Geoff Stilwell introduced Lucy Saunders who leads on the integration of transport and public health at TfL.
Lucy started by saying the the new Deputy Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross is keen to drive forward the Healthy Streets approach she has been developing with Brian Deegan and others at TfL.
When the work started it was hard to decide how to measure a healthy street. Traditional measures include injury reports, Air Quality and noise measurements and tend to assume that physical activity is the most important factor.
HEAT – healthy environment assessment tool
The HEAT tool uses ten indicators of a healthy street. Lucy illustrated each one with an example:
- shade and shelter – example from Sydney where the shade is needed as respite from the hot climate
- places to stop – a ‘parklet’ in Hackney
- not too noisy – the Cut where temporary planting screens the traffic noise
- people feel safe– Turnpike Lane DIY street with trees in containers
- things to see and do – example from Copenhagen
- people feel relaxed – Montreal with seats and plants
- clean air – a view of Seoul where a street has been made into a canal
- people choosing to walk and cycle – Montreal cycleway
- pedestrians from all walks of life – Van Gogh walk in Southwark (looks a bit like a playground)
- places to cross was added as a 10th indicator after discussion
Why Healthy Streets?
The new Mayor and Val Shawcross like the concept because it would mean TfL would include the economic effects of health benefits as well as safety and moving vehicles when designing new schemes.
Lucy provided a visual example of a parade of shops and made a variety of transformations such as widening the footway, lowering speed to 20 mph, adding trees and suggesting other forms of shelter such as awnings and colonnades. Then for places to stop and rest, she pointed out that you don’t have to stick to benches; low walls and planters are useful too. Buildings that face the street make people feel safer and it’s always worth introducing interesting things to look at.
How were these indicators turned into a tool?
Lucy referred to the 9 street types defined by the Roads Task Force. They are arranged in a 3×3 array with Movement on one axis and Place on the other.
A survey was carried out on streets of all the 9 types. People walking were asked about their experience. The first surveys in 2014 were throughout London. In 2015, surveys included 27 locations in Camden.
Healthy Streets check
From the surveys, it was possible to add a set of criteria to each of the indicators. These were all put into a giant spreadsheet that looks quite like the one for CLoS (LCDS Cycling Level of Service). Like CLoS it does look for ‘left hooks’ and ability to keep going at your own speed.
The spreadsheet can be used to evaluate schemes at design stage by considering each thing in the road between the two building lines.
Some examples evaluated by the tool:
Leonard Circus: the scores before and after were compared and on most indicators there was a big improvement, although many people said they hate cycling along it.
Royal College Street: we were disappointed that people didn’t feel any safer and the pedestrian indicators were poorly scored, probably due to the lack of pedestrians.
Holborn Circus: big pedestrian improvements and a large numbers of pedestrians although no improvements in noise or clean air. When a monetary value was applied, the result was very high because of the positive aspects for pedestrians. The few cyclists who use it (and hate it) didn’t show up.
Lucy said that Boroughs with Mini Hollands see the tool as a way forward.
If Lucy allows us, we will provide a link to her slides.
See more of the Photos by Geoff Stilwell.