Liveable cities and towns for everyone

Cities and towns should be places that prioritise the people who live and spend time there.

At Sustrans, we create places that connect us to each other and what we need, where everyone can thrive without having to use a car.

For a long time now, places have been designed around cars, leaving less space for walking, cycling and spending time in.

Car-dominated spaces create congestion and damage our environment and health. They harm people who are already disadvantaged the most.

Our cities and towns can – and should – be designed with everyone’s health and wellbeing in mind.

They should have the space to do the things that make our lives better and add to our happiness.

That's why we create sociable places where friends and facilities are a short walk away, and it’s easy and pleasant to travel beyond our neighbourhood.

These are communities in which friendships are made and people belong.

Places with clean air and green spaces where everyone has the choice to walk, cycle, scoot or wheel safely to school, work and around their local area.

20-minute neighbourhoods

We think that the best way to do this is to ensure that it is easy for people to meet most of their everyday needs by a short, convenient and pleasant 20-minute return walk.

What is a 20-minute neighbourhood?

Working together to create liveable cities and towns

We don’t work alone. We bring together the people who live and spend time in the area, including those with seldom-heard voices, to make the change they want to see.

We work with schools to transform the school run and educate the next generation of commuters.

We work with local authorities to create, test and improve the infrastructure that makes it easier for everyone to walk, cycle and connect.

Streets for everyone

Creating streets that make walking, wheeling and cycling safer for everyone also has wide-ranging benefits for the local economy.

The temporary changes implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the benefits and viability of this approach.

We spoke with local businesses and residents across the UK to find out how it affected them.

Examples of our liveable cities and towns work

Two schoolboys in black coats on scooters ©2018, Neil Hanna

Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel

Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel is the UK’s largest inter-school cycling, walking and scooting challenge. It inspires hundreds of thousands of pupils, staff and parents to choose human power for their journey to school.

Find out more about our work in schools

Children on bikes outside of a Sustrans stand in London

Community-led design in Marks Gate

We combined community-led street design, behaviour change and infrastructure improvements in Marks Gate, East London, to increase opportunities for walking and cycling.

The result was a lively and more people-centred environment.

Our approach to community-led design

Bridge in town with pavement, road, pub building and dog walker

Street redesign in Dunblane Stirling

We worked with the local community and businesses to reimagine the approach to the towns' railway station, to create a space that feels more welcoming, is people friendly and inclusive.

Find out more about our urban design and planning services

People looking at and point to a big map on a table

Age-Friendly Tyburn: Tackling social isolation through the urban environment

The project identified the aspects of the urban environment of Tyburn that contributed to or exacerbated the social isolation of older people.

Find out more about our research, monitoring and evaluation unit

For general enquiries about working with us please contact our partnership team.

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Partnerships team

Partnerships team