“One Year On, One Year To Go” Climate Safe Streets report shows gulf between boroughs on active travel and car use reduction scheme delivery.
This report names the boroughs doing best and worst on decarbonising their roads, with borough leaders one year into their current term and with the Mayor having one year to go in his. It tracks London’s progress by assessing action the boroughs and Mayor have taken in line with our Climate Safe Streets campaigning and makes use of key data on transport mode shift away from private motor vehicles over the last decade.
“This report is a vital part of keeping up the pressure on all London’s leaders to do more to make London’s streets better for walking and cycling. If they don’t, more Londoners will die or get seriously harmed on the roads. Fewer of us will get the health benefits of walking and cycling. More will suffer from the blights of congestion and pollution. And we will have missed a hiding-in-plain-sight opportunity to tackle the climate emergency.”
Rob Whitehead, Director of Strategic Development, Centre for London.
The four boroughs taking most action to deliver ‘Climate Safe Streets’ and furthest along on delivery against their local boroughs’ asks are.
3. Waltham Forest
Hackney has long led on delivery on reducing motor vehicle use – between 2010 and 2019, the mode share of private motor vehicle use in the borough dropped by 37%, the highest fall among London boroughs. And that delivery accelerated at the start of the pandemic.
It’s also worth noting Waltham Forest’s levels of delivery on active travel are particularly high for outer London, in part due to its ‘mini-Holland’ funding, an approach now being rolled out at a national level. It saw the proportion of journeys done by motor vehicles drop by 19% in the decade pre-pandemic, with much of the shift coming after the point the first mini-Holland schemes went in.
Four boroughs are failing to deliver any real ‘Climate Safe Streets’ for residents in their boroughs. In descending order of mode shift away from private motor vehicles pre-pandemic, they are:
1. Tower Hamlets
Tower Hamlets is the only London borough where a higher proportion of journeys were being made using private motor vehicles before the pandemic than a decade ago (mode share rose by over 4%). The inner London borough has very low levels of car ownership, but did nothing to constrain car use pre-pandemic. And since the local elections, Tower Hamlets has elected a Mayor on a manifesto of ‘reopening roads’ by removing active travel and car restriction schemes.
Twelve further boroughs are significantly behind on delivering schemes asked for by our ‘Climate Safe Streets’ campaign (beyond the already-named bottom four). Of these, the leaders of both Greenwich and Kingston Upon Thames councils both made full commitments to London Cycling Campaign ‘asks’ prior to the local council elections but are thus far failing to deliver on those commitments. (Barking & Dagenham, Barnet, Brent, Croydon, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Kensington & Chelsea, Redbridge and Sutton are all significantly failing to deliver on Climate Safe Streets schemes).
This report provides specific recommendations to the leadership for each London borough to help them get on track delivering on roads transport emissions, against their climate emergency declarations – in London, only Bexley and Bromley appear to have not declared an ‘emergency’.
As well as assessing the boroughs’ progress to delivering ‘Climate Safe Streets’, this report also assesses the Mayor’s progress.
The good news is the Mayor of London’s commitment to a ‘Vision Zero’ of eliminating serious and fatal collisions from London’s roads by 2041 is broadly on track (taking the trajectory from before the pandemic) – likely due to the roll-out of 20mph zones, active travel schemes and the Met Police’s increasing speed enforcement (the Met is due to enforce 1 million speeding offences annually by 2024). However, improvements to dangerous junctions remain slow to roll out, and the Mayor’s self-set target of making London ‘Net Zero’ on climate emissions by 2030, requiring a 27% cut in road km driven according to his team, is not on target. Vehicle km driven were rising pre-pandemic, private motor vehicle mode share was not coming down fast enough and patchy delivery by boroughs remains a serious issue.
This report recommends that the Mayor must accelerate his programme, particularly ensuring ULEZ expansion set for August is not delayed or weakened, get bolder on the schemes and roads he has direct powers over, and solve the current siloed working inside TfL in favour of schemes that deliver for buses and active travel.
“London must not be a postcode lottery for climate action or safe cycling and walking. We need a lot more boroughs delivering ‘Climate Safe Streets’ like Hackney and Waltham Forest and fewer, like Tower Hamlets and Bromley, failing to deliver as our new report shows. Every London council and the Mayor must deliver more streets fit for cycling, walking and children playing, and faster, if we’re to help London escape the grip of car dependency and the cost of living crisis. Our new ‘One Year On, One Year To Go’ report highlights what needs to be done, for future generations, and to make London now a better city today.”
Simon Munk, Head of Campaigns, London Cycling Campaign
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