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Court Battles Threaten London's Pandemic-Era Car Restrictions

Recent street adaptations are intended to make more space for bikes and pedestrians. But a new court ruling says they could have an adverse impact on disadvantaged groups.

A section of the Mayor of London's 'Streetspace' scheme, designed to expand capacity for pedestrians and cyclists on certain roads while social distancing guidelines remain in effect, on Edgware Road in London, England, in May, 2020. 

A section of the Mayor of London's 'Streetspace' scheme, designed to expand capacity for pedestrians and cyclists on certain roads while social distancing guidelines remain in effect, on Edgware Road in London, England, in May, 2020. 

Photographer: David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images

As London remodels its streets to accommodate more cyclists and pedestrians during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s facing a new kind of hurdle: legal challenges.

A London court ruled Jan. 20 that barring taxis from a central London street was unlawful. In a win for several taxi trade groups who filed the challenge, Justice Beverley Lang also found that city guidance suggesting local boroughs ban taxis on some streets failed to sufficiently take into account “the needs of people with protected characteristics, including the elderly or disabled.”