London set to become the world’s most walkable city

London’s first ever walking and cycling commissioner, Will Norman, has unveiled the capital’s first Walking Action Plan.

Published: Thursday, 2nd August 2018

Walking in the city of London

The Walking Action Plan sets out how London will become a city where walking, for those that can, is the most obvious, enjoyable and attractive means of travel for all short trips.

The plan, which is supported by Public Health England (PHE), has an ambitious vision to make London the most walkable city in the world, with a million extra walking trips taking place each day by 2024*.

The Mayor of London wants to increase the proportion of people walking, cycling and taking public transport to 80 per cent of journeys by 2041, from 63 per cent now. And the Mayor is investing a record £2.2bn in streets across London to make them better for walking and cycling, and improve air quality.

Walking is an easy and affordable way for Londoners to integrate more physical activity into their daily lives. However, research shows that too many people are put off because of concerns about road danger or worries about their levels of physical fitness.

The Walking Action Plan aims to help Londoners overcome these barriers by:

  • Designing, building and managing streets for people walking, by delivering better public spaces, more walking routes and more numerous and wider pedestrian crossings
  • Ensuring that walking is prioritised in every new infrastructure scheme, through London’s first ever pedestrian design guidance and a range of other tools and analysis to support boroughs to deliver local schemes.
  • Rolling out innovative new traffic signal technology that makes it safer and easier for pedestrians to cross roads, while minimising congestion
  • Enabling thousands more children to walk to school by doubling the number of Gold accredited STARS schools which champion healthy routes to school, and by supporting timed road closures, car free days and 20mph speed limits around schools
  • Creating new ‘Active Travel Hubs’ at London Underground stations, making it easier to walk as part of an onward journey
  • Major projects are already underway to enable more walking across London, such as Highbury Corner, where a new public space and new pedestrian crossings are being installed, and at Old Street where work will begin to transform the roundabout in 2019.
  • The experience of pedestrians will also be improved around Swiss Cottage with new crossings and the removal of the dangerous gyratory. And in Kingston, TfL funding is helping to deliver improved pedestrian and cycling routes between the town centre and the riverside.
  • Close partnership working is crucial in delivering a better walking experience across the capital, which is why TfL is supporting London’s boroughs to deliver attractive, healthy and safe streets, including the £115 million Liveable Neighbourhoods programme, with the first seven projects starting in 2018.

London’s first ever Walking Action Plan comes alongside the Mayor introducing bold and widespread measures to clean up London’s air. This includes the Mayor launching the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which puts in place minimum emission standards for vehicles, spending more than £300 million transforming London’s bus fleet, and making sure TfL no longer licences new diesel taxis from this year. The Mayor has already introduced an emissions surcharge – or ‘T-charge’, meaning vehicles must meet minimum exhaust emission standards, or drivers have to pay a daily £10 charge in addition to the Congestion Charge.

Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “Walking is a fantastic way to get around and explore London, and getting more Londoners to walk regularly is essential for the health and future prosperity of our city. Whether you’re popping to the shops or heading for the local train station, we’re investing record amounts to make walking the safest, easiest and most enjoyable way of getting around. By making it easier for Londoners to leave their cars at home and walk instead, it will tackle the air pollution crisis and reduce congestion as London’s population continues to grow. It will have a truly transformational impact on our city.”

Lilli Matson, Director of Transport Strategy at TfL, said: "Walking is good for us and a great way to discover all that London has to offer. London’s first Walking Action Plan along with our commitment to deliver Healthy Streets will encourage even more Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to make walking their first choice for short trips. This will help improve Londoners’ health, as well as air quality and traffic congestion, local businesses and the economy.”

Councillor Hanif Khan, Hounslow Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Corporate Property said: “We welcome the Mayor of London’s Walking Action Plan as we have for long been putting measures in place to facilitate getting around the borough on foot. Legible London signs are being installed across Hounslow, Isleworth, Brentford and Chiswick. Once complete, there will be approximately 67 across the borough in total.

Planning approval has been given for the installation of a footbridge underneath Barnes Bridge, connecting to the Thames footpath, making walking along the route easier as part of our Duke’s Meadows Regeneration Project. Hounslow is currently undergoing a building boom to achieve our target of providing over 10,000 badly needed affordable homes over the next 10 years. All our new schemes prioritise sustainable transport such as walking and cycling within their plans.”

Public transport is crucial to helping people achieve the daily recommendation of at least 10 minutes of brisk walking a day and TfL will improve signposting and maps such as Legible London to make journeys more accessible for all.

TfL will publish London’s first design guidance for walking in 2019, which will help ensure walking is at the heart of the design process for London’s streets. TfL will also bring London’s boroughs and campaign groups together for a new Walking Forum this year.

Improving streets for walking not only improves air quality and the health of Londoners, it creates conditions for businesses to thrive. A recent study commissioned for TfL compared five London high streets that had recently been improved for walking with equivalent unimproved locations. The improved high streets saw 7.5 per cent higher rental values and 17 per cent lower vacancy rates than their counterparts. People walking spend 40 per cent more money in local shops over the course of a month compared to people who drive cars.

The Walking Action Plan will help to deliver the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, which aims to ensure that 80 per cent of journeys made in London in 2041 are by foot, cycle or public transport. TfL’s £2.2bn funding for Healthy Streets supports the Mayor’s Strategy and will help make London the world’s most walkable city by ensuring streets have clean air, feel safe, are easy to cross and have places to stop and rest.

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