New data reveals huge disparities in action to improve health of Londoners
- New Scorecard ranks how well boroughs are doing at creating healthier streets
- Concerns of worsening health inequities as gap widens between ‘best’ and ‘worst’ areas
- Rapid rollout of ‘School Streets’ and substantial reduction in car ownership seen in parts of London
New data released today by the Healthy Streets Scorecard coalition reveals a gulf between the boroughs shown to be the best and worst at delivering healthier and more sustainable mobility in London with the top scorers continuing to demonstrate that it’s possible to deliver Healthy Streets and transport decarbonisation amid a funding crisis, and in an election year.
Highest scoring London boroughs were the City, Islington, Hackney and Camden in Inner London. Waltham Forest again outperforms some Inner boroughs to become the top Outer borough and Richmond overtakes Merton to take second place there. Southwark is the top South London borough.
Lowest scoring boroughs Hillingdon, then Barking & Dagenham and Redbridge are the boroughs with the unhealthiest streets in London, so far reluctant to deliver bold schemes to tackle the health and climate crises.
The London Boroughs Healthy Streets Scorecard sets out data showing the health of each borough’s streets according to a series of indicators. This year’s updated scores showed wide gaps on all indicators:
% of streets with Low Traffic Neighbourhood
% of schools with traffic-free School Streets
0% (Bexley, Hammersmith & Fulham, Sutton)
School STARS (% of maximum possible points in promoting sustainable travel to school)
11% (Barking & Dagenham*)
% of streets within a Controlled Parking Zone
100% (City of London, Islington**, Kensington & Chelsea**, Tower Hamlets**, Westminster**)
20mph speed limits as % of borough managed roads
100% (19 boroughs have a 20mph default speed limit)
Cars registered per 100 households
% of polluting diesel cars
Notable findings include:
- New data on bus priority. Alongside this year’s Scorecard, the coalition published data on the proportion of total length of bus route in each borough which is “prioritised” for buses using either measures like bus lanes or Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (through which the buses can travel more reliably). We also published a map showing all London bus routes, all bus lanes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. The data shows a wide variation in the proportion of bus route prioritised in each borough. Among inner London boroughs: in Hackney, Islington and Lambeth 40%-50% of routes are prioritised; in Haringey, Lewisham, Wandsworth and Camden around 30%; in Tower Hamlets, Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham only around 20% of routes are prioritised; and in Kensington & Chelsea just 5% of routes are prioritised. Among the outer London boroughs, Ealing (18%), Barking and Dagenham (15%) and Merton (15%) have the highest scores; but Bexley, Bromley, Redbridge, Barnet and Sutton had the lowest scores (less than 5% of routes are prioritised) and just 1% of routes are prioritised in bottom-of the-table Bexley.
- Some boroughs have scored higher (or lower) than we would expect given their population density. The more densely populated boroughs have an advantage in the Scorecard so this year the coalition also published data showing the scores adjusted for housing density. Waltham Forest, Camden and Richmond Upon Thames have achieved a higher score than predicted by their density. Tower Hamlets, Barking & Dagenham and Hillingdon all performed worse.
- Car ownership. The biggest falls were mainly seen in boroughs which have worked hardest to encourage a switch to walking, cycling and public transport: these included the three boroughs which came overall top of the Healthy Streets Scorecard this year – Islington, Hackney and Camden, along with the top-scoring South London borough Southwark and the top-scoring Outer London borough Waltham Forest. The total number of cars registered in London fell by 1.5% (38,923 fewer cars) compared to 0.5% in 2021 and 0.0% in 2020 1 with particularly big falls in Newham at 4.0% (2,860 fewer cars), then Southwark 3.7% (2,145 cars), Camden 3.2% (1,331) and Waltham Forest 2.9% (2,260). There are still 2.6 million cars in London taking up 30 million square metres of space – more than 4,200 full size football pitches. 2
- Strongest action this year by all boroughs was on ‘School Streets’, with most boroughs delivering schemes that reduce traffic outside schools at pick-up and drop-off time. School Streets now cover 15% of schools, up from 2% two years ago.
- Polluting cars: data shows that inner London boroughs which charge extra for diesel car parking permits are successfully reducing diesel car ownership compared to those that don’t. For the first time, the Healthy Streets Scorecard now also includes data on the proportion of polluting cars owned in each borough. Data shows differences between Inner London boroughs, for instance Camden (17% diesel cars), which operates a diesel surcharge on resident parking permits, and Wandsworth (22% diesel cars), which has no emissions-based parking tariffs.
- Road danger not reducing fast enough. There were 3,581 fatal and serious reported road casualties in 2021 compared to 3,070 in 2020 and an average of 3,950 in the 3 years prior to 2020. In 2021 casualties amongst cyclists and those using “other vehicles” were above pre-pandemic average levels (with the ‘other vehicle’ category now seeing the impact of casualties among e-scooter riders). Much stronger action is needed to eliminate road casualties entirely.
A coalition spokesperson said: “These results raise serious concerns about worsening health inequities as the gap widens between highest and lowest scoring boroughs.
“In spite of difficulties, some boroughs have still managed to make progress. With the top scorers continuing to demonstrate it’s possible to deliver Healthy Streets and transport decarbonisation amid a funding crisis, and in an election year – the question remains, why are others not delivering?
“With new council administrations in place after the May elections, a sharp rise in delivery of all of the initiatives that are covered by the Healthy Streets Scorecard indicators is now needed if all Londoners are to have healthy streets and if boroughs are to tackle the crises of climate, pollution, inactivity-related ill health and road danger.”
- The total number of cars registered in London has dropped each of the past three years but this year’s drop is significantly bigger (1.47%) than previous years (2020 data showed a drop of 0.01%, and 2021 0.49%). As of December 2021 there were 2,609,165 cars registered in London.↩
- Percentage decrease in number of cars registered in each London borough between Dec20 and Dec21.↩