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Taxi drivers group eyes legal challenge over 'Streetspace' policy of London mayor and TfL

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LDTA) plans a legal challenge to London mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) over their Streetspace policy.

Streetspace was established to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists to move about safely as public transport use fell during the Covid-19 pandemic, with temporary cycle lanes and wider pavements.

Some roads have also been closed to private cars and taxis.

TfL is yet to decide which of these measures will be made permanent.

Taxi industry publication Taxi Point, quoted by the Institute of Licensing, said LDTA general secretary Steve McNamara had said the greatest threat to taxi drivers’ financial wellbeing was “anything that limits or restricts our ability to move around and take our customers where they want to go, by the shortest, quickest and most direct route”.

Mr McNamara said: “Unfortunately TfL have ignored all common sense, logic and argument and have excluded taxis from thoroughfare access to Bishopsgate”, a main route in the City of London.

Alexandra Batey, TfL’s director of investment delivery planning, said: “As people return to work and leisure across London, it’s absolutely vital that streets can cope with increased demand for walking and cycling to avoid a damaging car-led recovery from coronavirus, which would increase congestion and road danger, reduce air quality and impact businesses. 

“As part of TfL’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, our Streetspace for London Plan is transforming Bishopsgate and Gracechurch Street into a less intimidating area that prioritises people cycling, while still ensuring it is an accessible area.

“We’re working hard to ensure that our temporary schemes introduced in response to coronavirus benefit everybody in London, which is why general traffic – including taxis – can access the corridor from side streets during restricted hours. We will continue to work closely with taxi and private hire stakeholders as these changes are introduced.”

TfL said it recognised that taxis need to drop off and pick up passengers and that where direct kerbside access has been reduced, it would try to ensure taxi access as close by as possible.

The LDTA did not respond to a request for comment.

Mark Smulian