What are Healthy Streets?

    Helping more people to walk, cycle and use public transport is at the heart of the Mayor’s vision to transform London’s streets and create a healthier, fairer and more sustainable city for everyone. The Mayor’s Transport Strategy sets out how investing in our streets using the ‘Healthy Streets’ approach can improve air quality, reduce congestion and help make London's diverse communities greener, healthier and more attractive places to live, work, play and do business.  

    London’s streets account for over 80 per cent of its public space. Turning these streets into places where people want to walk, cycle and take public transport will help communities connect, while allowing Londoners to start enjoying their cit again as we recover from the pandemic. Creating streets for walking, cycling and public transport will also tackle pollution and congestion, and make it easier for people to build healthy activity into their daily lives.

    Why do you want to encourage people to walk and cycle?

    The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted a range of acute and urgent challenges across our city, including deep health and economic inequalities. Other pre-pandemic challenges, including a climate emergency, polluted air and unacceptable road danger, are also as pressing and significant as ever. Addressing these challenges will be essential if London is to recover from the pandemic and consolidate its position as a leading world capital, so we are continuing to work towards the Mayor’s targets of zero road deaths and 80 per cent of journeys by sustainable modes by 2041. 

    There are several other reasons for us to want more people to walk and cycle, and invest in the infrastructure to support these ways of getting around: 

    • Congestion – congestion costs businesses millions of pounds every year, as well as holding up emergency services. Our roads could be managed more efficiently if people switched car trips to walking and cycling where possible, and more infrastructure built to encourage people to travel this way 
    • Health and wellbeing – we know that being more active can help tackle many health issues, ranging from reducing obesity or managing mental health 
    • Environment – vehicle journeys are one of the main contributors to poor air. While electric vehicles will have an impact, the move to these vehicles is likely to take several years and they still emit particles from tyre wear, which can impact our lungs
    • Reducing road danger – people walking and cycling accounted for 53 per cent of people killed on London’s streets in 2020, and 57 per cent of people seriously injured. Improving the infrastructure for  people walking and cycling will save lives we tragically lose each year
    • Economic benefits – businesses can benefit from people being able to walk and cycle more, as those who travel this way tend to spend more time and money in their local high streets
    • Road maintenance – highway authorities spend millions each year maintaining our roads, such as fixing pot holes. Walking and cycling have less impact on road surface quality, so we can save money on maintaining our roads, and there’ll be less delay and inconvenience to people driving
    • Inclusion – 56 per cent of households in London own a vehicle; in some inner London boroughs that’s below 50 per cent. Walking and cycling are the cheapest ways of getting around, so investing in them gives people on low incomes more opportunities for travel. We also know many older and disabled people want to cycle more, but are put off by the lack of enough safe infrastructure 

    What are your plans to help people to walk and cycle in London?

    We are working with London’s boroughs to provide more cycling infrastructure and improved places for people walking. Before the pandemic we were working on several schemes to provide improved facilities, many of which were paused. Instead we introduced temporary schemes under the Streetspace for London programme, focused on supporting social distancing. 

    We are now working on converting those ex-Streetspace schemes to either be permanent, or retain them for a longer period as an experimental trial. This is where there’s a strong case to do so.  

    How are new schemes being introduced?

    We are using Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (ETROs) to introduce new schemes, or for retaining those we put in during summer and autumn 2020. These orders allow us, for up to 18 months, to test the effects of a scheme in real terms. They help us decide if changes need to be made, and whether we’d want to retain it on a permanent basis.

    Why haven’t you consulted me before introducing this scheme?

    In May 2020, the Government requested that Highway Authorities across the country move quickly to introduce measures to help people socially distance, enabling them to walk and cycle more often, helping our neighbourhoods recover from the effects of the coronavirus. The Streetspace programme was an emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic; there just wasn’t the time or scope to conduct a full in-depth public consultation on each of the measures we introduced.

    As the transport challenges arising from the pandemic remain, we are now reviewing the future of these schemes. Since the beginning of 2021 we have used ETROs, which allow us to trial a scheme for up to 18 months. This means we’re not required to consult before implementing the scheme, as is our usual standard practice. We do however discuss the plans with boroughs and other stakeholders and provide a short period before construction where we’ll collect people’s initial views. 

    As part of the trial we will consult with people to understand their experiences of it, and what they’d like us to do once the experiment ends. 

    How are you deciding where these schemes should be introduced?

    In 2017 we published our Strategic Cycling Analysis. This document looks at where people are more likely to cycle, and where there is greatest potential for more trips to be made by cycling. The analysis then sets out ‘corridors’ where we may want to invest in providing new cycling infrastructure. 

    We have also made improvements to several existing schemes, where we can provide greater protection for people cycling with low-cost methods. 

    What was the Streetspace programme?

    We directly manage London's red routes. London’s boroughs manage the remainder of roads and make their own decisions about what changes might be necessary to them. On the red route network, as an emergency response to the coronavirus, from last spring we took action as quickly as possible to:  

    • Enable safe social distancing, including on public transport
    • Support increased walking and cycling
    • Avoid congestion levels across London rising if trips previously made by buses or trains were instead made by car.  An increase in car use would have led to an increase in congestion, meaning deliveries, emergency services and other essential journeys get stuck in gridlock, harming our environment and economy

    We delivered Streetspace cycling and social distancing schemes on London’s red routes and we worked with London’s local authorities to deliver the programme on borough streets. Through this work, London’s boroughs delivered local schemes to provide new cycling infrastructure, safe school streets and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.  

    Why was the Streetspace programme necessary?

    The measures we and the boroughs took were an emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic. They were intended to help London’s neighbourhoods cope with the effects of the virus by facilitating social distancing in the interests of public safety.   

    If there were not some provision to help people who can do so to cycle (while recognising some trips simply cannot be made on foot or by bike, there are a very significant number which can), the resulting increase in congestion would have disrupted the emergency services, freight and servicing, and it would delay the buses that older and disabled people rely on.  

    Two-thirds of trips made by car in London are under five kilometres, and so could potentially be cycled in less than 20 minutes. Trips less than two kilometres could be walked in less than 25 minutes. On top, just 56 per cent of households in London own a car, so there was a need to provide alternative ways for people to get around London safely.    

    Why are there Streetspace schemes still in place – isn’t the coronavirus emergency over?

    The temporary changes to increase walking and cycling on the TLRN were brought in to address the transport challenges arising from the pandemic. Although lockdown restrictions ended on 19 July, those challenges remain, and so it is not possible to say when the temporary changes will no longer be required. They are, however, kept under review to ensure their continued effectiveness, keeping in mind milestones in the pandemic and significant changes in circumstances.

    Does TfL not agree that some journeys simply cannot be made on foot or with a bicycle?

    Of course we do. We want to help everyone who can do so to walk and cycle more often. We know and understand that there will be some people who cannot do so, however our work to deliver new schemes to help people walk or cycle will offer benefits to them also. If we did not provide some people with the means to walk and cycle more often, there would be greater pressure on our road and public transport networks. This would actively disadvantage everyone who needs a vehicle to travel because there would be greater congestion across London. It would also disadvantage people who rely on public transport, because there would be greater demand for buses and trains.  

    We also know just 56 per cent of households in London own a car, so we must provide safe alternative options for these people. 

    Are these measures not just increasing congestion or rat-running?

    Whenever a change is made to an existing road layout, there will always be a period of time after it has first been introduced in which traffic will need to adjust to the new layouts. We are confident that, after people have adjusted to the new layouts, there will be a neutral effect on traffic flow. We however listen to local people, and monitor the effects of the changes once they have been introduced.

    Are these measures delaying the emergency services?

    We and London’s local authorities work jointly with all of London’s emergency services. We and London’s boroughs meet regularly with senior representatives from the emergency services. This gives the emergency services much greater awareness of the schemes we and London’s boroughs will be implementing to help people walk and cycle.

    As London continues to recover from the effects of the coronavirus, any increase in car use will lead to an increase in congestion on London’s roads which would have a detrimental impact on the vital work undertaken by the emergency services. 

    Will you make changes to these schemes once they have been implemented?

    Where changes are identified as being required, yes. Sometimes schemes will need to be adapted once they are in place. Feedback from local people and other stakeholders and our ongoing monitoring help us to understand where changes might be needed, and what changes are required.  

    Whenever a change is made to an existing road layout, there will always be a period of time after it has first been introduced in which traffic will need to adjust to the new layouts. We are confident that, after people have adjusted to the new layouts, there will be a neutral effect on traffic flow. We however listen to local people and monitor the effects of the changes once they have been introduced.

    Why is it necessary to ban certain turns to traffic?

    In each case, the temporary changes we introduce are intended to address a set of issues specific to that area.   

    In many cases, we temporarily restrict turns because a large proportion of collisions in London in which people walking or cycling are injured or killed involve traffic turning right or left at junctions.   

    By restricting certain movements temporarily, we can greatly reduce the potential for collisions and help people to feel safer.   

    How can I make my usual journey when you’ve changed how the roads operate?

    Some people have asked us how they can make certain journeys by vehicle while the temporary restrictions are in place. In every case, we have ensured there is still vehicular access to properties. This may sometimes mean a longer route than people would usually take or expect.  

    We are not able to provide specific advice about how a person should make a journey by car; the circumstances obviously will differ in every case.   

    Why do you remove parking or loading bays?

    We may remove parking and loading bays only where absolutely required to provide more room for people to safely social distance, or to help people to cycle more easily or safely. Wherever possible, we introduce new temporary parking bays on side roads. As much as we possibly can, we plan the schemes so some provision for loading or unloading is available as close as possible to local businesses. At the same time, it simply isn’t possible for us to provide parking or loading bays in close vicinity to every business in London.   

    Do these measures not just make it harder for businesses to trade?

    We know that people who walk, cycle or use public transport shop more often than those who drive, and they spend up to 40% more in high streets and town centres than those who drive there. For businesses who rely on making or taking deliveries, it is important that traffic is as free-flowing as possible. If we were not to help people to avoid private transport as much as possible, there would be an unmanageable increase in congestion across London. This would be highly disruptive, including to the emergency services and businesses who rely on deliveries, and would increase pollution, which contributes to thousands of premature deaths.

    Is TfL coordinating with the London boroughs?

    Yes. We work closely with London’s local authorities to develop and agree the temporary measures we are introducing. This enables us to fully coordinate our activities.

    Are you discussing these temporary changes with older and disabled people’s organisations?

    Yes. We are engaging with organisations representing people with specific accessibility requirements to understand their views on the changes delivered so far. Over the past year we hosted a series of working groups with representatives from Accessibility groups, including Transport for All, Disability Rights UK, Inclusion London, SCOPE and Royal National Institute of Blind People.  
    While boroughs are responsible for designing schemes on their roads, we have issued guidance to support them in this, including a section on equalities, accessibility, security and inclusion. 

    What will you do to ensure that these changes do not make it harder for those with accessibility issues to make essential journeys?

    We believe that schemes to help people who can do so to walk and cycle more often actually help older and disabled people to get around. By encouraging people who can do so to walk and cycle more often we can: 

    • Reduce pressure on our public transport networks. This would mean that buses and trains would be more easily available to people who cannot walk and cycle
    • Reduce the number of trips made in London by car. This delays not only buses, taxis and other public transport services such as Dial-a-Ride; but also the emergency services and freight and servicing trips
    • In some cases it is necessary to relocate some disabled parking bays to make it possible to provide facilities to encourage people to cycle. We located these bays to nearby side streets, where there would naturally be less traffic so that it is safer for older and disabled people 

    Can taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers pick up and set down disabled customers on cycle lanes?

    Yes, taxi and PHV drivers can pick up and set down all customers at the kerb edge, including people with mobility impairments, by entering any cycle lane marked by a painted line. There are however different types of cycle infrastructure, not just cycle lanes, that include additional infrastructure components that can affect accessing the kerb:

        Advisory and mandatory cycle lanes, marked by a painted line, can be entered into by taxis and PHVs for pick-up and drop-off at the kerb edge

        Light segregated cycle lanes (which may include the use of wands, cylinders or other light segregating objects) consist of mandatory cycle lanes, and so again taxis and PHVs are permitted to enter the cycle lane to access the kerb. The spacing of wands or cylinders is usually sufficient to allow for this movement 

        Fully segregated cycle tracks that are at pavement level would, in most situations, allow for a taxi to pull up to the kerb to deploy an access ramp across the cycle track. The passenger would need to move across the cycle track to get between the taxi and the pavement 

        Fully segregated cycle tracks that are at road level and have a kerbed island between the road and cycle track should not be entered by taxis or PHVs. In most situations a vehicle would be permitted to pull up to the kerb, with the passenger needing to cross the cycle track to get between the taxi and the pavement. Some pavement layouts provide a sufficiently wide kerbed island for wheelchair access and/or a step-free crossing of the cycle track. We are aware for some people with mobility impairments some sections of fully segregated cycle track at road-level will not be fully accessible for kerbside wheelchair access or stepping up and down between pavements. Alternative options on nearby side roads, or as part of the main road layout at dedicated locations, are included where this is not possible 

    This information in relation to cycling facilities should be read in conjunction with other taxi and PHV information around setting down and picking up customers, including ensuring that taxis or PHVs do not cause an obstruction or safety hazard to other road users. 

    What support are you giving older and disabled people to get used to these changes?

    We understand that changes to the road network can take some time to get used to, and can be difficult for people with particular impairments. We run a free Travel Mentoring Service to help older and disabled people use the network, and this can include getting used to changes on the road network. They can give advice over the phone or videocall, as well as making some journeys with people.