What to look for in a borough Transport Strategy/LIP


Councils will be working hard now to make sure that their “Local Implementation Plans” (or LIPs) are up to scratch. They are the main way boroughs get funding from Transport for London (TfL) outside of specific funding pots (such as “Safer Junctions”, “Liveable Neighbourhoods” or “Cycle Superhighways”). All London boroughs need to submit draft “LIP3” documents to TfL this month (November 2018). Most boroughs are now doing a public consultation and final submissions will be made in February 2019.

As our guide on LIPs says, LIPs must set out how a borough will deliver against Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) objectives, so a fair few boroughs are also consulting on a new Transport Strategy at the same time. The LIP is a short term delivery plan - it should include firm proposals rather than just allocations to general programmes of work, and it must demonstrably deliver on key MTS objectives. If it doesn’t, TfL can refuse it, and if the borough repeatedly refuses to play ball, withhold funding or take over the LIP themselves.

This blog has a handy round-up of most borough LIPs right now, and keep an eye out on any public consultation sites for them: https://lastnotlost.wordpress.com/2018/11/07/lip3drafts/  

Since there’s no standard format for these documents they can be fairly hard to get to grips with. Here’s what we think boroughs should (and shouldn’t) be saying in them:

Proper targets

We think good borough targets should directly be in line with the MTS and specific - with clarity to how data is going to be collected, how regularly and should cover outputs such as mode share of cycling and/or percentage of pupil journeys to school cycled, not just less important inputs (number of Bikeability training sessions delivered). Targets should be ranged across three years (timeframe of the LIP), a medium-term target (2025-2030) and long-term targets (the MTS runs until 2041). As an example, Camden’s long-term objective is “every resident and visitor will have somewhere to keep their cycle”. A commitment to deliver 1,000 cycle parking spaces might sound impressive but how many spaces are needed to achieve Camden’s long-term objective? 

Think about how the borough should look in 2041 - there are seven LIPs before then, so about 15% of any target should be delivered by this first LIP. In the same vein, the Mayor aims to get air quality to within legal limits by 2028 and to WHO levels by 2030 - that means major action in the next three LIPs.

Good stuff for cycling

We would hope to see the following in most LIPs:

  • commitment to protected space for cycling on main roads including explicit support for any TfL Superhighway or strategic future route schemes in the borough
  • a plan for a cycle network based on TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis and a commitment to enough routes to fulfil the MTS commitment that 70% of residents live within 400m of a strategic, high-quality route
  • lots of cycle parking - secure on-street parking near people’s homes, visitor parking near shops and secure parking at stations;

Good stuff for everyone

Reducing motor-traffic and road danger is vital for everyone, and fulfilling the MTS. That should be:

  • a commitment to reducing traffic volumes and re-allocating space from motor vehicles to other modes; “low traffic neighbourhoods”, “modal filter (cells)”, area-based traffic reduction etc. Or, as they’re sometimes known “road closures” as well as “School Streets” (timed road closures around schools at drop-off/pickup times)
  • increased coverage of Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs, residents parking) and a reduction in the space allocated to car parking
  • 20mph borough-wide
  • redesigns of junctions in favour of walking, cycling and safety.

Good stuff for walking

Measures to improve walking are usually also good for cycling. Look for:

  • “continuous pavement” or “blended crossing” treatments on side streets
  • improvements to pedestrian crossings, including ensuring all arms of signalised junctions getting pedestrian phases, reduced wait times/increased crossing times etc.

How to spot a poor plan

If a good plan has lots of targets and specific schemes for implementation, then a plan that’s doomed to fail, or that is just playing lip service (pun intended) to the MTS will likely contain much vaguer commitments. It may also feature:

  • pushing Quietways above main road tracks (these have proved slow, difficult to deliver and often poor quality - they’re a sign the borough doesn’t want to tackle main roads or tough schemes)
  • caveats, evasions or even opposition to the MTS key targets - caveated phrases like “will seek to develop plans for”, “subject to resident and stakeholder consultation”, “subject to scheme justification”, “look for opportunities to incorporate cyclist early release stages and advance stop lines”
  • pedestrian crossing improvements limited to “countdown timers”
  • loose commitments without a specific proposal in the LIP - where is the first “low traffic neighbourhood” going to be? Which roads and junctions are going to be improved?