Opinion Former Article

Call to calm hostile London junctions

Too many roads and busy junctions in outer London are hostile places for those on foot or in the saddle and create severance in local communities, according to the capital’s political watchdog.

The London Assembly says the Mayor must do more to make it safe and convenient to walk and cycle in these areas. Chair of the Assembly’s transport committee Caroline Russell says: “In recent years most of the Mayor’s funding has been spent in inner and central London. Decisions around new road schemes have prioritised car use and inappropriately high speed limits have been all too common.”

She adds that while she is pleased to see walking and cycling at the forefront of the Mayor’s Healthy Streets approach and draft Transport Strategy, “there is a lot to be done in outer London where most of the untapped potential lies”.

“If the Mayor is going to meet his target to get 80% of journeys made by walking, cycling and public transport by 2041, he must make it safer and more convenient to walk and cycle. This means changing the culture at TfL and prioritising people, not cars, on London’s streets.”

The London Assembly’s report ‘Hostile Streets – Walking and Cycling at Outer London Junctions’ says that some roads in outer boroughs do not offer even a basic level of service, with crossings inaccessible to wheelchairs and incomplete cycle lanes that push cyclists out into fast moving traffic.

Accident reporting data shows that three quarters of the 9718 people who were injured walking or cycling on London’s roads in 2016 were involved in collisions at junctions. And 71% of the 1287 crashes where people were killed or seriously injured happened at junctions.

The report recommends that Transport for London should look beyond collision data and consider the potential to increase walking and cycling when selecting junctions to improve.

It also says that TfL should review the speed limits on all its roads in line with its new Healthy Streets check and that the authority and its contractors should – when carrying out roadworks – check and resolve critical safety issues for pedestrians and cyclists.

Urban Movement director John Dales MCIHT, who chaired a launch event for the report on Monday, said: “When it comes to busy roads, especially in outer London, we need to understand the extent to which current design and features limit the potential for walking and cycling. We know there is a lot of potential, but it would appear that this potential is being suppressed.”

He adds that if the Mayor is going to achieve his ambition of getting more people walking and cycling, policy makers need to be thinking beyond improving sites with a known road safety problem and make efforts to make active travel easier and safer at other key locations as well.

London’s walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman responded: “The safety of our roads is one of our key priorities and we will be looking at the report and its recommendations in detail.

“The Mayor is investing record amounts in making walking and cycling safer all across London, and TfL’s Vision Zero approach is committed to eliminating all death and serious injury on London’s roads by 2041. This includes working with boroughs to create more 20MPH zones.”

♦ Also this week, the London Assembly’s Caroline Russell has called on the Mayor to tackle traffic congestion with distance based road charging. She says an independent report commissioned by Transport for London makes the recommendation, along with others that include the introduction of workplace parking levies.

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