Tuesday, 20 November 2018

New research shows getting more people walking and cycling could help save our high streets

"The benefits of designing streets around pedestrians and cyclists and reducing car use can be enjoyed by everyone and will help ensure the future of our high streets"
TfL has today published research that shows improvements to make it easier and safer to walk and cycle in London's town centres and high streets lead to an increase in retail rental values, more retail space being filled and a 93% increase in people walking in the streets.
The research has also found that people walking, cycling and using public transport spend the most in their local shops, spending 40% more each month than car drivers.
In one major study published today, locations including Bromley North Village, Hornchurch Town Centre, Clapham, Woolwich Town Centre and Walworth Road were studied to assess the impact of improvements, such as widened footpaths, increased space for outdoor seating, new public squares and pedestrian crossings.
The study, commissioned by TfL and conducted by Matthew Carmona from University College London's Bartlett School of Planning, found that compared to unimproved areas:
  • Footfall increased - the number of people standing, waiting and sitting nearly doubled and people walking in the streets increased by 93%
  • People spent more time in the street, with a 216% increase in activity such as going into a shop, stopping at a cafĂ© or sitting on a bench
  • Retail rental values increased by 7.5%, suggesting that local businesses are thriving in the area
  • More retail space was filled by businesses, as there was a 17% decline in retail vacancy
  • Office rental values increased by 4%, showing that improving streets is good for many types of business

Economic benefits

The research has been published as part of a new online hub demonstrating the economic benefits of TfL's Healthy Streets Approach, which aims to create high streets that are designed for people, inclusive and easy to access by foot or bike.
Will Norman, London's Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: 'With businesses across London really struggling to survive, we have to do everything we can to support them.
'The evidence is clear - adapting our streets to enable more people to walk and cycle makes them cleaner, healthier and more welcoming, which encourages more people to shop locally.
'The benefits of designing streets around pedestrians and cyclists and reducing car use can be enjoyed by everyone and will help ensure the future of our high streets.'
Launched today, new online hub, The Economic Benefits of Walking and Cycling, will be kept up to date with research and statistics from TfL and others.
Current material on the hub includes a report setting out the economic benefits of planning cycling and walking improvements alongside housing growth, a survey of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) demonstrating the economic importance of walking and cycling to businesses across London, and research suggesting segregated cycle routes in London make our streets more efficient.

Improve quality of life

The Mayor's Transport Strategy aims to reduce reliance on car use and grow sustainable travel to improve quality of life, aiming for 80% of journeys to be made by walking, cycling or public transport.
TfL's investment in delivering Healthy Streets contributes to this by creating streets where people choose to travel actively, connecting communities, improving air quality and reducing road danger and noise.
Lilli Matson, Director of Transport Strategy at TfL, said: 'This research from our new online hub shows the link between creating enjoyable spaces, where people want to spend time, and the results for better business.
'We are taking the Healthy Streets Approach to change the whole capital so that everyone can live active lives in a healthy environment, with opportunities to walk, cycle, shop, play and enjoy their streets.'
Kay Buxton, Chief Executive of Marble Arch London BID, said: 'We welcome the Economic Benefits of Walking and Cycling hub, and the wealth of information supporting the case for walking, cycling and using public transport.
'As a BID we are committed to bringing forward schemes with TfL across the entire Marble Arch and Edgware Road area, from improving junctions and crossings through to creating safer routes to schools, businesses and leisure amenities.
'Our members tell us that their staff, customers, guests, students and pupils need safer spaces in which to operate.
'It not only helps the trading environment locally but it boosts health and wellbeing and fosters a greater sense of community. Amazing things happen when businesses and community come together to champion a safer pedestrian environment.'

Boosts health and wellbeing

Ruth Duston OBE, OC, CEO of Victoria and Northbank BIDs, said: 'We recognise that enhancing the quality of the local environment in our areas is not just about creating token green spaces. Far from it, well designed and located 'green' interventions make good business sense too.
'From our Business Low Emission Neighbourhood in the Northbank with healthier walking routes and the Love Your Side Streets programme in Victoria, to creating more attractive areas for people to dwell, such as Victoria's Chelsea Flower Show Parklets, everyone benefits.
'Local employees benefit from commuting and working in a more pleasant environment and businesses have a more satisfied workforce and, as this new research supports, better commercial outcomes.'
Projects such as the Mini Holland scheme in Waltham Forest and the A105 Green Lanes scheme, linking Enfield Town to Palmers Green, are working to make London a greener, healthier and more attractive place to live, work, play and do business.
The recent Active Lives Survey shows that Waltham Forest now has the highest percentage of adults walking at least five days per week of all the London boroughs, at 43%.
This has increased by 5% since 2015/16. Residents in the areas transformed through the Mini Holland scheme are doing an extra 40 minutes' walking and cycling each week, compared to before the area was transformed.

Notes to editors

Safe Routes to School

First published in Governing Matters, the magazine of the National Governance Association, November 2018. Author: Foster, A.

A family cycling to school at Bessemer Grange Primary in Southwark

As a member of a local Safe Routes to School forum, I know that some school leaders are battling with dangerous driving, illegal parking and hostile, aggressive behaviour around the school gates at peak times. Whilst leaders are focused on guaranteeing educational attainment in the face of swingeing budget cuts, the school run issue has started to absorb valuable resources as school’s attempt to keep pupils and their families safe.

Making the school run and our school streets safer and healthier is an urgent issue. The answer seems so simple; leaving the car at home and instead walking or cycling to school. If everyone did this, there would be some 25% reduction in the volume of traffic on the roads at peak times. So how?

Active travel (walking, cycling or otherwise travelling ‘actively’) has been called ‘a wonder drug’ by public health doctors, due to the huge benefits it can be bring to both physical and mental health. Schools are invited to join active travel schemes, such as Modeshift, in order to encourage families to switch from driving to active travel choices, in turn making the roads safer and cleaner as traffic volumes decrease.

But what is perhaps lesser known within school communities is the benefits active travel can have on educational attainment.  Dr Darshana Bhattacharjee’s 2015 research highlights the benefits of active travel to school, concluding; ‘There is convincing evidence that physical activity and fitness levels in school children is associated with better academic scores and improved classroom behaviour.’ Equally, a Danish study of  nearly 20,000 students found those who walked or cycled “have an increased power of concentration, and the effect of this ‘exercise’ lasts all morning.”’

So why is it so few families do indeed walk or cycle to school?

The answer it seems, is our roads. Land transport accidents are the biggest cause of death for young people aged 5 to 19 and parents are rightly concerned about whether the healthy travel choice is actually the safe travel choice.

As a governor, parents’ and carers’ travel choices may seem a difficult thing to influence but this is decidedly not the case and in fact, an active travel plan ought to be a key facet of any school improvement plan.

Reaching out and forging connections with the local community and elected representatives is hugely important and can achieve great things. Inviting councillors or cabinet members to attend school play streets can open up discussions about what kind of community the school wishes to be part of.  Working in partnership with other local schools can also strengthen relationships with local authorities, so that road engineering treatments can be directed around schools, creating safer walking and cycling routes to enable active travel, as recommended by the recent NICE paper on physical activity and the environment. Furthermore, making sure your school has a school travel plan and is using SMART targets to meet the goals within it is vital.

This may seem a challenge, give that the agenda of an average governors' meeting is often jam-packed with little room for non-data related topics. However, there are ways of making safer, active travel a whole school priority. Dan Kelly, a parent governor at Stoneydown Park Primary School in Waltham Forest describes how he 'made himself useful' before talking to the headteacher about his plans for a road closure scheme on their school street .

"Because I was the link governor for SEND, I spent a lot of time in school and had really established a positive working relationship with the SLT before asking for time at one of our governors meetings to present on active travel.  Luckily, our head is really supportive of this kind of whole school, healthy lifestyles approach and we were able to go to our local authority as a united community when asking for the quite radical changes we wished to see.

It took some time, but we're really proud of the fact that our council supported our proposals, putting in the road closure we asked for. We've seen the number of cars passing the school drop by 1000 journeys per day and an equivalent rise in cycling traffic, which is phenomenal."

Such proposals may seem radical today given how many children in the UK are driven to school each day. Yet as studies demonstrate the disproportionate effect poor air quality from motor traffic can have on children’s health (and indeed future health), it may be time to acknowledge that being radical is now the only way forward.

What you can do to help:

1. Ask about your schooltravel plan and how active travel rates are monitored.  Schools in London can become accredited using the Transport for London STARS scheme (https://stars.tfl.gov.uk/) and Modeshift STARS is the national scheme (https://modeshiftstars.org/). Accredited schools are often able to use their work for these schemes as evidence when applying for grants and active travel funding.

2. Read the National Education Union and British Lung Foundation ‘air pollution health advice for schools’ (available online at https://neu.org.uk/latest/national-education-union-and-british-lung-foundation-launch-air-pollution-health-advice).  
The Cleaner Air 4 Primary Schools toolkit was designed for schools in London, but is filled with activities for launching an air quality awareness campaign in school (https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/ca4s_toolkit.pdf).

3. Contact your local politicians.  Invite councillors or cabinet members to visit the school at peak time if you wish to highlight an issue; alternatively or to celebrate your achievements. Many councils are creating informal clean air zones and good practice clusters, aiming to get schools working together, trialling new measures. 

4. Organise a play street. A temporary road closure, even as a one off, might do much to start the conversation about what road safety means to your school community. Theme it around clean air or  road safety and invite a charity such as ‘Idling Action’ or your local road safety officers, to highlight the impact driving to school has on children’s health and wellbeing.

5. Find out what parents think. It may be that many parents are interested in active travel but feel too intimidated by the road and traffic conditions in the local area. A parent champion can work wonders; organising play streets, running cycle skills sessions and building support from other parents are all vital if bigger changes are to happen.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Living Streets Walking Summit March 2018

The main themes of the day were:

·       The benefits of walking: health, social cohesion, economic, environmental
·       How to make London into a great walking place as currently there is a gross misallocation of space with overcrowded streets. Cross Rail bringing more people in, London made of medieval streets and large 19thcentury created streets. 
·       How to make walking more compelling – artwork, landscape, views, air quality, sense of community street events, using redundant spaces.
·       Need for walking network, joined up routes to reduce short tube journeys, pressure off public transport. Review of pedestrian crossings, improved timings for pedestrians on crossings, diagonal crossings. Walking improvements never become obsolete, unlike docking bikes v dockless bikes for example.
·       Make environments attractive to encourage active travel. Use technology, data i.e. Citymapper. Smart streets, using technology to manage traffic flows, looking at innovation. Improve Google maps to include improved walking/cycling routes. 
·       Need business engagement (Camden High Line and Walk Elephant campaign has been backed by local business). 
·       20mph speed limit to be enforced properly. 
·       Looking at congestion charging 24/7/surcharge after 6pm or user charging.
·       Schools – Living Streets walk to school, Sports premium funding (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pe-and-sport-premium-funding-allocations-for-2017-to-2018) can be used for active travel. Close school streets before and after school. Bridge between school travel and policy makers. School Travel Plans treated as tick boxes. There is a need to change hearts and minds and get parents and governors more involved. 
·       Children – Street play in residential and on school streets, playing out, temporary play street orders. Design into streets?
·       Need to plan for the future. Planning framework for London healthy streets is now embedded. Review schemes that are in the pipeline to improve sustainable travel. Incremental benefits of lots of small schemes. Not to think of London as a single city but in zones as there are different issues with central, inner and outer London.  
·       Local Authorities have a key role in local walking and cycling plans as Government funding is directed to LAs. Need to consult with much wider communities as poorer communities tend to get the worse deal. LAs should do public engagement and not just consultations. 
·       Looking at urban development to ensure walking and cycling is incorporated in planning. If you want a modal shift you need logical standards. Instead of predicting what traffic needs, envision and validate new modes – walking as a core of transport mode be built into all planning policies and in infrastructure and neighbourhood plans (most developments of last 10 years have taken no account of modal shift). New buildings not to have excessive parking and to have bike parking as planning regulation.
·       How can citizens be involved in travel planning? Plans costing over £200,000, must be published with Healthy Streets checklist. Campaigning needs to be active, rigorous and persistent; important to be active on social media. Pick priorities - physical activity, road traffic injuries, air quality, noise and severance, and then frame these priorities. 
·       Accessibility and fairness, everyone should be able to access streets. Safety is paramount as pedestrian accidents are increasing.
·       Walking cities – a European perspective. Pascal Smet, Brussels Minister, spoke about walking and cycling improvements in Brussels and how the vision was sold with the main objective of improving quality of life and air. Interaction between people in cities is important, if we give cities away to cars we destroy neighbourhoods. Brussels on foot app, useful tool. During the consultation periods, there was a website showing photographs of existing areas with an overlay showing the new design (before and after), this was a very powerful tool to win hearts and minds.
·       Car lobby in EU still very strong, we need more sustainable travel activists, very important to instigate change. Politicians rely on votes, lobby fast as car lobby gets in very quickly. 
·      Generational issue, 17 to 34 not tied to cars, owning a car is something of the past, Smet thought cars will be shared electric vehicles in the next 10 to 15 years in cities. 

Friday, 6 July 2018


 SRS was among over 200 delegates attending the 7th Hackney Cycling Conference 2018 to hear experts from the UK and Europe speak about creating liveable cities and healthy neighbourhoods. We were particularly interested in learning more about Hackney’s pilot project to close school streets during drop-off and pick-up times. Schools can download the School Streets Timed Traffic Restrictions Toolkit for Professionals from July or email sta@hackney.gov.uk

Speakers and campaign groups were focussed on highlighting the substantial evidence which demonstrates that improving conditions for cycling goes hand in hand with creating safer surroundings for pedestrians and improving public transport and air quality. Low traffic neighbourhoods enhance community and diversity on the streets and improve mental and physical health.

Evidence demonstrated:

   The real danger on our roads comes from motor vehicles. This danger has not been reduced; instead we have removed other road users
   Creating safe conditions for cyclists means latent demand is unlocked and more people cycle. If cycling feels like an extreme sport, they won’t
   Improvements in cycling infrastructure in Copenhagen led to a 33% reduction in traffic
   11% of drivers on Quietway 1 now cycle. Quietways are popular
   Changing road layout in Salisbury Road, SE17 led to a 71% reduction in vehicle traffic, an 83% increase in walking and expanded green space
   Around 15% of traffic evaporates when the emphasis on public space shifts from vehicles to people. In other words, traffic isn’t displaced but people change to healthier modes of travel
   Emergency services do not complain about low traffic measures. Their complaint in fact is that sat navs are not updated
   Focussing on moving people and goods rather than vehicles maximises efficiency
   People who are not in cars use shops and spend locally, even in adverse weather. Footfall goes up
   Places good for people attract business and provide jobs
   Streets become places to spend time, not just thoroughfares. Children play in streets again
   Improving streets for people is politically popular

The themes that keep coming up: 

   The need for political vision, leadership and sustained investment
   The importance of complete networks - door to door
   Focus on moving people, not vehicles
   Importance of good design and maintaining infrastructure
   Provision of good quality, affordable public transport
   Air quality 
   Enforcement of road rules
   Huge latentdemandfor safe cycling and walking 
   Successful schemes are popular and reduce future opposition 
   Clear use of language and data so people understand the benefits

We got some ideas about influencing behaviour change: 

   Linking up separate campaigns
   Gaining the support of political leaders and a critical mass of local authorities to create active travel zones, clean air zones and safe networks
   Using videos of dangerous driving so parents and residents understand the real risks from which proposedsolutionsarise 
   Following up with packs including banners and post cards all emphasising the data and quality of life evidence
   Getting police on board to help with enforcement 
   Information packs to help plan routes
   Publicising cycling apps and travel planning apps
   Rewarding engagement, not just distance travelled

SRS was able to attend the conference due to the support of JAPS. Many thanks!