The Healthy Streets Scorecard shows to what extent London Boroughs are putting in place six 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 ten indicators we give each borough a final Healthy Streets score.
This section explains why we have chosen these indicators. As appropriate, we will aim to add other robust indicators in future editions.
The Scorecard also shows to what extent councils are putting in place six key measures (or ‘input’ indicators) which can help to deliver Healthy Streets outcomes.
Why were these six 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.
1. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
This indicator measures the proportion of each borough which is made up of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), relative to the area of each borough which is potentially appropriate to be LTNs.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are areas which are access-only to motor vehicles, while through-routes are still available for people walking and cycling, as well as buses in some locations. They are usually created by introducing ‘filters’ – bollards, planters, gates or cameras – on to certain roads. Introducing filtered streets dramatically improves the walking and cycling environment, and makes roads safer and the air cleaner for everyone in the area. They are a key part of the solution to achieving healthy streets.
Objectives of LTNs include:
- Enabling more walking and cycling by improving conditions and meeting minimum safety standards.
- Reducing motor traffic by reducing short-cuts and road capacity for people driving.
- Reducing road danger by reducing the volume and speed of motor traffic.
- Creating quiet, less stressful streets.
- Creating streets which are more conducive to children playing and communities interacting.
One concern with LTNs is that motor traffic displaced on to the main roads surrounding any LTN, which may lead to increased congestion and air pollution. While this can happen in the short term, after a few months traffic has usually returned to similar levels. London needs to dramatically improve conditions on main roads, irrespective of LTNs – the best ways of doing this are outlined below.
LTNs reduce total motor traffic levels as people switch to more sustainable forms of transport.
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, while making driving a little more inconvenient, people do change their travel methods. And as time goes on, as active travel becomes embedded in lifestyles, more will follow leading to long-term change.
As well as supporting the principles of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, the Healthy Streets Scorecard also believe that streets should be made more accessible and welcoming to all. We ask local councils to conduct access audits to ensure that accessibility concerns are addressed – such as ensuring dropped curbs and raised crossings are in place to enable users of wheelchairs and mobility aids to cross roads. Clutter such as signage should be removed from pavements, and new electric charging infrastructure must be located on the road rather than on pavements. New benches and greenery, such as parklets, can create welcoming spaces and provide seating, which is especially beneficial to anyone with reduced mobility. We want to build on the schemes introduced to ensure the benefits are maximised and shared as widely as possible.
Sources of information for the metric
For the LTN area of each borough, data was taken from the Safe Cycle London map, which has been produced by the London Cycle Campaign (LCC) volunteer @SafeCycleLDN, and supervised by LCC. This map has been produced from material provided by London Boroughs, research produced by the University of Westminster Active Travel Academy, LCC borough groups, and members of the public. The information inputted on to the map has been reviewed by members of the Healthy Streets Scorecard coalition.
The Healthy Streets Scorecard coalition writes to London boroughs each year to request information on LTNs in their area, and these have been included where we received information. While every effort has been made to include all the LTNs, it is of course possible that we, or boroughs and other groups are not aware of all the LTNs, or that LTN boundaries are not exact.
Using the data from the Safe Cycle London map, the Healthy Streets Scorecard have produced a London Low Traffic Neighbourhoods by borough map showing on LTNs and borough boundaries. This is useful to see LTNs for each individual borough (see map below). It is based on data as of 31 March 2023.
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)
- People are living longer, are less exposed to air pollution and getting more exercise as a result of the traffic filtering in Waltham Forest. (King’s College London research 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)
- Active Travel Academy Report: LTNs for all? Mapping the extent of London’s new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Examines the location and geographical extension of LTNs introduced in London between March and September 2020, and disparities between boroughs. It also contains a demographic analysis comparing residents of residential streets and main roads/high streets in London.
- The Impact of Introducing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on Road Traffic Injuries. Journal of Transport and Health. Laverty, A., Aldred, R. and Goodman, A. 2021.
- A guide to the evidence around low traffic neighbourhoods, produced by Sustrans, lists the evidence published to date on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and their impacts.
What is a Liveable Neighbourhood? video, by Oxfordshire Liveable Streets
Stopping rat runs (low traffic neighbourhoods) video, by London Living Streets
2. 20mph Speed Limits
The Scorecard measures the proportion of a borough’s road network (excluding the Transport for London Road Network, 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.
It is important to note too that TfL implemented 20mph speed limits on all Red Route roads (TLRN) inside the Central Congestion Charging Zone in March 2020 and it has begun to introduce 20mph limits on a further 37 locations on the TLRN, which will continue over the next few years. In his recent manifesto the Mayor of London pledged to “accelerate the roll out of 20mph speed limits on the TfL road network”.
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.
3. Controlled Parking Zones
The Scorecard measures the proportion of a borough’s roads that are under some form of Controlled Parking (with data supplied by councils, mapped and then analysed to inform a coverage final score, weighted for size and amount of Controlled Parking Zones). 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.
Sources of information for the metric
The CPZ map has been produced by Will Petty (@microlambert) from material provided by London Boroughs, and where information was not available, 2021 AppyWay data. The information inputted on to the map has been reviewed by members of the Healthy Streets Scorecard coalition.
The Healthy Streets Scorecard coalition wrote to London boroughs in early 2023 to request information on CPZs, and these have been included where we received information.
The London Controlled Parking Zones by borough map shows CPZs, as well as areas not suitable for CPZs (and excluded from analysis), and borough boundaries. This is useful to show CPZs for each individual borough and where there is potential for more (see map below). It is based on data as of 31 March 2023.
In 2023 we significantly updated the way we measure Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) coverage. From the mapping we have split our CPZ scoring into two parts. Half of the score is based on the percent of the borough’s roads that could realistically be in a CPZ that are in one. The other half of the score is based on the average ‘opportunity to park’ each resident has. We’ve noticed some boroughs have really large zones – so large, some drivers will drive inside those zones to park near a station or the shops. Other boroughs, residents can park anywhere or in any zone in the borough. These approaches will now be marked down, with a score that is based on how much area the average resident can park in of all CPZs in the borough. The final score is an average of these two components.
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)
4. 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 traffic wands, small planters or rubber “armadillos” – these are called “semi-segregated”). As of 2021, we no longer count tracks which run without a parallel road nearby – such as through parks – because often these tracks can pass through isolated areas or are dark at night, and therefore are not an inclusive cycling environment.
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.
The Rise of Protected Bike Lanes video, by PeopleForBikes
5. 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.
Key information and research
- The TfL STARS programme.
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.*
* (See Final scores methodology for further information)
Key information and research
- Mums for Lungs introductory information on School Streets.
- School Streets evidence review carried out by Edinburgh Napier University.
- New studies show School Streets improve air quality, Greater London Authority press release.
- TfL’s Getting to Know School Streets, an in-depth analysis of five School Streets in London.
London Fields Primary School – School Streets video, by Hackney Cycling Campaign
School Streets in Hackney video, by Hackney Council
School Streets video, by Mums for Lungs
6. Bus Priority
This indicator measures the proportion of the bus routes in each borough that have been given priority over general traffic, through bus lanes or modal filters.
Prioritising bus movements over general traffic improves speed and reliability for passengers. Bus priority is necessary because there is too much motor traffic on the road network, and too little capacity. Giving buses priority over motor vehicles recognises the bus’s greater efficiency in the use of road space.
It is therefore important that as much of a bus route as possible should be on a bus lane or part of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood which allows buses, but not general traffic, through:
- Bus priority measures should be used along the length of all routes, wherever possible, and bus lanes, bus gates and cycle tracks should take priority over lanes for private motor traffic.
- Priority traffic lights should allow buses through first.
All bus lanes should be operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Parking and loading bays should be removed or relocated away from bus lanes.
- Modal filters and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods can deliver bus priority on residential streets, but also on high streets.
- Minor diversions to bus routes may be implemented where there is no other way to stop a bus encountering congestion, along a back road or another road with a bus lane.
Improvement to the bus routes by prioritisation improves bus services which results in:
- Healthy streets and a clean city where fewer people take the car.
- Less pollution particularly on main roads.
- Financial savings so TfL can improve services and halt cuts.
Comparing borough action on bus priority
Bus routes run along both borough-controlled roads and TfL-controlled roads (red routes), so boroughs can take action themselves. but also work with TfL, to deliver bus priority. In 2023, the Healthy Streets Scorecard publishes, for each borough:
- Data on the proportion of bus routes in each borough with bus priority measures, by length, weighted for bus services (for example, a section of a road with four bus routes would be weighted higher than a road with only one).
- A map showing bus routes, bus lanes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (see map below).
From 2023, the bus priority scores contribute to the overall Healthy Streets Scorecard scores
Our aim is to publish data showing how much action has been taken. A higher score may be allocated for action taken on sections of roads which have been identified by TfL as needing urgent action. Borough and TfL roads will be included in scores.
Mapping and data updates and corrections
The map and data are correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication, but we welcome contact from anyone, including boroughs and TfL, if corrections are needed. We are aware that bus services may change, and our aim is to reflect this in future years’ data and mapping. We will issue an annual call for amendments around March of each year.
Sources of information for the metric
Each individual bus route was mapped onto the London bus priority map (using Bus lane data from January 2021 (TfL)) and each route within a borough was assessed to calculate the length with priority (through bus lanes or modal filters (LTN data from London Low Traffic Neighbourhoods by borough map). Length of route with priority were added together to get the proportion of priority relative to total length of bus routes to give an overall borough score.
A section of bus route or modal filter which serves multiple routes will be calculated for each route it serves, thus will contribute more to the overall score than one which serves a single route.
The metric does not take into account the quality of the bus lane (i.e. hours of operation, presence of parking / loading, continuity), or the frequency of buses. This will be a focus over the coming year.
Key information and research
- Range of potential benefits from bus priority schemes (of 14 different cities) are far-reaching and can positively affect both customer and operator.
- London bus speeds are 10.1% below group average compared to international benchmarking (2019 data summary).
- Prioritising buses at traffic signals improves their punctuality.
- All cities in worldwide study undertaking an economic appraisal of their bus priority systems reported very good economic returns, with systems typically paying for themselves within 3-16 months, from the passenger and operator benefits gained.
- Summary document from the Urban Transport Group explaining how and why carefully planned bus priority measures are good for everyone.
Four ‘outcome’ indicators are used in the Scorecard to show how healthy a borough’s streets are currently.
8. 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.
9. Road Collision Casualties
Identifying the number of serious or fatal pedestrian and cyclist casualties (KSI) in relation to the number of walking and cycling trips gives a measure of the risk to those walking and cycling in a borough. For this indicator, we are dividing the moving 3-year average of the numbers of fatal and serious road casualties amongst those walking and cycling in a borough (the numerator) by the 3-year average of the number of those who are making walking and cycling journey stages per day (divided by 1,000) – the denominator. 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.
Changes in reporting
For the first time in the 2021 Scorecard we divided the indicator between the rate of casualties amongst those who are walking and the rate of casualties amongst those cycling. Each of these are given a weighting of 0.5 in the final Scorecard.
In terms of road casualties, in the 2019 Scorecard, we used the data on road casualties for pedestrians and cyclists for a 3 year period (2015 to 2017). The 2020 Scorecard used data from 2016 to 2018, and the 2021 Scorecard used data from 2017 to 2019. For the 2023 Scorecard new casualty data is available, however, the ‘trip stages per borough’ data from TfL’s London Travel Demand Survey is not, therefore we have used 2021 data. We’ve published 2023 casualty data (without trip stages), however, this is not comparable to previous years, or as a measure of borough performance, as it does not account for the frequency of these modes of active transport.
In recent years there has been a change in the way that serious injuries are reported. This occurred nationally across police forces, as well as in London; these changes which were brought in in 2016 and have led to a rise in the number of recorded serious injuries. So, despite road traffic fatalities in recent years being at or close to their lowest ever levels, the number of recorded fatal and serious road casualties has continued to climb from 2,092 in 2015 to 3,905 in 2019 (the most recent full year data available).
Under the new reporting system, injuries are automatically given a severity rating, eliminating inaccuracies that previously arose from officers making their own judgement. The new severity level data is expected to be more accurate and may be resulting in the increase in reported KSIs seen in the London data.
At the same time as the numbers of casualties recorded have been increasing (the numerator) the number of daily journey stages (the denominator) for both walking and cycling have been falling thus further magnifying the changes in the casualty rates.
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.
Some boroughs with high walking and cycling rates also have high pedestrian per 100,000 journey stages, and cyclist casualties per 1,000 journey stages. This report does not extend to explaining why this may be. But it seems that in many boroughs where work has been done to boost levels of walking and cycling, more now needs to be done to reduce danger and boroughs will need to consider where, how and why such high numbers of collisions are happening.
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.
10. 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. The indicator also has a third part – the proportion of cars by fuel type.
Where are we now?
The Mayor’s target is for there to be 250,000 fewer cars registered in London by 2041. This represented a 10% reduction in 2020, when there were around 2.6 million cars registered in London. In 2023, car registration is at 2.45 million cars, so a slow downward trend is occurring.
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.
Poor air quality in London has led to health inequities across the capital and it was estimated to have contributed to the deaths of more than 4,000 Londoners in 2019. Many parts of the capital still exceed 2010 legal limits and none of the boroughs are close to achieving healthier World Health Organisation guidelines. Road transport, and especially cars, are a major contributor to the problem. Analysis by the Clean Cities Campaign has shown that the share of harmful emissions from diesel and petrol cars has risen in every London borough. Whilst there needs to be a significant overall reduction in car use, there is also a pressing need for local authorities to recognise the role they play in discouraging polluting diesel and petrol cars, as well as supporting residents to use cleaner, battery electric cars.
Introduced in 2022 and updated for 2023, the Healthy Streets Scorecard included data to examine how boroughs are doing in the race to switch away from polluting cars. Car registration data obtained from the Department for Transport has been weighted in accordance to how different fuel types contribute to London’s poor air quality. A factor of 3 for diesel cars, 2 for petrol cars, and 0.5 for electric cars shown on a 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest) point scale.
This analysis does not consider the total volume of cars in each borough but instead examines the proportion of cars by fuel type. It therefore doesn’t matter whether one borough is more car dependent than another because every borough should be taking action to incentivise ‘cleaner’ cars.