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Agenda item

Living Streets - Presentation

Minutes:

The committee received a presentation from David Harrison of Islington Living Streets, a copy of which was interleaved with the agenda.
The following points were highlighted:

·         70% of households in Islington do not own a car, however Islington’s roads are vehicle friendly with the result that children no more play in the neighbourhood streets.

·         Although walking in the borough accounts for 42% of all trips, it is noticeable the increase in short trip journeys by cars, leading to high carbon emissions and air pollution. Resident inactivity results in high levels of obesity, social isolation and, worryingly, one of the worst child pedestrian casualty rates in western Europe.

·         In order to address the above consequences, the meeting was advised of the need to reduce car use and alternatively provide more investment for sustainable modes of travel across the borough. The meeting was informed that Islington Living Streets welcomes Islington’s Transport Strategy.

·         Members were advised of the 3 elements to any behaviour change programmes – (1) price mechanism, (2) bans and (3) making major infrastructure changes.

·         Although public health messages are useful, their effectiveness in terms of behaviour changes is limited as such messages are dwarfed by the amount spent on advertising, especially by the motoring industry.

·         Evidence shows that employing price mechanism to address behaviour changes is welcome and effective. With the congestion zone and the Ultra-Low Emission Zone there have been 13,500 fewer cars per day. Introducing car parking charges and the workplace levy will have an impact on car use.

·         The Meeting was advised that any proposal to ban vehicles in certain areas or roads is beneficial to the environment in terms of air quality/vehicle emissions and will result in an increase in walking and cycling and, importantly, reinvigorate town centres and shopping areas.

·         Significant infrastructure changes have brought huge benefits to residents and the environment. The introduction of cycle superhighways and the pedestrianisation of town centres/shopping areas continually attract more walking by residents and visitors, especially as evidence shows that 22 % of all car trips made by London residents are under 2km.

·         Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) will result in residents being active and increase life expectancy. David Harrison welcomed the council’s effort as over 51,000 households in the borough are no longer living in areas with dangerously high levels of air pollution.

·         Members were advised that despite resistance, improving a street for walking and cycling has resulted in an increase in footfall and has had no impact on businesses with the number of empty shops falling to 17%. Also evidence shows that cyclists and residents who walk to shops tend to spend 40% more than those who drive into these high streets.

·         The meeting was informed that although traffic levels have fallen by 56% or 10,000 fewer vehicles a day, there has been a slight increase in traffic on the two main roads bordering the LTN areas.

·         In response to a question about lack of funds, David Harrison acknowledged the challenge, however noting that investing in low cost measures would transform neighbourhoods to low traffic areas. Measures such as introducing traffic-free streets with bollards or planters; ensuring connectivity across routess for pedestrians and cyclists and changing roads to become more like boulevards will go a long way. In addition, making pavements wider, introducing more crossings, closing side streets to motor vehicles, increasing the cost of parking while restricting the availability of parking, developing sustainable delivery/consolidation hubs to reduce number of delivery vans will go a long way changing the outlook of neighbourhoods and town centres.

·         Members were reminded that most of the discussions around behaviour change and improving neighbourhoods and streets was not about its effectiveness but political fear which evidence shows has not being realised.

·         LTNs are noticeable around major cities, notably the super block in Barcelona and the Knip in Amsterdam. Lambeth, Camden, Southwark, The City of London and Tower Hamlets have proposals in place to introduce such neighbourhoods especially with the increase in awareness of benefits to resident in terms of air pollution reduction and road safety.

·         In addition to economic benefits from LTNs, evidence shows improvement in the health of children living in the area in comparison to those who live out of the area. A member suggested that Islington’s Public Realm working in partnership with NHS would bring additional benefits.

·         With regard to huge investment received by Waltham Forest, with funds from the Mayor of London and the transformation of that part of Waltham Forest, David acknowledged the lack of funds in Islington but advised that low cost measures such as placing bollards and planters, and removing roundabouts would transform neighbourhoods.

·         With regard to public resistance to LTNs, the meeting was informed that it is important to communicate with residents so that they understand the benefits and how LTNs impact their quality of life and public health. 


The Chair thanked David Harrison of Living Streets for his presentation and in particular for the clarity of his contribution.