London set to become the world’s most walkable city

Plans to create an extra million walking trips each year by 2024 have been unveiled.

Research shows too many Londoners are put off walking due to concerns about road danger or worries about their levels of physical fitness.

Greater London Authority research has shown that if every Londoner walked or cycled for 20 minutes a day it would save the NHS £1.7bn over the next 25 years.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, plans to encourage more Londoners to walk or cycle by investing a record £2.2 bn to improve air quality across the capital.

The Walking Action Plan aims to create more pedestrian crossings and walking routes and ensure that walking is prioritised in every new infrastructure scheme.

This scheme will also expand into schools by doubling the number of gold accredited STARS schools, which champion healthy routes to schools and introducing car-free days, in the hope to get thousands of more children walking to school.

Deputy Mayor of Hackney, Cllr Feryal Demirci said: “We’re proud to support the launch of the first London Walking Plan at Gayhurst School, one of Hackney’s 16 gold accredited STAR schools.

‘The new walking plan complements the work we’re doing to promote the work in Hackney, including prioritising pedestrians in our transport schemes, increasing the number of school streets, where we ban cars from outside schools during opening and closing times and our ambition to get 70% of children walking to school by 2025.”

Innovative and safer traffic signal technology will also be launched for pedestrians to cross roads easier and safer.

Lilli Matson, Director of Transport Strategy at TfL said: “The Walking in Action Plan will encourage even more Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to make walking their first choice for short trips. This will improve Londoners’ health, as well as air quality and traffic congestion, local businesses and the economy.”

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.

Transport for London says it is working closely with all London boroughs to deliver attractive, healthy and safe streets, including the £115 million Liveable Neighbourhoods programme, with the first seven projects starting in 2018.

As many as 65 pe rcent of disabled Londoners consider pavements to be a barrier and TfL is planning to lobby the Government to make it easier to remove street clutter.

Alongside London’s first Walking Action Plan, the Mayor of London is to launch the 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.

With London’s population expected to rise to 10.8m by 2041, creating five million additional journeys every day, TfL says it’s vital action is taken to avoid growing congestion, overcrowding, pollution, and ill health.

Featured image courtesy of Sam Rodgers via Flickr

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