Healthy Streets for London

Healthy Streets for London, healthy residents in Sutton

Today, 16 February 2017, the Mayor’s office, Transport for London, and the new Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman, launched Healthy Streets for London: prioritising walking, cycling and public transport.


Read the Mayor of London’s Press Release here: Mayor and Commissioner set out vision for getting Londoners active.


The document sets out a new approach, a Healthy Streets Approach, that will provide “the framework of policies and strategies” for TfL, working with public leaders, with businesses and with communities across London, to ensure that active travel – walking, cycling and using public transport – will be the first and obvious choice for travel.

This is very good news for those of us who already cycle, but it is even better news for those many more people who do not cycle but would like to. Importantly, it is good news for everyone. Now, and in the future, whether they cycle or not.

The document notes that the focus is “on a short-term effort to ensure the streets are operating as efficiently as possible”. We will have to wait for the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (draft version expected in April or May 2017) to learn of the measures required to deliver the longer-term plan of achieving a shift from car use towards more efficient means of transport (walking, cycling, public transport). That may explain why ‘Healthy Streets’ is devoid of any specific proposals. The Mayor’s Transport Strategy will also “look at how we can incentivise reductions in the most harmful car use more directly”. It is difficult to see how streets, certainly in much of outer London, will be truly ‘healthy’ unless a reduction in all car use is incentivised. 

healthystreetsforlondon_page01In the Foreword to Healthy Streets for London, Will Norman writes: “Lack of physical activity is now one of the biggest threats to our health, increasing the risk of developing a range of chronic diseases including diabetes, dementia, depression and the two biggest killers in London – heart disease and cancer……. Active travel – walking more, cycling more, using public transport more – provides the easiest and most affordable way for us all to get more active and live healthier lives. In addition to these health benefits, all the evidence shows that more active travel will reduce air and noise pollution, help combat social isolation, ease congestion, make us safer and bring economic benefits to businesses – large and small – across the Capital“.healthystreetsforlondon_page07Being active need not be hard work, by the way, provided our streets function in the way that works for walking, cycling and public transport. And that is what the Healthy Streets Approach is all about (see ’10 Healthy Streets Indicators’ above (pages twelve and thirteen in the document)). It is also worth noting that if all Londoners walked or cycled for 20 minutes a day, this would save £1.75bn in NHS treatment costs over 25 years.  In addition, as Mike Brown, Transport Commissioner notes: “The things that make a street work well for people are the same things that make a street work well for local and international businesses, and that create a resilient and sustainable environment”.

The Healthy Streets Approach is about re-examing our streets, looking at the impacts of car use, and using policies and strategies that will help Londoners use cars less, and walk, cycle and use public transport more. And, the Healthy Streets Approach is about ensuring that London, across all thirty-two boroughs, is a sustainable city, a safe city, a connected city and a successful city…….. but the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts. Outer London boroughs, including ours, needs to do its bit too. That is why it is particularly good to learn that “new borough Local Implementation Plans will be required to have the Healthy Streets Approach at their heart“, and that TfL “will work with boroughs to help them to achieve this, ensuring that the approach is applied in the best way across every part of London”.

“…new borough Local Implementation Plans will be required to have the Healthy Streets Approach at their heart”

healthystreetsforlondon_page09_detailWe say, bring it on! Some may say it is all too difficult (after all, the TfL London Travel Demand Survey 2013/2014 named Sutton as the borough with the highest car ownership (but not the highest car usage) across London (at 75% of households having access to a car)). But, if Sutton is to be the successful and wonderful place we all wish it to be in ten, or twenty years time (with healthy, contented residents, and a buoyant economy) then it is necessary for the current administration to embrace the Healthy Streets approach from the outset.Being active need not be hard work. Let us hope that prioritising walking, cycling and public transport is not hard work either. The funding is coming, Sutton deserves (and needs) the political will to deliver the vision.

Extract from the Mayoral Press Release (16 February 2017): “As part of this plan, £2.1bn will be allocated to a new TfL Healthy Streets Portfolio that will focus on creating more welcoming and inclusive streets to enable more Londoners to walk, cycle and use public transport more often. This includes doubling the average annual spend on cycling announced in the TfL Business Plan, taking London’s cycling spending per head to the same levels as Denmark and the Netherlands”.

healthystreetsforlondon_page13_detailhealthystreetsforlondon_page14_detailhealthystreetsforlondon_page15_detailhealthystreetsforlondon_page16_detail


Further reading:

London Cycling Campaign (15 February 2017): Will Norman starts as first full time Walking and Cycling Commissioner

Key to the ‘Healthy Streets for London’ approach will be getting Londoners to “reduce their reliance on car use” and “providing more space for walking and cycling”.


Mayor of London (16 February 2017) Mayor and Commissioner set out vision for getting London active

In the week that London’s first ever full time Walking and Cycling Commissioner starts his new role, Will Norman has joined with the Mayor of London in outlining a long-term vision to help encourage more Londoners to walk and cycle, by making London’s streets healthier, safer and more welcoming.


Evening Standard (16 February 2017): NHS could save £1.7bn if Londoners walked or cycled for 20 minutes a day

TfL research found that more than a third of car trips made by Londoners could be walked in under 25 minutes, and half could be cycled in under 11.


Lilli Matson, Head of Strategy and Outcome Planning, Surface Strategy and Planning, Transport for London (16 February 2017):

“This new blueprint for a healthy London will see increasing physical activity put at the centre of a wide range of GLA and TfL policy, setting out how it could transform the lives of millions of Londoners.

As part of this plan, £2.1bn will be allocated to a new TfL Healthy Streets Portfolio. The portfolio will focus on creating more welcoming and inclusive streets to enable more Londoners to walk, cycle and use public transport more often.

Examples of how this new approach will be delivered in practice include:

Street level – improving local environments by providing more space for walking and cycling, and better public spaces where people can interact.

Transport network level – prioritising better and more affordable public transport and safer and more appealing routes for walking and cycling, reducing the dominance of motor vehicles and developing creative approaches to managing freight and deliveries.

Strategic level – Planning new developments so people can walk or cycle to local shops, schools and workplaces, and have good public transport links for longer journeys.

In addition to the substantial physical health benefits, the Mayor’s new approach will serve to reduce air and noise pollution, improve mental health, help combat social isolation, and bring economic benefits to local high streets across the Capital. It will also focus on minimising road danger, directly seeking to address the safety fears people have about cycling and walking more.

‘Healthy Streets for London’ sets out an important new approach for the Mayor and TfL. This approach will be embedded across the full range of Mayoral policy and strategy documents to ensure it is delivered effectively across the city. The new Mayors Transport Strategy is currently being developed, which will lay out the guiding policies for promoting and encouraging safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport facilities”.

v1.3: 05.03.2017

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