Progress on making London’s streets healthy and safe far too slow to meet Mayor’s own targets, say transport campaigners as they launch a new website where Londoners can see where their borough ranks
New data 1 published this week shows far too slow progress by London’s boroughs, TfL and Mayor, during the 12 months preceding lockdown, in making London’s streets healthy and safe. The 2020 London Boroughs Healthy Streets Scorecard reflects the health of boroughs’ streets up to March 2020, before boroughs started to put in place emergency measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While the results don’t reflect the incredibly hard work which is going in right now to enable more walking and cycling, they do indicate London is failing to enable enough people to shift away from car ownership and use. One stand-out result, for example, is that car registrations in London reduced by just 268 over one year, compared to the Mayor’s Transport Strategy target which is for there to be 12,500 fewer cars per year, every year until 2041.” 2
“It remains to be seen if the Mayor’s current Streetspace Plan, and independent action by boroughs to enable more walking and cycling, significantly accelerates progress towards higher scores; it should certainly be used as an opportunity to do so. We will need to wait for the results of the 2021 Scorecard to reflect on the outcomes of all this work.”
The campaigners from seven organisations have formed a coalition 3 to track council progress on the Mayor’s “Healthy Streets” indicators year-on-year. They say the pace of change shown in the year preceding lockdown was far too slow to tackle the coming climate crisis, to enable a “green recovery” from the Covid-19 pandemic, to tackle inactivity levels that are crippling NHS budgets and to achieve the Mayor’s “Vision Zero” on road danger.
They say there’s a huge amount boroughs could do to deliver substantial change, rapidly, even within restricted budgets, but it isn’t being done. 4
The coalition is also today, 6 July, launching a Healthy Streets Scorecard website 5 which they hope will help boroughs compare how well they are doing in relation to other boroughs and identify areas for future action. They say it will also help Londoners find out how healthy their streets are and show how to join them in calling for change.
In terms of the key London-wide outcomes campaigners are tracking, the changes from 2019 to 2020 Scorecard data, show:
- Only 1% increase in share of journeys made by ‘sustainable mode of transport’ i.e. public transport, walking and cycling
- No discernable overall change in the number of people walking or cycling regularly
- Only 268 fewer cars in London compared to the target of 250,000 fewer by 2041
- An increase in serious and fatal pedestrian and cyclist road collision casualties. (This is mainly due to changes to the way severity of injury is recorded: nonetheless, the Mayor’s target is zero casualties.)
Some boroughs better than others, but all must do much more
The results also highlight huge disparities on borough action and outcomes even comparing only inner (or outer) London boroughs to each other.
- In Inner London, Camden is the new chart-topper followed closely by Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Islington (who all score equally) in the overall results for 2020. These boroughs have done well to introduce 20mph speed limits and Controlled Parking Zones and to a lesser extent Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Cycle Track and traffic-free streets around schools. They still have much more to do, though. Lewisham scores lowest of the Inner London boroughs with Kensington & Chelsea and Wandsworth not far ahead.*
- In Outer London, accolades go to Haringey which scores highest, with Waltham Forest close behind. Havering, Hillingdon, Redbridge and Bexley are the bottom of the table with little sign of improvement.
*NOTE: The City of London scores well in many indicators but it is not primarily a residential borough and it was felt that comparisons with the other London Boroughs may be unhelpful. So, while the City’s scores are set out in the data and graphs and reflected in the commentary for all Inner London, the commentary does not always reflect the results from the City for individual indicators.
The overall score for boroughs is made up of scores for 4 ‘outcome’ indicators and 5 ‘input’ indicators. The range of results remains very wide for all indicators even when looking just at Inner or Outer London boroughs
On the four outcome indicators
- The proportion of trips made by ‘sustainable mode’ (i.e. public transport, walking or cycling) is just 41% in Hillingdon but 88% in the highest scoring borough Hackney.
- The proportion of adults walking more than five times a week varies between 29% in Barking & Dagenham and 53% in the City of London; and the proportion of adults cycling more than five times a week varies between just 1% in Sutton and 14% in Hackney.
- The highest rate of serious or fatal casualties is in Hackney with 13 per 100,000 journey stages, more than double the lowest rate in both Croydon and Greenwich with 5 per 100,000 journey stages.
- There remains a dramatic difference in reliance on cars with 127 cars registered for every 100 households in Hillingdon compared to just 35 in Islington. 70% of households have no car in Islington, Westminster, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Camden but just 23% of households in Bromley, Havering and Sutton operate without a car.
In terms of the five ‘input’ measures that boroughs can implement to deliver healthier streets:
- 20mph speed limits are widespread in some boroughs with over 95% of streets covered in Southwark, Hackney and Islington but fewer than 5% in Bromley and Barnet.
- ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods’. Most boroughs have done almost nothing in the way of installing modal filters to block through-traffic from residential areas. Hackney has the most, over one hundred in total, but local campaigners say this is still only roughly half of what is needed.
- Six boroughs now have 100% controlled parking but just 9% of roads in Bromley and Sutton have controlled parking and one inner London borough, Lewisham, has a very low rate at just 24%.
- There are also wide differences in the amount of existing protected cycle track: Westminster, Tower Hamlets and Enfield have the most; Croydon, Brent and Kensington & Chelsea the least.
- Islington has installed traffic-free ‘school streets’ at 16% of its schools but 13 boroughs have yet to install any. In terms of STARS points, which reflect action on sustainable travel to school, Bromley has 60% of the maximum possible but Barking and Dagenham has only 9%.
QUOTES FROM CAMPAIGNERS
“In the middle of a respiratory crisis, it’s incredible to see some London boroughs surging ahead in taking action. But there are still so many that don’t appear to connect our chronic car use levels with the horrific outcomes unnecessary car journeys inflict on residents. Pollution-related ill health, climate changing emissions, and road danger disproportionately impact our most vulnerable,” said Jane Dutton of Mums for Lungs.
“We want every borough to do much more. Indeed every borough will need to do much more to meet the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and help us avert the worst of the climate crisis, though some council bosses have shown strong leadership and willingness to make changes, for instance in Waltham Forest where they are controlling parking, cutting off rat-runs, limiting speeds to 20mph and putting in protected cycle lane,” said Simon Munk of London Cycling Campaign.
“The pace of change was excruciatingly slow before we encountered Covid19, with little or no progress in many if not most parts of London, even though we’re facing air pollution and climate crises. Boroughs are now working hard to put in emergency measures to make sure people can walk and cycle safely as we emerge from lockdown, and that’s great. But our council leaders need to be much bolder and continue to make major changes in the coming years,” said Alice Roberts of CPRE London.
“Some boroughs are starting to make the right moves, removing heavy traffic from residential areas, cutting off rat-runs and putting cycle lanes on main roads. But others are really not yet out of the starting blocks,” said Jeremy Leach of London Living Streets.
“There’s no reason for delay and many reasons to crack on, not least the shocking levels of casualties on our roads. We want our local politicians to be unflinching and for Londoners to get behind them and support change,” said Victoria Lebrec of Roadpeace.
- The 2020 London Boroughs Heathy Streets Scorecard is published at www.healthystreetsscorecard.london. It ranks London Boroughs on how healthy their streets are according to nine indicators (four ‘outcome’ and five ‘input’ indicators). By combining the indicator scores, each borough is given a final Healthy Streets score.
- http://planning.data.tfl.gov.uk/ Download LIP3 MTS outcomes borough data pack – September 2019.xlsx and see Outcome 3C Car Ownership.
- The London Boroughs Healthy Streets Scorecard Coalition (CONTACTS ON REQUEST):
• CPRE London – Alice Roberts
• London Living Streets – Jeremy Leach / Emma Griffin
• London Cycling Campaign – Simon Munk
• Sustrans – Cliff Matsuya
• Roadpeace – Victoria Lebrec
• Mums for Lungs – Jane Dutton / Melissa Compton-Edwards
• Future Transport London – Chris Barker
- The London Boroughs Healthy Streets Scorecard coalition wants boroughs to implement five key measures. These measures will dramatically improve air quality and road safety, boost active lifestyles and reduce carbon emissions – often literally overnight:
1. Borough-wide Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
2. A default 20mph speed limit on all borough and Transport for London controlled roads
3. Borough-wide controlled parking
4. Protected cycle lanes on main roads
5. Traffic-free streets around all schools and safe walking and cycling routes to school
- www.healthystreetsscorecard.london [results and news pages will be published 10am on Monday, 6 July 2020]