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Taking Healthy Streets to North America

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The last few weeks I have been sharing experiences with colleagues in North America.

I took part in the first joint podcast between the ITE in the USA and CIHT in the UK with Dale Bracewell, the transport manager for Vancouver, and Bernie Wagenblast, host of Transportation Radio.  We discussed the approaches we are taking in London and Vancouver to embed health in transport planning and the challenges we are overcoming.

I went to Boulder, Colorado to meet the team at Peopleforbikes who are leading The Big Jump project working with 10 US cities to reimagine their bike infrastructure and measure the impacts of improving streets for people.

I then headed to San Francisco and the Bay Area where I met with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the team behind GroundPlay who are responsible for changing the look and feel of San Francisco streets like the one pictured above.

And finally I stopped off in Montreal where I met the City Council teams who have been working together to deliver an inspiring programme of public realm improvement projects. My reason for being there was to speak at the UITP Global Summit of Public Transport providers as part of their first ever session on transport and health.  There was a strong sense that transportation authorities are beginning to embrace their wider role in making cities great places to be.

Health benefits of streets quantified

This week Transport for London published the long-awaited Better Streets Delivered 2.  This beautifully presented report illustrates schemes across London that have been implemented over recent years, or are currently under construction, to improve the 10 Healthy Streets indicators.

Even just a flick through the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures show clearly how streets of all kinds have been made better for people:  Footways widened; direct crossings put in at the point where people want to cross the street; seating and planting; a range of measures to reduce the dominance of motorised vehicles on streets of all sizes.

It’s great to see such a variety of locations – town centres across outer London including Hornchurch, Bexley Heath, Southall and Harlesden; major junctions in central London including Holborn Circus, Euston Circus and Aldgate Gyratory; and local streets such as Bonnington Square in Lambeth and Royal College Street in Camden.  My favourite street in London, Van Gogh Walk, also features.

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My favourite street in London: Van Gogh Walk (Image: TfL)

But what sets this report apart from its predecessor – Better Streets Delivered – is that the health benefit delivered by these street improvements has been calculated to show in £’s the human value of improving streets. For all the projects that I could get hold of some basic data on levels of people walking and cycling I applied the World Health Organisation’s Health Economic Assessment Tool for Walking & Cycling. This tool shows the monetised health benefit of people staying healthier and avoiding long term conditions because they were being more physically active.

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Hornchurch town centre now delivers £500,000 in health benefits each year from increased footfall (Image: TfL)

You’ll see that the monetised health benefit varies depending on the levels of walking and cycling in each location. Some places in central London deliver £2-3m in health benefits each year but even more modest schemes in outer London deliver around £500,000 each year in health benefits.  Given that these calculations are conservative and (due to lack of data) often do not capture both the cycling and walking health benefits the reality is that these figures could probably be higher.

You can do these sums yourself, if you want to read more about how to calculate the monetised health benefits of transport projects, I have written this guidance.

 

New Spring Features

In Spring 2017 there’s been a flurry of events and new articles on Healthy Streets.

Events

In February the Sustrans Street Talk was led by Val Shawcross (London Deputy Mayor for Transport) and Will Norman (the Mayor’s new Walking and Cycling Commissioner) introducing Healthy Streets – you can watch their presentations here

In March Transport for London held a conference on Healthy Streets and making London a better city for walking. Speakers included Val Shawcross, Janette Sadik-Khan (Former Commissioner of New York City Dept of Transportation),Christophe Najdovski (Deputy Mayor for Paris) and TV doctor Dr Xand Van Tulleken. This was followed by the Living Streets Walking Summit, videos from the Summit are available here

At the second Sustrans Street Talk in April Lucy joined a panel including the Guardian’s Peter Walker and Laura Laker to discuss the challenges of building cycle infrastructure and engaging communities in changing public realm. Lucy emphasised the benefit of the Healthy Streets Approach in engaging communities to imagine how their streets could be different and better by focusing on the 10 Indicators of a Healthy Street.

New articles

The Spring 2017 edition of  Urban Design Group Journal focused on health and urban design with an article by Lucy on Healthy Streets

In April 2017, in anticipation of the forthcoming London Mayor’s Transport Strategy Nick Sanderson discusses the opportunities and challenges of implementing the Healthy Streets Approach in his Environment Journal blog.

In March 2017 Lucy posted a guest blog for the Urban Transport Group on the value of embedding health considerations into city transport planning.

For International Women’s Day Lucy featured amongst esteemed company in the Environment Journal 5 inspiring women working to change the way we travel.

What’s next?

And there’s more to look forward to in the coming weeks with some high profile conference appearances, Public Health Today featuring Healthy Streets in its forthcoming Spring edition, a podcast in the pipeline and of course the draft Mayor’s Transport Strategy for London

Healthy Streets for London

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This week Transport for London published Healthy Streets for London. This is a bold statement of intent by one of the world’s largest transport authorities to put people, and their health, at the heart of decision making and project delivery.

The Healthy Streets Approach will be delivered through activity at three levels of planning:

  • Street Level – designing and maintaining high quality street environments that are welcoming to everyone and no longer dominated by motorised traffic.
  • Network level – planning and managing the public transport and road networks so that street space can be fairly allocated to sustainable travel.
  • Strategic level – ensuring London’s growth enables more people to live in healthy environments where walking and cycling are easy and convenient for shorter trips and public transport is an attractive option for longer trips.

The overall objective is to deliver the 10 Healthy Streets Indicators “to create a healthier city, in which all people are included and can live well, and where inequalities are reduced”.

10 Healthy Streets Indicators

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TfL has committed to investing £2.1bn to deliver a Healthy Streets Portfolio of street improvements. However the document makes clear that this is only one part of delivering Healthy Streets and that partnership working with public, private and community sector organisations is essential. To support this the Healthy Streets Approach will be embedded in all the Mayor of London’s statutory strategies.

More details of how the Healthy Streets Approach will be delivered in London is promised in the forthcoming Mayor’s Transport Strategy and TfL’s second Health Action Plan.

Back to the start

On February 22nd Deputy Mayor for Transport,Valerie Shawcross and Walking & Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman will be talking about Healthy Streets at the first Street Talk of 2017.

To see how far we have come then why not head right back to the start of Street Talks and this presentation on Healthy Streets from 2012.

Welcome to the Healthy Streets website

This is the website for Lucy Saunders, who created the Healthy Streets Approach in 2011 to enable strategic and local planning, placemaking and urban design to deliver the best results for people. You can find out more about Lucy here.

You can find an overview of Healthy Streets, its evidence base and application here.

Healthy Streets has been adopted policy at Transport for London since their 2014 Health Action Plan.  Under Mayor Sadiq Khan this approach is becoming more deeply embedded in transport and planning policy in London.  You can follow the latest Healthy Streets policy developments here.

You can find links to all Lucy’s publications on transport and health here.