Works that dig up pavements and disrupt pedestrians and cyclists in the capital will now be charged in the same way as roadworks that block traffic, under plans announced by Transport for London.
The lane rental scheme will be extended to cover pavements from May as part of London’s push to encourage more walking and cycling journeys.
Utility companies are currently charged a daily fee of up to £2,500 for works in the busiest roads, to deter congestion and encourage them to work as swiftly as possible.
Firms will be charged £350 a day for works that affect the busiest areas of pavement.
TfL said the changes would raise standards of safety and accessibility in the capital, and reduce in particular the impact on people with accessibility needs who can be badly affected by pavements being dug up.
Incentives to minimise works are also seen as vital for buses. Associated congestion caused a slump in bus speed and reliability over parts of the last decade, before returning to record levels during lockdown.
The lane rental scheme, first operated in London and Kent since 2012-13, will also be expanded to cover more of the major roads, about 69% of TfL’s routes.
Glynn Barton, TfL’s director of network management, said: “London’s road network plays an absolutely vital role in keeping the capital moving and this has become more apparent than ever over the last year, with our pavements in particular playing a key role in enabling safer walking journeys.
“We recognise the hugely important job done by utility companies and we’ve worked closely with the industry to develop these changes to our pioneering lane rental scheme, which will boost safety standards and make a real difference to everyone using our road network, including people walking and cycling.”
The initiative appears unrelated to TfL’s parlous financial situation since the coronavirus pandemic slashed its fare income.
While TfL has extended the London congestion charge’s operating hours, and proposed to generate funds from a new boundary charge for drivers, it said that all revenues from the scheme would be reinvested in initiatives to reduce disruption from roadworks across the capital.
Such schemes already allocated funding include mapping below-ground utilities and a works coordination programme. Around 30% more roadworks are now carried out at night since lane rental started, according to TfL.