My Liveable London

This feature is based on the article ‘My Liveable London’ by Fran Graham, published in ‘London Cyclist’ magazine, Spring 2018. 

The ‘My Liveable London’ pledge

In the weeks running up to the 3 May 2018 London council elections, London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets members and supporters asked prospective council leaders to pledge to:

“Submit a high-quality Liveable Neighbourhood bid, based in an area with high potential for walking and cycling, taking major steps to prioritise people walking and cycling over private cars in the area”.

The campaign was a success across London, with 55% of the subsequently elected borough leaders committing to a high-quality Liveable Neighbourhood (including Ruth Dombey in Sutton) – see ‘Have your party leaders pledged to create a Liveable London?‘. There was general cross-party support too. In Sutton, the Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat party leaders took the My Liveable London pledge, with Tim Crowley for the Conservatives supporting Sustrans’ ‘Streets for People‘.
It is clear that there is ambition in Sutton to access TfL funding to transform an area in the borough into a place where people will choose to walk and cycle, and leave the car at home.
Our thanks to everyone who sent an email to the candidates in support of the campaign, and also to the party leaders for indicating their commitment.   

Sutton, our borough, our life, now

Consider Sutton, and its town centre, which has been ranked the eighth largest metropolitan town centre in London. Consider Sutton, as a London borough and suburb in the broader sense, with seven busy district centres ranging from Worcester Park and North Cheam in the west, to Carshalton, Hackbridge and Wallington in the east, and from Rosehill in the north to Cheam in the south. Consider Sutton, with seven, important, larger local centres, from Banstead Road to Wrythe Green, by way of Beddington, Belmont, Middleton Circle, Stafford Road and Stonecot Hill. Consider Sutton, and its numerous, distinctive, neighbourhood local centres. Consider Sutton, your community, the nearby local parks, the schools and doctor surgeries. Consider Sutton, your avenue, chase, close, crescent, drive, rise, road, street or way.

Looking to the future, next week, next year, next generation

Now imagine Sutton, as a place where it’s enjoyable and safe to walk and cycle for all your local trips, where there are relaxing places to watch the world go by or chat with your neighbours, and where children can safely roam or ride to school. Imagine Sutton, as a place where our families, friends and communities are put first on our streets, and where motor traffic, pollution and congestion do not dominate our public spaces. Imagine Sutton where everyone can live well, breath easily, and move around in comfort.

That is the sort of place many of us have been working hard to build, and there are a few locations across London that are like this (although they are few and far between). Meanwhile, London’s councils are all grappling with illegal air pollution, rising congestion, an increasingly inactive and unhealthy population, and a growing isolation in out communities. All the more reason why we need to move towards a more liveable London, a more liveable Sutton.

And we need to progress now, for the sake of the next generation.


My Liveable London

To help London’s neighbourhoods become more liveable, the London Cycling Campaign and London Living Streets are working together in the run-up to the local elections on 3 May 2018 with an initiative called ‘My Liveable London’.

‘My Liveable London’ is about challenging all thirty-two councils to reimagine our streets to prioritise people, and make it easier and enjoyable to walk, cycle and use public transport. Repurposing our roads in this way can cut rat-running, reduce traffic jams, revitalise high streets and improve air quality.  It will create more connected, inclusive, communities, making it easier for people of all ages and abilities to get around and enjoy our public spaces.

LCC borough groups across London are teaming-up with their Living Streets counterparts, to ask prospective council leaders to commit publicly to submit a high-quality bid for Liveable Neighbourhood Programme funding [1] (and, thereby, essentially show recognition that a new type of thinking is required to put into practice the theory of reducing car dependency and increasing active, efficient and sustainable travel). Tricky, perhaps, in the here and now, but essential for the future.


Why is ‘My Liveable London’ so important?

Here are just some of the reasons, in no particular order and in summary only, as to why it is important to challenge Sutton Council, and whoever is the leader of the council from 4 May 2018, to commit to submitting a high-quality bid to help start the process of change:

  • Physical inactivity: There is an inactivity crisis in London. 43% of adults are not achieving the minimum level of 150 minutes of physical activity each week that they need to stay healthy [2].
  • Health of our children: 8 in 10 children in London do not get the one hour per day of physical activity that 5 – 18 year olds need as a minimum to stay healthy, and 4 in 10 children in London are overweight or obese [3]. Children, with their developing lungs, are also at particular risk from exposure to excessive levels of air pollution [4].
  • Air pollution: Air pollution is causing the premature death of over 9,000 people in London each year, and the cost of air pollution to individuals and society in the UK is £20 billion per year [5]. Motor vehicles are the single biggest source of pollutants in London [6]. (This was something we highlighted to councillors in 2017: The video you can’t afford to miss).
  • Congestion: In 2016, congestion cost London £6.2 billion [7]. Given the rapidly expanding population of London, that could rise to £9.3 billion by 2030 [8].
  • Rat-running: Motor vehicles cutting through an area, but not stopping, are extremely unpleasant visitors to many residential streets. Rat-running increases the noise and air pollution on roads, and makes them less safe for walking and cycling. Creating ‘low traffic neighbourhoods’, by installing modal filters for access only, has been seen to cut traffic by 56% in the treated areas and by 16% over the wider area [9]. Much nicer for everyone.
  • Inequality: Creating Liveable Neighbourhoods is a matter of social justice. The worst impacts of car use in London is felt disproportionately by people who don’t own and use cars [10].
  • Communities: Roads that are difficult to cross make it hard for people, especially the young, elderly and disabled, to access shops, health services and other essential services. Large numbers of vehicles also prevent children playing outside, dissuade neighbours from chatting in the streets and increase loneliness in our city [11]. Making our public spaces work for people and communities, and reducing motor traffic, helps build stronger communities.

Who could possibly not want their councillors to work towards dealing with these issues? Focussing on ‘My Liveable London’ is about dealing with the ‘here and now’ issues, such as parking and the school run, but with an eye to the future. For more on this, see the ‘My Liveable London’ Campaign Guide available from the useful resources page of the LCC website.


The right time for ‘My Liveable London’

The 2018 London council elections is the right time for ‘My Liveable London’ because:

  • Policy is in place: The publication of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (March 2018), with the ‘Healthy Streets‘ approach as a framework of the strategy, gives us the space to question councils about how they plan to reduce car dominance in their boroughs.
  • Funding is available: The availability of Transport for London’s Liveable Neighbourhoods Programme funding (announced by the mayor’s office in July 2017) provides councils with the opportunity to apply for, relatively, significant funding to help transform town centres and neighbourhoods.
  • Popularity is evident: Public want change, and change will be popular if delivered. Everyone wants clean air; drivers want less congested roads; bus-users want more rapid, reliable journeys; drivers want less congestion; everyone wants good health. Transforming the streets in a particular neighbourhood has the potential to inspire residents elsewhere.


The definition of a “high-quality” Liveable Neighbourhoods bid

The term ‘high-quality’ in the commitment is subjective, of course, so it needs a definition. London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets have agree seven standards, or metrics, to describe the term in the context of the pledge to commit to submit a Liveable Neighbourhoods funding bid. These standards are outlined in full on in The “high-quality” Liveable Neighbourhood pledge page of the LCC website. In summary, they are:

  1. The Liveable Neighbourhood needs to be located in an area with the greatest potential for walking and cycling (as determined from TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis data)
  2. All schemes will need to score at least 60% on the Healthy Streets Check overall, with no ‘critical issues’, to delver genuine improvements to benefit cyclists and pedestrians
  3. All schemes will need to achieve a minimum Healthy Street Check score of 60% for the indicator categories ‘People choose to walk, cycle and use public transport’ and ‘Pedestrians from all walks of life’
  4. All schemes will be required to meet various criteria regarding Pedestrian Comfort Levels (crossings and footways, see TfL Pedestrian Comfort Levels)
  5. The provision of physically-separated space for cycling on roads with over 2,000 Passenger Car Units (PCUs) of daily motor vehicle traffic (similar figures to those enshrined in TfL’s London Cycling Design Standards); 20mph on all side roads and enforced
  6. A scheme would be expected to result in a reduction in the number of motor vehicle movements in the area by at least 10%, and the reallocation of carriageway (including parking) space to active travel modes
  7. Evidence that the scheme will improve the lives of a significant proportion of people living, working and passing through the borough

The London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets wrote to prospective council leaders early in April 2018 to ask them to commit to the ‘My Liveable London’ pledge. Now you get a chance to do so too, at My Liveable London.

Get Sutton Cycling looks forward to working with Sutton Living Streets on the campaign, and hopes that the prospective council leaders for the Sutton Conservatives (Tim Crowley); Sutton Green Party; Sutton Labour Party; and Sutton Liberal Democrats (Ruth Dombey) support My Liveable London by pledging to submit a high-quality Liveable Neighbourhood bid.

For more information on this important 2018 election campaign, see My Liveable London on the LCC website; My Liveable London: Local Elections campaign, 2018 on the London Living Streets website, plus the hashtag #MyLiveableLDN.

This feature is based on the article ‘My Liveable London’ by Fran Graham, published in ‘London Cyclist’ magazine, Spring 2018. Some additional material has been derived from the ‘My Liveable London’ pages on the London Cycling Campaign website (April 2018)


1 Liveable Neighbourhoods (TfL, website)

2 Health Impact of Cars in London (GLA, September 2015)

3 Healthy Streets for London (TfL, February 2017)

4 Children’s Environmental Health (World Health Organisation, website)

5 Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution (Royal Collage of Physicians, February 2016)

6 Lethal and illegal (IPPR, website)

7 Traffic Congestion Cost UK Motorists More Than £30 Billion in 2016

8 Traffic Congestion to Cost the UK Economy More Than £300 Billion Over the Next 16 Years (INRIX, 14 October 2014)

9 Waltham Forest review Update (London Borough of Waltham Forest, November 2016)

10 Health Impact of Cars in London (GLA, September 2015) (Noting Figure 2, Household car ownership by borough, London residents, 2013/14 (page 6), showing Sutton as one of the highest car-ownership boroughs in London.

11 Trapped in a Bubble (Co-op / Red Cross, 2016)

Posted in Advocacy, News

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