Flower power: Chelsea’s streets come alive in bloom

by Colin J Davis, of Streetscapes.online and author of Streetscapes: how to design and deliver great streets


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Our campaign is for healthier, happier and more livable streets. What could be more uplifting than the splendid displays of flowers in, on and around the shop fronts of Chelsea during the week of the flower show?

Picking up the theme of love, emphasised at the royal wedding at Windsor the previous weekend, the Chelsea in Bloom displays were very individual but with firm coordination.

How can this (obviously commercial) enthusiasm be replicated across London? One way is to help people to work together. An independent trader or a store manager perhaps needs to be introduced to a local gardening group.

People love flowers but might not be too knowledgeable about how to grow them. This could lead to local people being even more involved in improving to their own streets.

A new book — Streetscapes by Colin Davis — produced with the cooperation of Living Streets may also help. It brings together all the elements of successful streets including systems to reduce the impact of traffic, encourage walking and help make streets more enjoyable. It is available at Amazon for £15.

Walking news from Hackney’s Cycling Conference


One of the many noteworthy announcements from Hackney’s seventh cycling conference was that next year it will add ‘walking’ to its title.

This is welcome, not simply because this was one of Hackney Living Street’s demands in its campaign manifesto for the May elections, but also because it reflects an understanding that cycling is just one ingredient in a liveable city. If cities are for everyone — and not just motorists — they must encourage walking and living as well as cycling. Or as Andreas Røhl, Gehl Architects’ biking expert put it, ‘cycling isn’t the goal, it’s a means to an end’.

Listed below are some other key announcements and inspirations from last week’s event, many of which – we are happy to announce — originate from London Living Streets campaigns.

Bollards are the future

Or so said Simon Phillips, transport manager from Lambeth Council. Thankfully, filtered permeability — using features like bollards or planters to stop rat-running traffic on residential streets —  gained a lot of airtime at the conference. Phillips made the important point that we should be looking beyond TfL’s Healthy Streets to building ‘Healthy Neighbourhoods’, or wider cells with less traffic and more liveable environments.

London Living Streets chair, Jeremy Leach and London Cycling Campaign’s Simon Munk presented their invaluable new guidance on low-traffic liveable neighbourhoods. These briefing documents are packed with detail and advice from campaigners, councillors, engineers, planners and engagement specialists.

But speakers were realistic about challenges in building wider support for the concept. As Feryal Demirci, Hackney’s deputy mayor said, ‘this is not a perfect science. Whilst we at getting more sophisticated in tackling car dominance, so are the arguments against it.’

Glanville made an interesting point that while a few years ago the argument may have been framed as motorists versus cyclists, today it is more about ownership of space, or hyper-local arguments about what people want from the space where they live.

Councils must learn from this. Munk advised councils to give residents greater agency in shaping transformation of their areas. Gone are the days of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ consultations, he said. Residents must be brought in from the outset, for example via surveys about their street. If residents say they want to cut traffic or improve safety, then councils can show how schemes can address those principles.


Welcome news also came from Hackney’s mayor about plans for a residential ‘parklet’ programme. This follows the campaign by London Living Streets campaigner, Brenda Puech who installed a mini park  or ‘parklet’ on a car-parking space outside her home in Hackney.

Hackney Council opposed her efforts in 2017, forcing her to move the People’s Parking Bay to various locations to outflank evictions. But one year on and following massive community support for the parklet, Hackney Council have come round to the idea.

This is a ground-breaking result for Puech and London Living Streets. London boroughs have paid for a handful of parklets in the past, but this is the first time a council will enable communities to create their own. Puech hopes this is a first step in changing how people think about and use our kerbside public space.

Sub 20 speed limits

One member of the audience argued that 20 mph speed limits were still too high on residential streets. In response,  TfL’s streets chief, Jeanette Baartman agreed and suggested colleagues were looking into this.

School Streets

The conference was also opportunity for Hackney Council to promote its School Streets programme, where roads around schools are closed to traffic at drop-off and pick-up times to improve road safety, reduce air pollution and encourage children to walk and cycle.

Four schools now have a school street in operation with a further 12 planned over the next four years. As Glanville says, the schemes have captured popular imagination so they expect wider take-up in and beyond Hackney. To enable this, Hackney Council is about to launch a School Street Toolkit for professionals in other boroughs.

Central London Walking Network

London Living Streets vice chair, David Harrison, presented his vision of a Central London Walking Network that would link London’s key attractions and stations.

This ‘elegant and simple’ idea would prioritise London’s medieval streets for walking and cycling, leaving later, Victorian Streets to through motor traffic. With a relatively simple face-lift these ancient, interesting and intriguing streets would be brought back to life with wider pavements, places to rest and greenery to enjoy. More information is available here.


Delegates also heard about plans for London’s first ever ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) streets. The plans, set to go live in July across nine streets in Shoreditch and Hoxton, will introduce two time-restricted pedestrian and cycle zones, allowing access to ULEV and local residents and businesses.

In a recent consultation, 56% of respondents were in favour and 40% opposed the plans. The restrictions will be enforced via Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, from Monday to Friday between 7am- 10am and 4pm-7pm.

‘I was pleased to see a number of mainstream press coverage around the scheme, and it certainly contributed to the large number of consultation responses from taxi drivers,’ said Mayor Glanville.


Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, announced that London will not give up on its Quietway programme, quoting a figure that 11% of Quietway 1’s cyclists have switched trips from cars. He said they will be revisiting the design of routes and consider more traffic filtering to reduce motor traffic.

Bigger picture

Once again, Norman made all the right noises about ‘getting people out of their tin boxes’ and the importance of evidence when promoting active forms of travel. We hope these aspirations are matched by actions. London Living Streets remains concerned about the recent approval of the Silvertown Tunnel beneath the River Thames in East London. If London’s mayor and TfL believe in evidence, we’d hope they consider the evidence which proves more roads encourage more cars.

Main image of Hackney Mayor, Phil Glanville courtesy of Hackney Council

London’s Public Realm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALondon Living Streets and Urban Design Group are hosting a public event this month to celebrate the progress in improving London’s public realm.

The event will take place on Wednesday 23 May 2018, 6.15–8.15pm at The Gallery, 70 Cowcross Street, Farringdon, London EC1M 6EJ.

Presentations include:

  • What London’s newly elected borough councils should do to improve London’s public realm for walking and cycling Peter Murray, New London Architecture
  • The past and future transformation of the City Iain Simmons, City of London Corporation
  • London Borough of Ealing Tim Meluish
  • London Borough of Walthamstow Paul Gasson
  • Hackney’s public realm Adrian McWhinnie
  • How we can create enjoyable public realm and cities Christopher Martin, Urban Movement.

A discussion will follow.

Tickets cost £6.50 including drinks and nibbles from Eventbrite. A small number of tickets for students and concessions are available free of charge.


Walk, don’t walk: London Living Streets letter in the Times

The following letter appeared in The Times, 2nd May 2018

‘One of the best ways of addressing childhood obesity (letter, May 1) is encouraging children to walk to school. It is particularly unfortunate that the transport secretary plans to make this less likely by forcing utilities to dig up pavements not roads (News, Apr 30), creating a “hostile environment” for pedestrians. Should he speak to the Department for Health?’

David Harrison, London Living Streets

Have your party leaders pledged to deliver a liveable London?

So far 46 local party leaders have supported London Living Streets, Living Streets and London Cycling Campaign’s My Liveable London campaign, by pledging to submit a high-quality Liveable Neighbourhood bid.

These leaders are listed below. If your party leaders are not on the list, email them here. You have two days to ensure your next council leader makes safe walking and cycling a priority.

The benefits are countless. A walking and cycling city is also safer, less congested, less polluted, more attractive, healthier and happier.

More information is also available on from Living Streets and London Cycling Campaign.

In alphabetical order (by borough):

Jack Cohen – Liberal Democrat Party
Barry Rawlings – Labour Party
Barnet Green Party

John Warren – Conservative Party

Angela Wilkins – Labour Party
Liberal Democrat Party
Women’s Equality Party
Ann Garrett and John Street – Green Party

Siân Berry – Green Party
Steven Crosher – Liberal Democrat Party
Georgia Gould – Labour Party

Stuart King – Labour Party
Peter Underwood – Green Party

Julian Bell – Labour Party
Gary Malcolm – Liberal Democrat Party

Alex McRae & Kate McGeevor – Green Party
Doug Taylor – Labour Party

Philip Glanville – Mayoral Candidate – Labour Party
Alastair Binnie-Lubbock – Mayoral candiate – Green Party

Hammersmith and Fulham
Stephen Cowan – Labour Party
Hammersmith and Fulham Green Party

Labour Party
Gail Engert – Liberal Democrat Party
Green Party

Christopher Noyce – Liberal Democrat Party
Emma Wallace – Green Party

Mark Keir – Green Party

Steve Curran – Labour Party
Daniel Goldsmith – Green Party

Caroline Russell – Green Party
Ed McGuinness – Conservative Party
Kate Pothalingam – Liberal Democrat Party
Richard Watts – Labour Party

Kensington and Chelsea
Robert Atkinson – Labour Party
Kensington and Chelsea Green Party

Scott Ainslie – Green Party
Peter Truesdale – Liberal Democrat Party

John Coughlin – Mayoral Candidate – Green Party

Charles Barraball – Green Party
Mary-Jane Jeanes – Liberal Democrat Party

Gareth Benjamin Evans – Liberal Democrat Party
Newham Green Party

Ashley Gunstock – Green Party

Richmond upon Thames
Monica Saunders – Green Party

Anood Al-Samerai – Liberal Democrat Party
Eleanor Margolies – Green Party

Charlie Mansell – Labour Party
Maeve Tomlinson – Green Party
Ruth Dombey – Liberal Democrat Party

Tower Hamlets
Anwara Ali – Mayoral candidate – Conservative
Elaine Bagshaw – Mayoral candidate – Liberal Democrat Party
John Biggs – Mayoral candidate – Labour
Ciaran Jebb – Mayoral candidate – Green Party
Rabina Khan – Mayoral candidate – People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets

Waltham Forest
Andrew Johns – Green Party
Clyde Loakes – Labour Party

Simon Hogg – Labour Party
Di McCann – Green Party
Caroline Ogden – Liberal Democrats Party
Ravi Govindia – Conservative Party

Nickie Aiken – Conservative Party
Adam Hug – Labour Party
Sarah Ryan – Liberal Democrat Party
Westminster Green Party