Healthy Streets are cycling and walking streets



There’s a rising idea in London’s corridors of power – and it’s a good one. “Healthy Streets” is a term that’s been coined at TfL, and it’s an idea that both London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets endorse - with both organisations working together and pooling resources to make sure as many London streets are “Healthy Streets” as possible.

The transport system in London plays a vital role in people’s health by enabling them to be physically active through everyday walking and cycling. It has been estimated that if Londoners swapped motorised modes forwalking and cycling short journeys, this would deliver 60,000 years worth of health benefits from physical activity each year.

TfL has already signed up to “quantify and where possible monetise the health impacts of… projects and policies” by 2017. This means that when designing new schemes, TfL will assess the economic impact of health benefits as well as congestion and collisions. The result of this could revolutionise the type of schemes that come forward, because health impacts tend to far outweigh all other considerations when measured economically.

This should make active travel schemes that boost cycling and walking numbers, far easier to get through the TfL system – and conversely road-building, motor vehicle-trip inducing schemes harder. By taking the Healthy Streets approach the new administration is demonstrating that they will be going a step further, considering the whole street from building line to building line to ensure better outcomes for people.

The Healthy Streets approach sets out 10 high level outcomes that we should seek to deliver through policies at every level.  These “indicators of a healthy street” are centred around the experience of what it feels like to be on a street and include: things to see and do; places to stop; shade and shelter; clean air; pedestrians from all walks of life; easy to cross; people choosing to walk and cycle; quiet; safe-feeling; and people feel relaxed. Each of the 10 indicators has a scientific evidence base to support it as an essential ingredient for improving health, reducing health inequalities and increasing walking and cycling. 

Healthy Streets as an approach is gaining serious traction with not just TfL but the London Assembly and Mayor’s office. We understand the new Mayoral Deputy for Transport, Val Shawcross, is keen to drive forward the idea and we’re hopeful that the new Walking and Cycling Commissioner will get behind it too  Schemes that boost the health of a street by enabling more to walk and cycle are a win-win for cycling and walking campaigners and the Mayor.

Everyone walks, and there is much common ground between pedestrian advocacy (Living Streets) and cycling advocacy (London Cycling Campaign). We share similar concerns on many issues – from where space should be reallocated from, to whom should get priority at crossings, to how it’s vital to tackle car dominance.

Conflicts between people walking and those cycling are a cause for concern for both organisations – and it’s in all of our interests to design them out or mitigate them where possible. But it is motor vehicle speeds, volume and interaction with vulnerable road users that are the main concern for both organisations and that’s why we’re endorsing the Healthy Streets approach.

This joint blog is appearing simultaneously on Living Streets' site here.

More information on TfL's Healthy Streets approach here.