Rye Lane to reopen to buses

21 July 2021

The temporary closure of Rye Lane to motor traffic is being reviewed, in the light of the government’s latest relaxation of COVID regulations.

Southwark Council and TfL are working to introduce an 18 month trial that will see the road reopened to buses and timed deliveries, but not other motor traffic. This move responds to feedback from local businesses and is designed to support them, while working to limit the impact on pedestrians and cyclists.

The council will invite local people to share their views about the partial reopening, by means of a formal consultation, six months into the trial. This feedback will be used along with data collected over the period, to help inform a decision about the future of the trial, shortly before the 18months is up.

Southwark Council closed Rye Lane last summer, to help people to social distance as the first wave of the pandemic broke. The road closure opened the street up to pedestrians and cyclists, making it easier and safer for them to get about. Pedestrianising Rye Lane resulted in a reduced risk of COVID transmission and fewer dangerous road traffic accidents.

However, despite the council’s huge investment and support offer for local businesses across the borough (it has shared over £100million in business support over the course of the pandemic), a number of small businesses along Rye Lane have struggled. Many of these businesses have been negatively impacted by the road closure, as a number of their customers, including those from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities, travel to the area by bus.

Southwark Council is working to strike a balance between continued support for small, independent businesses, but also to ensure a limited impact on environmental factors and road safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

The council is opening Rye Lane up to buses as such a compromise. The move will be explored through an experimental traffic order. This will provide time to listen to feedback and review the data. It is hoped that this partial reopening will help the area to thrive and support a full recovery as we come out of lockdown.

Cllr Catherine Rose, Cabinet Member for Transport, Parks and Sport, said: “We’ve been working with and listening to many local people since the emergency closure of Rye Lane last summer. We are committed to helping small businesses to thrive and encouraging more people back to the highstreets. However, we also need more people to walk and cycle, store their bike safely and use public transport more.

“Making the bus network more efficient for everyone helps us to restore confidence as people return to work and school in the autumn. Buses are low emission vehicles that help people connect with trains and other public services in the area. We are working towards a safer, cleaner Rye Lane for everybody.

“It is also important to remember that COVID-19 hasn’t gone away and we need to continue to make more space on our pavements for social distancing, to help keep everyone safe. We are continuing our work with the local community, and they will be involved in any further decisions, moving forward.”

Page last updated: 21 July 2021