Thursday, 28 June 2018

Tour of Waltham Forest Mini-Holland

In 2013 the Mayor’s office asked outer London boroughs to bid for funds to create “mini-hollands”, or schemes promoting active travel. Of the three boroughs which won, Waltham Forest’s programme has attracted the most interest and some controversy. What exactly has the Council done? In its own words:

“Since securing £27 million from Transport for London in 2013, the Enjoy Waltham Forest scheme has installed more than 22km of segregated and semi-segregated cycle lanes, trained more than 5,000 adults and children to cycle safely, created pedestrianised routes and timed road closures, reduced congestion in local town centres, supported the launch of a zero emissions delivery service, seen thousands of new trees and plants installed in new pocket parks and planter beds, and contributed to better road safety and air quality for all residents and road users.” (See here)

This is what we saw:

  • Very few vehicle journeys on residential streets
  • Quiet, calm, green streets at school pick up time
  • Quieter, greener residential streets
  • New and upgraded pedestrian crossings prioritising pedestrians
  • Wider pavements
  • Mini parks, new trees and wildflower planters
  • Dedicated cycle lanes
  • Connected walking and cycling routes, aiming for door-to-door networks
  • Cycle hubs and cycle hangars to make parking and storing bikes easy
  • A different driving culture: drivers are less aggressive and road rules are observed
  • People sitting at outside tables beside quiet, green roads

This is what we learned:

  • 1 in 5 car journeys in Walthamstow were to take children less than a mile to and from school - an extra 5,000 - 6,000 local car journeys. The scheme aimed to make it safe for those journeys to be walked or cycled
  • Physical interventions to discourage rat running (modal filters) can be low cost, effective, environmentally friendly, green, improve the streetscape and encourage community interaction
  • Air quality has improved
  • Footfall is up for business
  • As changes have been implemented, the response has been positive and active travel has increased (Waltham Forest’s programme won the People’s Choice Award 2018 at the Institute of Civil Engineers awards)
  • Walking and cycling journeys have increased, including people cycling more than once a week
  • More women and minorities cycle and more people use their mobility scooters
  • Roads have seen daily vehicle movements fall, sometimes dramatically

Since our visit the results of Dr Rachel Aldred's study into the impact of the Mini-Holland schemes was published (available under open-access here). This story was published in The Guardian on June 26th with the headline, 'Mini-Holland Schemes have proved their worth'.