Reclaiming our roads: making space for Londoners

In September 2019 I hosted an event with London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets to discuss next steps for making journeys to school healthier and safer.

I presented my report on Londoners reclaiming their roads; from parents at the school gate reclaiming space for children from passing traffic, to residents gaining the space to socialise in their own street by making parklets, this is a change that London needs. I want to see space reclaimed from traffic like this throughout London, with strong support from the Mayor.

I’ve picked out the highlights from the agenda and linked to the key presentations and resources. Prof. Peter Kraftl and Dr. Sophie Hadfield-Hill presented their work on sustainable mobility for young people. They have studied in detail how young people navigate and explore new communities. Independent mobility is so important for children because it gives them both the freedom to play but also to learn and become part of society. They have produced a resource pack for engaging children and young people in planning and design.

Allison DuToit of Gehl architects gave us her insight into how the way we build and design spaces affects how we, as humans, behave. Her presentation was a vivid and visual guide to the principles Jan Gehl has brought into urban design for decades that are central to the pleasant spaces of Copenhagen.

Dr Rachel Aldred talked us through the modelling of the Propensity to Cycle Tool. This tool allows anyone to use real data to examine not only how people cycle in England today, but how many people might be able to cycle in future, if we invest in more cycleways and open up streets to cycling.

We rounded off with group discussions for everyone who came along. We had a wide range of campaigners and practitioners exchanging lessons learnt from successful projects.

London’s streets are at the core of our communities. They aren’t just routes taken to school or how we pass our neighbours. We need to change London so that you can sit in your street, know your neighbours and kids are safe to play. I look forward to further discussions where we can turn these ideas into actions to bring healthier, quieter and greener communities to all of London.