Transport for London (TfL) has just published the Healthy Streets Check for Designers. This technical tool is a spreadsheet of 31 metrics that can be precisely measured for any street. The output is a Healthy Streets score that indicates how that street’s engineering layout and management of traffic performs against the 10 Healthy Streets Indicators. It can be used to assess an existing street or a plan for a new layout.
This new tool should be a great help to designers, prompting them to consider the fundamental issues that they can shape to influence the human experience of being on that street. It should also enable decision makers to compare the relative performace of different streets.
I have worked for months with colleagues in TfL to develop a robust, valid, useable tool but a simple, precise and objective quantitative Healthy Streets scoring system is not easy to deliver. The Guide to the Healthy Streets Indicators shows that there are so many different factors influencing the human experience of being on a street, they change throughout the day and throughout the year and fall under the control of many different individuals and agencies.
This Healthy Streets Check for Designers is quite deliberately limited in scope to those factors that fall under the influence of the traffic engineer or designer and those elements of design with a clear link to human health and wellbeing. The management of motorised vehicles is of course central to this but the designer can do a lot to make streets inclusive and pleasant places for the whole community to walk, cycle, access public transport and spend time.
There is scope to develop Healthy Streets Checks for other professional groups with influence over streets including planners and developers. So watch this space for new Healthy Streets tools.