Online Event: Monday 26th April – Walking @ Tea-Time with Mário Alves and John Crosk

Source: CC Wikimedia

Monday 26th April at 5pm

The hope is that, as we emerge from the pandemic, our high streets will return to the bustling places they were.  But beneath the bustle an intense competition is taking place for access and space: walking, shopping, eating and drinking, parking, loading, sitting etc.

We’re deliberately seeking two distinct perspectives on this issue in order to illuminate it:

  • Mário Alves is Secretary-General of the International Federation of Pedestrians and a long-time advocate of providing good facilities for walkers.  Mário will draw on work he’s doing as part of the Horizon-2020 MORE project as well as his broader experience.
  • John Crosk has been involved with Brewery Distribution for over 40 years.  These days he is Vice Chairman of The Brewery Logistics Group (responsible for over 75% of London beer deliveries) and manages the Central London Freight Quality Partnership, which brings together London boroughs and freight operators.

Between them, our speakers know a lot about the subject under discussion and we look forward to a stimulating discussion, perhaps even a bit of a debate?

Walking@Tea-Time is a joint initiative of
London Living Streets and the Active Travel Academy at University of Westminster

This is a free event – Click here to Register

Online Event – London Mayoral Environment Debate – New Date: Wednesday April 21st at 7.00 pm

Monday 12 April 7.00 pm – 9.00pm

Your chance to quiz the London mayoral candidates on environmental matters.
Our Friends at CPRE have organised an online debate for Mayoral candidates to forward their policies on nature, climate and our streets to London’s voters. If you want to cut air pollution, transform our streets, make walking easier, improve road crossings and end pedestrian deaths and injuries this is your chance to ask the next Mayor for them.  It is being organised as part of the More Natural Capital campaign we have been working on as part of a coalition of environmental groups.

To attend, please register through this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5qu5UD… Photo credit: David Venni

Online Event – Walking and cycling to and from railway stations – New date: Wednesday 16 June 2021 – 18:00 to 19:30

Getting to a railway station can be difficult. The railway line itself can act as a barrier, severing a community in half with limited connections including dingy tunnels, or poorly maintained and badly lit footbridges. The streets that link to the station are often heavily trafficked, polluted and unattractive. Station forecourts are generally designed around the needs of taxis rather than passengers.

This free event hosted by Urban Design Group and London Living Streets looks at best practice in providing inclusive access to railway stations, aiming to provide passengers travelling on foot, by bicycle or bus, safe, comfortable, attractive and direct routes, that will help to make railway use a first choice over the use of a car.

Click here to register

Improving Road Safety with Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Hokman Wong (specialist brain injury solicitor at Islington firm Bolt Burdon Kemp) looks at the evidence for making streets safer with Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

Following a period of decline, road fatalities and serious injuries have plateaued from 2010. The need to improve this situation has now been in part recognised by the Department of Transport. In 2020 there were two consultations (road policing review and review of the Highway Code) on aspects of this problem.

In August 2020 I wrote about how low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) may help drive improvements in road safety and reduce road danger in Islington. Seven months on there has been a study on the effect of LTNs on road traffic injuries; and findings from Islington Council’s LTN six month monitoring report have been published. So what do these studies these tell us about how LTNs can help reduce the numbers of people killed and injured on our roads?

Islington Council LTN six month monitoring report

An LTN is an area in which “through” motor vehicle traffic is discouraged or removed. As well as reducing overall traffic levels, research has shown that LTNs can help to improve air quality, reduce noise pollution and make streets safer for people to walk and cycle and children to play.

In July 2020, Islington’s first LTN was put in place in St Peter’s Ward on an experimental basis with both residents’ and users’ views being collected during the experimental period. After an 18 month experimental period a final decision will be made. Islington Council’s six month monitoring report has been published and the key findings are:

  1. Traffic in streets within the LTN fell overall by 57%.
  2. Speeding (above the 20mph limit) on streets within the LTN fell by 65%.
  3. Overall across boundary roads, total volumes of motorised traffic showed a negligible change (-2%). Traffic on one boundary road (New North Road) rose by 32%.Journey times increased by an average of 26 seconds.
  4. There has been no significant impact on London Fire Brigade response times.
  5. As of 1st March 2021 there have not been any reported delays in London Ambulance Service response times.
  6. Air quality within the LTN has improved.
  7. There has been no significant impact on anti-social behaviour and crime rates.

The findings show significant reductions in traffic levels and speeding within the LTN. Intuitively one could reasonably conclude this ought to improve road safety. The study below sheds light on whether this is the case.

The Impact of Introducing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on Road Traffic Injuries

This study was published in January 2021. It looked at LTNs introduced in 2015 and 2016 in the London Borough of Waltham Forest and police injury data (STATS19) from 2012 to 2019. The findings were:

  1. Inside the LTNs, injury numbers fell three fold.
  2. There were no identifiable changes in injury numbers on the LTN boundary roads.
  3. Analyses of fatalities and serious injuries showed similar patterns to 1) & 2) but small numbers meant changes were not statistically significant.
  4. Traffic counts inside the LTN areas show motor vehicle trips fell by 56% from February 2014 to July 2016.

This study concluded that both absolute injury numbers and injury risk decreased substantially inside an LTN. The introduction of LTNs should be seen as an intervention that improves road safety as well as improving health through increased physical activity. Simultaneous interventions on boundary roads (e.g. building cycle tracks) may further enhance safety improvements.

Conclusion

The evidence above shows LTNs work to improve road safety within their boundaries. In some situations, there may be increased traffic on individual boundary roads, but this does not equate to increased numbers of injuries. Simultaneous interventions on boundary roads may counter any increased risk.

In the face of a failure to reduce the numbers of fatal and serious casualties on the UK’s road over the last decade and as traffic volumes have risen sharply on neighbourhood streets thanks to the take up of Sat-Nav technology, LTNs can be a much needed and effective tool to make our roads safer.

What’s next? Questions about walking and the future of central London

Emma Griffin, co-founder Footways, vice-chair London Living Streets

Central London was running at full tilt when we started work on Footways. Our network of quiet and interesting streets was designed to lure people out of crammed tubes and crawling taxis and onto streets where they could travel healthily and enjoy the city.

By the time we published our Central London Footways map with Urban Good last September, everything had changed. Footfall and spend in the centre had plummeted. London lost almost a quarter of a million jobs between March and the end of 2020, the highest fall in the UK (GLA). Arts, culture and London’s night-time economy were at particular risk. 

But our network was even more relevant. People wanted the safety of distance that walking could provide. Months of lockdown strolls were already changing travel habits. According to a recent TfL report, 31% of Londoners said they are walking to places where they used to travel by a different mode. 

But now we’ve got a roadmap out of the latest lockdown, we think it’s time to look further ahead – at central London’s future and the role that walking and brilliant public realm could play in that. 

The next two years are critical — to bring people safely back to city centres on foot and bike; to revive the life on streets; to make most of new healthy travel habits; and to decarbonise our roads.

We’ve listed some research below to guide thinking, but tell us what you think in the comment box below.

  • How will your journeys into and around central London change?
  • How many days will you return to your central London office?
  • What do you miss in Zone 1 the most?
  • Which trips will you switch to walking? Would you walk all way from Inner London? Or the final leg from a mainline or hub station?
  • What needs to change in the centre to bring you back? 

One prediction is that people will visit London less, but spend more time in the centre when they do, to make the most of its culture, entertainment and public spaces.

But attracting people to a “playground city” requires “more emphasis on quality of place, including the public realm”, says Arup, LSE and Gerald Eve in a recent interim report for Greater London Authority, adding that London’s rivals, especially Paris, “have taken significant action in this space already”. 

We think this means much more space and amenities for people on foot, much less traffic and lower air pollution. It also requires boroughs and Transport for London to focus on the connections between destinations, as much as the destination themselves. After all, the best of London is experienced from the street.

The good news is we’re walking more 

  • 31% of Londoners say they are now walking to places where they used to travel by a different mode (TfL)
  • 57% say they now walk more for exercise and 42% walk for longer than they did before (TfL)

But we can walk more and further

  • Before the pandemic, the average distance of a walk stage across all of London was just 320 metres. The average distance of a walk-all-the-way trip was 840 metres. (TfL)
  • Almost two-thirds of visitors to central London are Londoners, whose residence is concentrated in inner London.
  • Some of these journeys could be walked all the way and many can be walked the final leg from mainline stations and transport hubs. 
  • Before Covid, approximately 3,125 people took the tube between Waterloo and Tottenham Court Road on an average weekday, a journey that could be walked in 25 happy minutes (especially on our Footways routes). 
  • Analysis by a major employer in central London found that 9% of its 5,000 staff lived close enough to walk (in 15 minutes). A further quarter, who came from outside London into hub stations, could walk the final leg of their journeys.

The future of central London 

  • Central London suffered more than cities such as Paris and New York largely because it has fewer residents. Just 45,000 residents live within 1.25km / 15-minute walk of Trafalgar Square, compared to 120,000 residents who live within 1.25km / 15-minute walk of Notre Dame de Paris. (Arup et al.)  
  • The majority of central London’s workers come from inner London and many are missing the face-to-face contact of offices, events and meetings.
  • Almost half of the 2,000 office workers (46%) polled by British Council for Offices (BCO) said they intended to split their work between home and the office. 30% were set for a full, five-day-a-week return to the office, compared to 15% who planned to only work from home. 
  • Creative people seem particularly keen to return to the office. Only 7% of marketeers planned to work from home full time, with 62% of this group stating they enjoy the creative exchanges that occur in the office (BCO). 
  • But less commuting needn’t be a disaster for central London if people “save their retail and leisure spend for the days that they are in town” (Arup et al.).
  • This is an opportunity for central London to reimagine itself, to “cater for a new generation of experiences, for a new and improved public realm, for lower congestion, inclusive growth, improved air quality, a strengthened cultural offer, and for attracting new types of residents, whilst preserving the existing diversity” (Arup et al). 
  • Footways prioritises connections between cultural destinations and mainline stations and hubs. Check out our walks to the British Museum, for example from Waterloo or Victoria, which merge the journey into the visit. 
  • Footways also connects world-class public realm improvements already complete or planned including the West End Project, Cheapside, Strand Aldwych and Clerkenwell Green. 

More local journeys 

  • A mix of home and office working will also help local town centres and create an opportunity “to create a truly polycentric city …  each with their own identity and specialisation” (Arup et al). 
  • There is also possibility of increased leisure and night-time spend outside the centre, especially in inner London. 
  • Again, walking is important, so people access and enjoy town centres on foot rather than car. More on this in a future blog. 

What do you think? 

Has London’s walking environment become even more important in the pandemic? How do you plan to travel in months to come? What needs to change in central London to bring people back?  

Image: Paul Buchanan

Walking@Tea-time – Reimagining (or transforming) our streets – Barcelona & London – with Silvia Casorrán and Brenda Puech

Monday 22nd February at 5 pm

Click here to register

Once London’s residential streets were places to walk, linger and play. Over the last century too many have become roads to drive through and park cars. This is changing.  While some low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) have existed for decades, they have sprung up more recently first in Walthamstow and, in the last year, in many, especially inner, London boroughs. Having removed the through traffic, the next question is what should be done to create a greater sense of place so that people of all ages once again linger, chat and play. Children have been driven off the streets; do changes need to be made to bring them back?  Walking@Tea-time will be exploring these issues, looking at how they have been addressed in Barcelona and the plans for a London-wide campaign, and what can be achieved.

David Harrison, London Living Streets, and transport historian, will briefly explore the history of London’s streets.

Our two main speakers who will assist us with our enquiries are: 

Sílvia Casorrán, who works with the Superblocks Office in Barcelona City Council. Since July 2019 she has been the mobility councillor for Sant Martí District in Barcelona.  Since 2003 she has been actively involved as an activist for the Association for the Promotion of Public Transport, for the Poblenou Neighbors Association, and for the Poblenou Superblock Association. 

Brenda Puech, Hackney Living Streets and parklets activist, will talk about a new grassroots London-wide parklets campaign that seeks to transform London’s streets, making applying for a community spot, or cafe spill-out space along our streets, as easy as obtaining a car parking permit.

Register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3716762031538017293

Online Event: Walking in London with Will Norman

Wed, 3 Feb 2021, 18:00 GMT

Click here to register

London’s walking and cycling commissioner will talk about TfL’s huge efforts to enable walking during the pandemic and the plans to create walking-friendly streets and public spaces across London and although London specific this will be of value to anyone who is interested in enabling walking through their work or in the town or city where they live.

Emma Griffin of London Living Streets will continue the theme, including the “Footways” initiative to create maps of pedestrian routes on quiet, low traffic routes – now extending beyond central London.

We will start off with a presentation and then move on to a Q&A/discussion with a mix of questions already submitted and questions on the evening. If you do have a question to pose in advance email us on jeremyleach@posteo.net and we will do our best to make sure that it is covered on the evening.

Programme

6pm – Welcome from Katja Stille , Chair UDG and introduction by David Harrison LLS.

Presentations

Will Norman, Walking and Cycling Commissioner for London on Walking in London

Emma Griffin, London Living Streets on the Ambition for walking in London and the power of walking networks (Footways)

Q&A with Will and Emma

Walking@tea-time: maps and apps

Online: Monday 16 November at 5pm  Register here 

Did you know that Apple have approached London Living Streets to talk about algorithms?  Our London Footways map has started a discussion and the next meeting of Walking@Tea-time will be exploring the potential of algorithms.  In particular, can they capture the human experience of walking?  

In a few years, we’ve gone from a world in which people found their way using the AtoZ to one in which we rely on our smart-phones.  But this is more than a change of medium: in addition to efficient route-finding, algorithms have the potential to provide us with highly customised options and to draw our attention to points of interest or opportunities of particular interest to us.  Can this induce us to walk more?  And is there something special about the paper map that we lose when we reach for our phones? 

Emma Griffin, co-founder of the Footways Project, will describe the human experience of creating the map

Two experts will assist us with our enquiries: 

Ana Basiri, Professor of Geospatial Data Science at University of Glasgow, whose ground-breaking work with large datasets has included the creation of maps from crowd-sourced data 

Hana Sutch, Co-Founder and Chief Walker & Talker at Go Jauntly, the innovative app that both provides and gathers information about great walks 

Register here 

The 15-minute city: a London case study

There has been a huge amount written about the 15-minute city with the emphasis on glamorous city centres in global cities. The reality though is that the 15-minute city is perhaps less likely to find its fullest expression in those city centres where relatively few people live than in local urban high streets and town centres.

When we add the impact of the pandemic, with more people working from home and making use of local shops and services, these local centres have even greater potential to become the heroes of sustainable living.

Continue reading “The 15-minute city: a London case study”