The Healthy Streets Scorecard shows to what extent London Boroughs are putting in place five key measures which will dramatically improve air quality and road safety, boost active lifestyles and reduce carbon emissions – these are what we call ‘input’ indicators. It also sets out data to show the health of each borough’s streets – what we call ‘outcome’ indicators. By combining the scores for the nine indicators we give each borough a final Healthy Streets score.
This section explains why we have chosen these nine indicators. As appropriate, we will aim to add other robust indicators in future editions.
Four ‘outcome’ indicators are used in the Scorecard to show how healthy a borough’s streets are currently.
2. Active Travel Rate
This measures the proportion of residents making at least five journeys by cycling or five journeys by walking, weekly. These are considered vital to ensure residents reach recommended daily activity levels.
If exercise were a pill, everyone would want to take it, say the health experts. It keeps hearts healthy, keeps blood pumping to organs and makes people feel good. Physical activity is proven to reduce the risk of colon cancer and type 2 diabetes by up to 50%, breast cancer up to 20%, heart disease and stroke up to 35%, and the risk of early death by up to 30%. It is also a boost for mental health, helps people sleep well, improves self-esteem and reduces risk of depression and dementia (Benefits of exercise, NHS). Physical activity is particularly essential in childhood to help bodies grow and strengthen bones.
The Mayor’s aim is, by 2041, for all Londoners to do at least the 20 minutes of active travel they need to stay healthy each day. Children aged five to 18 are recommended to do at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity activity (brisk walking or cycling) each day, while adults are recommended to do 150 minutes each week (two ten-minute periods of moderate activity) or more. Everyone should be active every day and minimise the amount of time they spend sitting.
The easiest way to achieve this is by building exercise into daily travel routines: the walk to school, a walk to a station or bus stop, or a cycle to work. Walking is free, it is open to everyone regardless of income or employment and does not require specialist equipment. With the right infrastructure and environments, walking and cycling are also important for the health of disabled people.
By contrast, car journeys involve less than one minute of physical activity, compared to the 8-15 minutes of physical activity on the average public transport journey, the 17 minutes if the journey is made by foot and the 22 minutes if cycled. (Physical activity benefits for adults and older adults: Mayor’s Transport Strategy, GLA, 2018, Health Impact of Cars in London, 2015 and Transport and Health in London, 2014)
- If Londoners walked or cycled for 20 minutes a day it would save £1.7 billion in NHS treatment costs over 25 years.
- Each additional hour spent travelling in a car per day is associated with a 6% increase in the likelihood of becoming obese. Each additional kilometre walked per day is associated with a 4.8% reduction in the likelihood of becoming obese.
Just 34% of adult Londoners achieve the recommended level of activity and just three in ten children reach the recommended 60 minutes of moderate activity a day. (Health Survey for England 2015, NHS Digital)
More than one third of all car trips made by Londoners are less than 2km so there is huge potential to switch more journeys to walking or cycling. It is estimated that almost 5 million journeys per day that could be walked or cycled are currently made by car.
3. Road Collision Casualties
This indicator shows the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed and seriously injured (KSI) for each borough (average over last three years), when compared to the overall level of walking and cycling journey stages originating in the borough. This reflects the actual road danger in an area. But the real and perceived risk of motor traffic also means people are discouraged from walking and cycling and achieving the health benefits they bring. Road danger is the most often cited reason why people do not walk or cycle more.
In 2018, TfL launched its Vision Zero Action Plan to meet a target that, by 2041, no one would be killed or seriously injured on the road in London.
Where are we now?
In 2018, 4,065 people were killed or seriously injured (KSI) on London’s roads (up 5% from 2017), including 112 fatalities. A further 26,526 people sustained ‘slight’ injuries (not serious or fatal) more than two every day in every borough. (Casualties in Greater London during 2018, TfL)
While safety has increased amongst car occupants, the risk on London’s roads has shifted towards those walking and cycling (as well as those riding motor cycles). These groups now make up 81% of fatalities and 79% of serious injuries on London’s roads, despite making up the minority of journey stages.
- people walking accounted for 33% of serious injuries, 51% of fatalities (28% modeshare)
- people cycling accounted for 19% of serious injuries, 11% of fatalities (3% of modal share)
- but car occupants accounted for only 15% of serious injuries and 14% of fatalities though car journeys represent 41% of modal share.
It is important to understand that KSI collision statistics do not include minor collisions and those where emergency services are not contacted. It is also worth remembering that streets with low KSIs might also be an indication that an area is so dangerous, so hostile to walking and cycling that few try to walk or cycle so are not put at risk. Nonetheless, this measure gives an indication of how safe a borough’s streets are.
Several policies contribute to reducing deaths and serious injuries. In London these have been grouped under the umbrella of Vision Zero, a target for no one to be killed or seriously injured on London’s roads by 2041. Policies include:
Reducing Traffic Volumes
Reduces road danger at source by removing opportunities for collisions between vehicles and vehicles and people walking and cycling. Examples of this might be low traffic neighbourhoods.
Reducing Vehicle Speeds
Research shows that there are potential casualty savings of up to 40% if maximum vehicle speeds can be reduced to 20mph in built-up areas/places where people and vehicles mix.
Designing streets that encourage people to walk, cycle and take public transport, keep vehicle speeds low, allow people to cross the road safely and easily.
Reducing the risk that vehicle pose, for example introducing a Direct Vision Standard on HGVs and installing Autonomous Emergency Braking and Intelligent Speed Assistance/Adaptation (ISA) on motor vehicles.
Improving the behaviour of people using our roads.
Post-collision learning and criminal justice
Understanding the causes of collisions is fundamental to learning from them and preventing their reoccurrence. The link between collisions and their criminal justice outcomes needs to be more transparent.
Embedding & Promoting Vision Zero
It takes enormous effort to put these policies at the heart of a Highway/Transport Authority and actions will be needed through the Transport and Administrative Authority more widely. Significant effort is also needed to promote Vision Zero to communities and their representatives.
4. Car Ownership Rates
Car ownership rates tell us a lot about the extent to which people are willing and/or able to live entirely without owning a car.
This is a composite indicator. It shows the average number of cars registered per household but also the proportion of households which are living without a car, reflecting both the availability of suitable alternative modes of transport as well as Londoners’ willingness to shift to other modes and perhaps make occasional use instead of car clubs, car rentals or taxis.
Where are we now?
The Mayor’s target is for there to be 250,000 fewer cars registered in London by 2041. This represents only a 10% reduction from the current situation (2020) which is that there are around 2.6 million cars registered in London.
Nearly half of all London households don’t have a car (45%). In Inner London, around two thirds of households already do not have a car. Even in Outer London one third of households do not have a car.
Car ownership is also linked to how much walking and cycling Londoners do. As outlined in Health Impacts of Cars in London, walking levels decrease significantly as household car ownership increases. Children living in households without access to a vehicle are 2.3 times more likely to walk to school than children living in households with vehicle access.
This is also an important indicator because, as London becomes more densely populated, the ratio of cars per household will need to reduce. Between 30,000 and 50,000 new homes are being built per year in London and this figure is set to increase and it is becoming more common for new developments to be ‘car free’ (where tenants or owners are not allowed to have a parking permit) to avoid more cars being registered to London addresses.
Thinking about those who do not have access to a car is also an important consideration. They are more likely to be older people, younger people and people on low incomes.
Given that cars are expensive to own and run and that parking for privately owned cars takes up a huge amount of space, and given the obvious fact that more car ownership means more car journeys – there is a real need for boroughs and the Mayor alike to enable more people to live without cars.
There are many boroughs where the vast majority of households live without a car and this raises clear social justice issues about the many negative impacts of private car use when the majority of people do not own or use a private car.
The Scorecard also shows to what extent councils are putting in place five key measures (or ‘input’ indicators) which can help to deliver “Healthy Streets” outcomes.
Why were these five specific measures chosen?
- Primarily they were chosen because they are among the most important actions that councils can take to reduce air pollution, increase active travel rates and improve safety. They are shown to deliver healthy streets outcomes.
- Rapid progress on these measures is possible for every borough, regardless of demographics, public transport provision, health indicators or income: they are mainly low cost and easy to put in place, relative to many other transport schemes.
- They require political leadership and indicate additionally where a council is working successfully with residents to make change happen.
- They align closely to the ten key indicators of the Mayor’s Healthy Streets approach and particularly those that are key to delivering health outcomes.
- Data is publicly available, and updates are likely to be available in future so that the Scorecard can be published year-on-year to measure progress.
5. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods / Modal filters
This indicator measures the proportion of a borough’s roads which have been ‘filtered’ (using bollards, barriers or other means) to prevent through motor traffic from passing through residential streets. The idea is that residents, emergency services, deliveries and services can still drive onto streets (albeit potentially via longer routes), but it is no longer possible to drive straight through from one main road to the next. People cycling can still pass through these filters.
Groups of streets where through traffic has been reduced or removed create “low traffic neighbourhoods”. These very quickly result in healthier lifestyles because they encourage more walking, cycling, play and community activity and because air is cleaner, and the roads are safer, quieter and more attractive. More widespread low traffic neighbourhoods would make a major contribution to achieving healthy streets targets.
One concern with low traffic neighbourhoods is that motor traffic displaced onto main roads may lead to increased congestion and air pollution. Experience reveals that predictions of traffic problems caused by low-traffic neighbourhoods almost always fail to materialise, and that significant reductions in overall traffic levels across an area (including on nearby main roads) can happen as a result of people making a wide range of behavioural responses to the new traffic configurations.
One of these behaviour changes is a shift to more walking and cycling. Just one year after the implementation of low-traffic neighbourhood schemes in Waltham Forest in Outer London, residents were walking 32 minutes, and cycling on average nine minutes, more per week.
This demonstrates that if councils improve the conditions for walking and cycling (and make driving just a little more inconvenient), people do change their behaviour. And as time goes on, as active travel becomes embedded in lifestyles, more will follow leading to long-term change over an entire area.
Key information and research
- London Living Streets and London Cycling Campaign have produced two pamphlets including a short Introduction and a detailed guide for council officers. (Low Traffic Neighbourhoods material)
- London Borough of Waltham Forest has installed 40 modal filters and 15 new pocket parks, turning nearly a third of its residential areas into low traffic neighbourhoods.
- People are living longer, are less exposed to air pollution and getting more exercise as a result of the traffic filtering in Waltham Forest. (Waltham Forest Council article)
- More people walk or cycle in suburban neighbourhoods where through-traffic has been removed or reduced. (Impacts of an active travel intervention with a cycling focus in a suburban context: One-year findings from an evaluation of London’s in-progress mini-Hollands programme, ScienceDirect)
- Evidence suggests that low traffic neighbourhoods do not have dramatic impacts on main roads either in terms of congestion or air quality.
6. 20mph Speed Limits
The scorecard measures the proportion of a borough’s road network (excluding the TfL-managed TLRN or Red Route network) which is subject to a 20mph limit. 20mph limits are shown to reduce road casualties; help boost levels of walking and cycling by making streets feel safer; reduce air pollution; and make neighbourhoods quieter, nicer places to be. Lower maximum vehicle speeds reduce the number and severity of road casualties. Streets with lower speed limits also seem safer so encourage a wider range of people to cycle or walk. Vehicles traveling at lower speed limits are also quieter, less intrusive and pollute less. Neighbourhoods with 20mph limits therefore tend to be nicer, cleaner places to be.
Key information and research
- People hit by a vehicle travelling at 30mph are four times more likely to die than those hit at 20mph.
- Reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph typically results in more than 20% fewer casualties.
- For people cycling, the introduction of 20mph limits (alone) is linked to 21% lower injury odds compared to 30mph roads.
- Even small reductions in speed make a difference. Each 1mph reduction in average traffic speed is associated with a 6% reduction in collisions.
- Lower speed limits improve public health by encouraging more people to be active or to walk and cycle.
- Fear of motor traffic is one of the biggest reasons why people choose not to cycle, with 44% of people saying they would cycle more if the roads were safer and 26% who would travel less by car if the conditions for walking locally were better. (Parliamentary Environmental Audit Select Committee Written Evidence)
- Trials of 20mph limits in Edinburgh found that the proportion of children cycling to school rose from 4 percent to 12 percent in 20mph zones.
- Lower speed limits cut noise and air pollution.
- The introduction of 30kph zones in Germany led to drivers changing gear less, braking less, and requiring 12 percent less fuel.
- Excessive traffic noise is linked to several health effects including stress, cognitive impairment in children, disrupted sleep and even heart disease.
- 20’s Plenty for Us has produced 20 questions and answers about 20mph limits, highlighting benefits and common misconceptions.
7. Controlled Parking Zones
The scorecard measures the proportion of a borough’s roads that are under some form of Controlled Parking (data supplied by AppyWay). Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) are areas where on-street parking is controlled during specified times. They are the most effective way of managing parking demand, are commonly used in busy areas across the UK and play an important role in encouraging the shift towards more sustainable modes of transport.
Parking permits do represent a new cost for car-owing residents (though this can be kept low). But CPZs bring significant benefits to all Londoners.
- CPZs reduce traffic and pollution by discouraging vehicles from driving through or to the borough, for example to park and commute. Fewer cars on local roads means less congestion, noise and air pollution. CPZs reduce commuter parking and discourage ‘switchable trips’ (short trips which could readily be made by other transport modes).
- Less nuisance parking and better access for emergency and utility vehicles like rubbish and recycling trucks. CPZs reduce nuisance and dangerous parking, for example parking on pavements or blocking access.
- Where visitor and commuter parking is particularly pressured, CPZs mean it’s easier for residents, and their visitors and delivery drivers, to park near their homes.
- Streets are safer because CPZs designate where it’s safe to park and create better visibility for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists at junctions.
- Streets are more attractive. CPZs reduce the dominance of parked cars on a street and create space to introduce attractive or useful features like ‘parklets’ or bicycle hangars.
- CPZs also help local business. Parking controls can help prioritise on-street parking spaces for residents who might rely on a vehicle for their work such as people regularly carrying heavy equipment. This can be done through issuing business parking permits.
- There will be less impact from nearby new-build housing because CPZs enable ‘permit-free’ planning conditions to be placed upon future developments, so reducing the impact on existing communities, particularly drivers, of additional cars on local roads.
In areas where the majority of people do not own a car, where street space is limited or the environment is poor, providing car owners with private use of public space for no charge may be seen as unfair to residents who do not own a car.
Car parking remains uncontrolled in the streets around many train stations in Outer London. This encourages people to drive to the station and continue their journey by train. To reduce this type of car trip and encourage people to start their trip with a walk or a cycle, it is particularly important that at the very least councils control parking around stations.
Key information and research
- Parking controls can play an important role in encouraging the shift towards more sustainable modes of transport. (Reclaim the Kerb, Centre for London, 2020).
- Cars are parked 95% of the time. (The High Cost of Free Parking, Donald Shoup)
- On average two thirds of households in Inner London boroughs don’t have a car. In Outer London one third of households don’t have a car. (Table KS404EW, Census 2011)
- It’s around 50 times cheaper to rent a parking space than to rent a home. For example, in Westminster, the space needed for a single parking space would cost £8,000 a year to rent as housing. It costs just £145 to park there for a year. (Why we should be paying more for parking – video explainer, The Guardian)
- There is a clear link between providing parking and resulting car use. (London Plan Evidence Base: Residential Car Parking, 2017)
8. Physically Protected Cycle Track
This indicator measures the proportion of roads with physically protected cycle track in each borough. High levels and a wide range of people cycling are almost universally solely found where there is a network of physically separate or protected cycle tracks, largely on main roads. London’s new cycle routes have all been very successful in terms of the numbers of people cycling along them.
Cycle tracks are physically protected space for cycling, separated from motor vehicle traffic and pedestrians by kerbing, level differences, intermittent barriers (such as small planters or rubber “armadillos” – these are called “semi-segregated”) where the cycle track runs parallel and adjacent to a street or is a clearly delineated and segregated path through a park.
The cycle tracks installed in London have all seen high levels of growth in cycling along them, from a mix of those new to cycling and those who have detoured from existing routes specifically to use the facilities. Where they are high quality and continuous, TfL says “compliance” (i.e. use of them, adherence to light controls) is over 90%.
There is clear evidence that more people cycle where there is a network of safe, protected routes in a city; and that women and children are disproportionately affected by the lack of such infrastructure.
Key information and research
- Physically protected cycle tracks reduce road danger for those cycling and increase cycling rates.
- There are clear health benefits to cycling. (Cycling and walking for individual, population and health system benefits: a rapid evidence review, Public Health England and All-Cause Mortality Associated With Physical Activity During Leisure Time, Work, Sports, and Cycling to Work, JAMA)
- Physically protected cycle tracks reduce collisions at junctions.
- Cycle paths, lanes and networks increase cycle rates.
- Physically protected cycle tracks enable more people and more women specifically to cycle.
- The overall health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks.
9. School Provision
This indicator measures two of the actions that schools and local authorities can implement to make journeys to school healthy and convenient.
A quarter of weekday morning peak car trips are for school drop-off (Walking action plan, TfL), while 80% of children in London do not achieve their minimum recommended physical activity level each day. (Healthy Streets for London, TfL)
So how can local authorities, Transport for London (TfL), school staff, governors and parents enable more walking and cycling to school?
There are wide variety of measures that can be taken, but this indicator focuses on two that are easily measurable and comparable across different boroughs: progress against the TfL STARS measures and the number of School Streets as a proportion of schools.
STARS stands for Sustainable Travel: Active, Responsible, Safe. It is a TfL accreditation scheme for schools, nurseries and colleges designed to inspire young Londoners to travel sustainably. As well as reducing car journeys to school, increasing levels of walking, cycling or scooting to school improving pupils’ emotional and physical health and even improving academic attainment. Just 20 minutes of walking can improve the academic performance of 9-year olds, particularly their reading achievements. (Physical Activity May Strengthen Children’s Ability To Pay Attention, ScienceDaily, 2009)
Schools reach different levels of accreditation in the scheme, from ‘engaged’ through to bronze, silver and gold. Schools demonstrate the activities they have undertaken to enable active travel, such as cycle lessons or walking buses. Once these activities are complete and start to impact on how students are travelling to school, the school can then “demonstrate a shift away from car use” and achieve a Silver accreditation, or Gold if 90% of pupils travel actively or there is a modal shift of 6% away from the car.
Of course there is only so much an individual school can do to enable walking and cycling – factors outside the school’s immediate control (such as local infrastructure) may prohibit the impact schools can have. And a programme reliant on the recording of individual activities may not always capture the quality of the interventions. But the results of actions by schools can be dramatic. Public transport use in one school increased by 13% in one year, while active travel in another school increased by 14% at the expense of car journeys. And the discussion and energy that activities generate in and around schools can lead to more engaged parents and staff that then campaign for wider improvements to streets in the area.
So progress against STARS is one measure, to be considered alongside the other indicators, of the actions that schools and boroughs are taking to promote walking and cycling to school. The metric works by awarding 1 point to each school in the borough that is engaged in the programme, two points where a school has reached Bronze, and 3 and 4 points to schools reaching Silver and Gold respectively. The number of points the borough achieves against its maximum (if all schools in the borough were Gold) is then used to form the STARS half of the Schools Indicator.
School Streets are streets leading to school gates which are closed to general traffic, at a minimum, on school days before opening and following school closing times. General traffic is prevented from entering the street with signs and bollards or enforcement cameras. School streets make it safer for children, school staff and parents to travel to school. They dramatically reduce traffic outside schools and improve air quality both on the street and in the school itself. They also develop young people’s independence by allowing more children to walk or cycle at least part of their journey to school without their parents, helping to address the trend towards the increasing dependence of young people on their parents to travel .
The metric works by dividing the total number of School Streets in a borough by the number of schools. This proportional figure is then used to form half of the Schools indicator.