A two-wheeled revolution
Written by Scarlett Regan, Researcher
Edited by David Gaffney, Partner
Yesterday, balanced on two wheels, I ventured into central London for the first time in three months. From the Ealing streets, through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, and up the Mall to St James’ Park, it was immeasurably more enjoyable than the equivalent tube journey.
We weren’t the only ones. The category of cyclists we encountered varied hugely, from lycra-adorned enthusiasts whizzing past us, to friends in floral dresses pedalling to picnics in the park, rosé bottles balanced precariously in wicker baskets. One thing was clear to me on yesterday’s adventure: cycling is the future.
The trend for inner-city cycling is growing exponentially and cities are adapting themselves to meet the demand. Cycle lanes are being widened to allow for the incoming influx of two-wheeled commuters. Offices will have to build more shower facilities to accommodate their perspiring employees’ arrivals. Bike subscription start-ups are emerging left, right and centre, eager to benefit from this newfound enthusiasm. Transport for London is rolling out 14 more docking stations for Santander bikes across London, adding 1,700 more bikes to the scheme. It’s a revolving revolution.
Yes, this isn’t going to miraculously eradicate pollution or extinguish car usage. If anything, we might be about to see a greater volume of cars on the road as well as bikes, with people turning to private cars rather than public transport for fear of infection, although, from today, the wearing of a face mask on public transport is mandatory in England, which will hopefully lessen the paranoia.
Regardless, yesterday’s foray offered a tantalising glimpse of a bright future for our cities; quiet streets with fewer vehicles and a broader range of people on bikes, benefiting from changed priorities and critical mass. In the midst of a world that seems to be spiralling into pits of negativity, it is important – and reassuring – to recognise these silver linings. Let’s hope policymakers, town planners and transport chiefs up and down the country find ways to help accelerate this two-wheeled revolution.
Shops in England selling non-essential goods are reopening today after three months. Retailers are required to introduce plastic screens at the tills and floor markings to ensure shoppers stay two metres apart. People may be urged not to touch items unless they intend to buy them and, in some clothes shops, fitting rooms will be closed.
The UK prime minister Boris Johnson said that there is “much more that we need to do” to tackle racism, as he announced a new commission to look at all “aspects of inequality”. He added that the UK should not attempt to re-write history by removing historical symbols.
The Scottish education secretary John Swinney told the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme that next year’s exams could take place later than normal, to allow courses to be completed. He also said that he was confident that schools could go back on 11 August, but that it was unlikely that they could return to normal before the end of the academic year due to social distancing.
Business and economy
French president Emmanuel Macron has lifted most of the country’s coronavirus restrictions. In a televised address to the nation, the premier vowed that he would focus on rebuilding the crisis-stricken economy in the last two years of his presidency. Travel within Europe will also begin to return to normal today, but limits on large gatherings will remain.
More than one million people have been locked out of the UK government coronavirus support schemes, including to a report published today by the Treasury select committee. The committee’s chair, Mel Stride, has said the government needs to act urgently “to help those who have fallen through the cracks”. This includes people who started new jobs after the cut-off date for the furlough scheme, and those who recently became self-employed.
Lloyds Banking Group is preparing to downsize its UK office space as more staff transition to home working. Matt Sinnott, the bank’s people and property director, said it was likely the bank would need “fewer buildings and different types of spaces” in the future.
Columns of note
In The Times, the mayor of London Sadiq Kahn writes that three years on, the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire must not be forgotten. He argues that the lack of progress and subsequent residential fires make it clear that the government has been slow to respond and has failed to grasp the scale of the building safety crisis that exists.
And in the Financial Times, the Big Read looks at poverty and populism putting Latin America at the centre of the pandemic. The continent, now suffering half the world’s new coronavirus deaths, faces a heavy human toll and crippling economic damage. Experts say this is down to the country’s very large informal economy.
Source: The Telegraph
What's happening this week?
In Europe, EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen will present the commission’s vaccine development strategy on Wednesday. Updates on the budget and recovery fund will be watched closely as EU leaders meet virtually on Friday with the hope of settling a deal. A number of European countries are reopening their borders too.
UK labour market figures are due on Tuesday, with the unemployment rate for February to April forecasted at 4.5%. Inflation data is expected on Wednesday, with declines predicted in the UK and the eurozone.
A number of companies are reporting this week, with many investors’ eyes on eBay, Omnicom, Microsoft and Netflix results.
What's happening today?
Kings Arms Yard
Nova Ljubj. S
The Mission Group
Int. Economic Announcements
(10:00) Balance of Trade (EU)
Source: FTSE 100, Financial Times
Did you know?
The pinker the flamingo, the more aggressive it is.
House of Commons
Housing, Communities and Local Government (including Topical Questions)
Statutory instrument relating to the draft electricity capacity (amendment etc.) (coronavirus) regulations 2020 – Alok Sharma
Statutory instrument relating to the draft environmental protection (plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers) (England) regulations 2020 – George Eustice
Statutory instrument relating to the health protection (coronavirus restrictions) (England) (amendment) (no. 3) regulations 2020 – Matt Hancock
Statutory instrument relating to the draft fatal accidents act 1976 (remedial) order 2020 – Robert Buckland
Support for the caravan industry in Hull and East Riding – Emma Hardy
House of Lords
Government support for journalists and politicians in Northern Ireland who have received death threats from paramilitary groups - Lord Caine
When the government will announce the membership of the committee to review the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 - Lord Norton of Louth
Proposals by the British Retail Consortium and the British Property Federation for a furloughed space grant scheme during the COVID-19 pandemic - Lord Allen of Kensington
Government steps during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent any increase in child poverty - Baroness Lister of Burtersett
Private notice question
Ongoing protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement and the consequent removal of statues and monuments – The Lord Bishop of St Albans
Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL] – third reading – Baroness Williams of Trafford
Orders and regulations
Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 - motion to approve - Viscount Younger of Leckie
Orders and regulations
Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 - motion to decline - Baroness O'Loan
Orders and regulations
Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 - motion to decline - Lord Shinkwin
Orders and regulations
Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 - Lord Bethell
Reforms to probation services in England and Wales - Lord Keen of Elie
No business scheduled.