go, nobody knows.


5 ways transport could change after COVID-19

Coronavirus recovery: public transport is key to avoid repeating old and unsustainable mistakes

‘A new normal’: how coronavirus will transform transport in Britain’s cities



  1. Great post, Asitha. It’s really good to know that the city council is making the effort to make roads better for pedestrians and cyclists.
    Do you think it’ll be possible to regulate the 26% max capacity in buses?
    And what about the Tube?


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