Published: 4th NOVEMBER 2020

Creating healthy streets in London

We’ve been working with Transport for London to help make London’s streets more walking and cycle-friendly. Here’s a look at what the Healthy Streets Officers are doing in London boroughs.

A lady standing with a male bike mechanic as he checks over her bicycle. Both are wearing facemasks.

Taken at a cycle safety event organised by the Healthy Streets Officer Programme in partnership with Square Highways, City Police and Have Bike.

At Sustrans, we have a strong track record of working in partnership to achieve change in how we travel our everyday journeys.

Since 2019, we’ve been working with Transport for London on the ambitious Healthy Streets Officers programme to help make London’s streets more walking and cycle-friendly.
  

What is the Healthy Streets Officers programme?

We have 18 Healthy Streets Officers supporting 31 London local authorities.

They’re working hard to help boroughs reach the Mayor of London’s goals for 80% of journeys in London to be made by walking, cycling or public transport.

And for all Londoners to achieve 20 minutes of daily active travel by 2041.

The Healthy Streets Officers focus on sharing best practice between boroughs and supporting local initiatives to help people walk and cycle more.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the need to make London’s streets better for cycling, walking and wheeling so people can move around safely.

Here are the programme’s four main priority areas.

  

1. Schools

Working with schools is a major part of the programme.

Making the school run car-free can help reduce air pollution and congestion in London.

Walking, scooting or cycling to school gives young people the chance to weave exercise into their day.
  

School Streets

During drop-off and pickup times at the school gate, we close the street surrounding the school to motor traffic.

This makes it easier and safer for families and teachers to cycle, scoot or walk to school.

Our Healthy Streets Officers help boroughs organise school streets by:

  • communicating and engaging with the school community and wider neighbourhood in school streets to make sure that schemes work for them
  • training volunteers to safely and smoothly operate school streets so drivers know where they can and can’t drive while the school street is in operation  
  • sharing knowledge and learning between boroughs so that new school streets are the best they can be
  • monitoring the impact of school streets on things like travel behaviour and air quality to build an evidence base.

   
STARS

STARS is Transport for London’s accreditation scheme for London schools and nurseries.

By becoming STARS accredited, schools commit to reducing congestion on roads around the school, making the roads safer and improving the health and wellbeing of their school community.

Our Healthy Streets Officers work with schools to:

  • develop active travel plans
  • advise them on activities they can do to achieve accreditation
  • help schools collate and upload evidence to support their STARS application.

They are especially involved with engaging new schools in the programme.

Red sign next to a red postbox, showing that the street outside the school gate is closed to vehicle traffic, as children play and laugh in the street.

Closing the streets around schools to vehicles is a great way to encourage active travel. Here, we closed the road outside Van Gogh Primary School in Lambeth.

2. Streetspace

Healthy Streets Officers are also supporting local authorities with trialling infrastructure that has been funded through the Streetspace for London programme.

Examples of this include:

  • widening pavements to make it easier to walk whilst socially distancing
  • the introduction of traffic calming measures to create quieter streets in what is called Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.  

Healthy Streets Officers also work with boroughs to engage local communities and assess the feasibility of this temporary infrastructure becoming permanent.
  

Support with applications

Healthy Streets Officers have been working with boroughs to help identify and prioritise locations where temporary infrastructure is most needed.

They’ve also helped with writing compelling bids to secure funding from Transport for London and the Department for Transport to make changes to road space that make the environment nicer for walking and cycling. 
  

Communications and public engagement

Our officers are particularly focused on reaching out to people whose voices are less often heard.

This is vital to creating a fairer place for everyone. Healthy Streets Officers support with creating communications materials and talking to local communities to hear their opinions on street changes.
  

Monitoring impact of work

Healthy Streets Officers assess the impact of new temporary infrastructure by:

  • gathering feedback by using online tools like our Space to move map
  • monitoring air quality using diffusion tubes to measure the success of schemes in creating cleaner air in town centres and around schools
  • speaking to the community to make sure a wide range of voices are involved in the decision-making.

3. Workplaces

Our network of Healthy Streets Officers works with a wide variety of employers across London to help their employees cycle and walk more.

They work with staff in hospitals in Havering, construction firms in the City of London and many places in between.
  

Helping people plan their journey

Healthy Streets Officers are helping to make active travel plans for employers.

And these plans make sure that people know the best ways to get to and from work by cycle, on foot, by public transport or a combination of these.

They host activities and events to support staff to move more and provide incentives to inspire colleagues to be more active.
  

Equipment

We’ve helped employees to access cycles and cycling equipment.

Examples include:

  • creating pool bike schemes for carers in Bromley
  • giving NHS staff and key workers free safety equipment
  • providing advice for keyworkers on their nearest cycle shops during the height of lockdown.
      

Logistics

Healthy Streets Officers have also been helping businesses that make deliveries to switch from motor vehicles to cargo bikes.

This helps to improve London’s air quality.

We've worked with businesses including flower deliveries in Hounslow and hot food deliveries in Lewisham.

4. Cycle training
  

Engagement

Our Healthy Streets Officers help to promote cycle training across London as well as Transport for London’s new online cycle skills course.

This training helps participants to build their ability and confidence in cycling around the city.

During the pandemic, the focus has been on helping school children walk, cycle or scoot instead of relying on the car or public transport.
  

Reporting

We collate data from across local authorities for Transport for London.

This means that the number of cycle training sessions and the demographics of participants can be monitored London-wide.

  

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