With the continuation of social distancing and authorities urging people to stay at home, regular travel has remained markedly low since the year began.
Finder.com estimates that 60% of UK adults clocked in remotely at the height of lockdown. Together, the 23.9 million employees collected around £1.1 billion per week in saved expenses. Many workers are now preparing to head back as businesses arrange their safe return.
In response to the subsequent hike in traffic, Transport for London (TfL) has updated infrastructure in the congested capital city. The primary goal is to accommodate more pedestrians and cyclists.
TfL has also implemented new health and safety measures to protect drivers and passengers. The governing body suggests that we sanitise, wear masks, avoid peak hours, and use contactless payments. Similar procedures accompany Londoners onto cleaner public transit services.
But it’s their creative approach to alternative transportation options that’s reshaping modern commuting. Let’s explore how the pandemic has transformed the way we get around in London.
Streetspace for London
Thanks to the Streetspace for London program, walking and cycling is becoming far more desirable. The initiative makes it safer and easier to practice social distancing on sidewalks. Streetspace also aims to:
- Encourage pedestrian commuting methods
- Prevent gridlocks from causing blockages
- Keep the city air as clean as possible
- Reduce personal car use to assist emergency vehicles
These objectives are accomplished through several different projects. For instance, boroughs are funded and requested to change their roads by building restricted ‘school streets’ and ‘low traffic neighbourhoods’ where vehicles are subject to certain restrictions. Additional tasks include:
- Making new and upgraded bicycle lanes
- Widening pavements to better serve wheelchair users
- Creating walking and bus-only corridors in central London
Sustrans has assisted by providing a map of current Streetspace schemes, which locals can use to send feedback about the program. TfL is also trialling 24-hour bus lanes to improve the speed and reliability of trips.
Another TfL initiative, Santander Cycles is a shared bike hire scheme that offers compelling reasons to participate. This starts with the price. You can hop onto a Santander Cycle for £2 per 30 minutes of riding with unlimited journeys. As long as you return the bike within 24 hours, you only pay the standard rate.
There’s also an optional membership, which either costs £2 for 24-hour access or £90 per year. The latter equates to just 25p per day, and you can reduce it by up to £37.80 with the City Bike Hire scheme if you ride to work. Students can save 25% for a much lower £67.50 annual fee. In any case, membership grants the following benefits:
- Quicker access to bicycles
- Check recent trips and charges through the app
- Monthly and yearly activity reports
- You can buy your own key or spares for others
Increasing bike use and ramping up routes has considerable effects on the environment, too. While coronavirus subsides, cities open up and people start driving more often. The associated pollution is partly why 119,000 Londoners lived in dirty air in 2019, which is a far cry from the two million of 2016.
Switching to walking and cycling can make a world of a difference to air quality and overall living conditions in the city. Fortunately, recent milestones at TfL paint a positive picture. Over 85,000 members joined Santander Cycles between March and October this year. There were 2.3 million hires through May and June alone.
That doesn’t account for all bike hires in the city, however. Several competitors have been getting their slice of the pie.
This includes Jump by Uber, whose electric bicycles cost £1 to unlock and 12p per minute to ride.
Head to any Lime docking station and you’ll find similar cycles, albeit slightly more expensive at 15p per minute.
Freebike offers premium electric bicycles for £1 every 10 minutes – excluding the first 30 minutes, which are free.
Beryl is a popular non-electric option that charges a measly 5p per minute on top of the £1 unlocking fee.
When it comes to utilising alternative commuting options for Londoners, it certainly helps to live closer to work. Nobody wants to arrive at the office drenched and drained from a long morning ride or unintended run.
Companies can pitch in with strategies such as the hub-and-spoke model. This involves spreading employees across numerous ‘hubs’ in strategic locations. Not only can it cut down on commutes, but it can also benefit businesses by lowering property costs. The associated real estate portfolio is described as ‘agile, decentralized, and resilient.’
While working from home has its benefits, many people miss office life and the social aspect of it. Conference calls can’t emulate real-world opportunities to connect and collaborate. As noted in an article from Microsoft, the number of conference calls is increasing, however, employees are spending less time overall in these Microsoft Teams meetings. The trend follows more “bite-size meetings” versus longer hour-long sessions in the office, so it’s good to know that Hybrid working can provide the best of both worlds. In a flexible workplace, the needs of both employee and employer are met.
Many London workers will continue to seek remote working benefits, even after it’s safe to return to the workplace. At the same time, many UK businesses that were once against a WFH policy are now finding that employees can in fact be productive outside of the office.
Businesses can fortify their approach with remote services such as remote IT support. This reduces the need for on-site staff, which are replaced by on-demand technicians. Here at totality services, we provide award-winning support around the clock for London businesses. Services range from work from home IT support and security to hosting, purchasing, and beyond.
With environmental concerns like air pollution still on top of mind for the city of London, conscious commuting practices should be taken seriously by companies and employees alike. Adopting new methods for getting to work is beneficial for everyone involved. It’s up to businesses to recognise this and leverage the resources available to them.
Have you considered what remote IT support can do for your company? Whether your team is based at home or the office, we specialise in making sure that everything runs smoothly with unlimited remote IT support. If you’d like to learn more about our capabilities, feel free to get in touch for a chat.