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Let's start with a WOW from Barcelona - 1/3 of centre streets to be pedestrian with 21 parks at street junctions. They started planning this several years ago! Don't you wish you lived there? But then you would miss the grey, the rain, the fog, the dirty grit of London. Who needs sun when you can just pop vitamin D tablets? Not me!
Back in the UK, The Guardian reported that air pollution is now generally the same or worse than it was before the pandemic, and cites growing evidence that exposure to toxic air increases the risks from Covid-19.
Not only will People Friendly Streets help to prevent gridlock by encouraging people to walk or cycle rather than drive, but they will reduce the amount of air pollution and so make us all more able to survive Covid. We need People Friendly Streets urgently to help keep us safe.
Speaking of safety, everyone knows, or ought to, that speed kills: 10% of pedestrians would die when struck by a vehicle traveling at 20mph, compared to 50% for vehicles travelling at 30mph.
But research now shows that just being exposed to high traffic volumes increases danger. Many examples are given but here's one close to home: following the introduction of London's congestion charge in 2003, vehicle travel declined 14% and traffic casualty (injury or death) rates declined by 25%.
This is intuitively true, and it's why, when traffic levels reduce, we all use the streets more – we feel safer because we are safer. That's what People Friendly Streets are all about.
And when traffic levels reduce, it's a no-brainer that essential traffic doesn't suffer. The London Assembly on 2 December questioned the London Ambulance Service on the introduction of LTNs; and, in a nice extra validation following our FAQ on emergency service access, LAS responded:
We're happy that we were fully engaged and response times have not been affected
In our own community, Islington Life has published a great post on why making streets people-friendly will boost our health (also on twitter). Did you know:
Pollution is a serious public health issue, and it's estimated that the equivalent of 40,000 lives are lost each year in the UK because of the polluted air we breathe.
Tragically, this has been borne out in the recent inquest ruling for Ella Kissi-Debrah.
The Islington Life article goes on to focus on the disproportionate effect of dangerous roads on our children:
The safety impacts on children are particularly worrying. Sadly, the most common cause of death amongst children aged 5 – 14 in the UK is being hit by a vehicle
As well as being safer, People Friendly Streets bring benefits of active travel. Looking at an example outside our borough, Dulwich Village junction was closed to motor traffic in June 2020. On 3rd November manual cycle counts were conducted on this road and on a control road unaffected by any filters. The numbers were compared with counts done a year previous.
On the filtered road the number of people on bikes almost doubled - a 94% increase, versus 6% at the control. And many more of these people were children: 21% on the filtered road, versus 11% at the control.
This survey was carried out by Transport for Quality of Life.
Truly, build it and they will come.
Touching on one of our key messages (see FAQ: Good for Business!), we note that the City of London is set to lease 39 car parking spaces to Amazon for a last-mile logistics hub that will see the online retail giant make deliveries using e-cargo bikes within a two-kilometre radius of London Wall – in the process, removing 85 vans a day from the streets of the Square Mile and beyond. The Pedal Me revolution is well and truly taking off!
Islington businesses might want to note that the vast majority of business traffic comes from walking and cycling, with the bulk of the remainder from public transport.
As an aside, if you're a local business owner/manager, get in touch to get your profile on our website!
We attended the Barnsbury Ward partnership meeting on 15 December - our notes are here:
And last but not least, we wanted to share the Islington Transport Strategy (2020-2041) paper, which commits to LTNs in Highbury Fields, Highbury West and St Mary’s Church "by the end of 2020"; and "It is planned that Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes will eventually be rolled out to all parts of the Borough." Good news. Sooner rather than later please.
That's it till next time!