Walking and cycling ‘key’ to London transport plans

An independent panel of transport, health and environmental experts has published a wide-ranging set of policy proposals to reduce car-use across London, in a bid to tackle air pollution and other health issues.

The independent Commission on the Future of London’s Roads and Streets was convened by Centre for London, a think tank for policy issues relating to the capital, and chaired by NHS England chair Sir Malcolm Grant.

cycling in London air quality

Cycling and walking must be ‘at the centre’ of future transport strategy in London, an expert panel has claimed. (Picture: Michaelpuche/Shutterstock.com)

Other contributors included Professor Frank Kelly of Kings College London, Professor David Metz of the Centre for Transport Studies, University College London and Tony Meehan, Transportation Consultancy practice director, Atkins.

The Commission’s report, published today (10 October), calls on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to make more efficient use of London’s road network by focusing his efforts on creating a transport system “centred on public transport, walking and cycling”.

Specific proposals include targeting the most polluting vehicles through a diesel scrappage scheme paid for by revenue from the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and benefiting motorists who pay ULEZ charges frequently.

Mobility credits

Cashback could be offered in the form of ‘mobility credits’, the report states, which the vehicle owner could use to offset switching to alternative means of transport and encouraging the removal of more vehicles from the roads.

The report states: “This scheme would not divert resources from elsewhere since it would be funded from the ULEZ revenue. It does, however, require a mechanism to restrict a licence holder from applying to pay ULEZ charges for another vehicle once they have benefitted from the cashback offer.”

Elsewhere, the report argues that the capital’s traffic authorities should plan for the rollout of ‘intelligent’ electric vehicle charging infrastructure and develop financial mechanisms to spread grid infrastructure costs fairly across each additional charging point.

Additional effort is required to address ‘non-tailpipe’ sources of air pollution, including particulate matter from vehicle brake and tyre-wear, the report has claimed, calling for ‘more focus’ on PM emissions in anti-pollution measures.

Healthcare

Commenting on the report, Malcolm Grant, chair, NHS England, said: “London’s healthcare system is under huge pressures, including supporting an ageing population with often a prolonged period of ill health later in life; the long term health consequences of obesity, especially childhood obesity; and respiratory problems from air pollution.

“Transforming London’s roads and streets into spaces where people of all ages and abilities can move and exercise healthily and safely can significantly ease these pressures.”

Publication of the report comes after the launch of the Mayor’s draft Transport Strategy in June, which targets a ‘zero emission’ city by 2050 (see airqualitynews.com story).

London transfer air quality

London’s transport strategy has been under the spotlight

The strategy also includes proposals to reduce car journeys by 3 million per day, and to have 80% of journeys made within the city to be either by public transport, walking or cycling by 2041.

Strategy

Ben Rogers, director, Centre for London, added: “London’s transport system is admired around the world and more and more Londoners are giving up private cars in favour of public transport, walking, cycling and a range of new mobility services.

“The Mayor’s draft Transport Strategy makes it clear he wants to see this trend continue. But he will need to introduce some brave and farsighted reforms if we are going to tackle London’s worsening congestion and air pollution, and create a healthier and more liveable city.

“With the help of the reforms proposed by the Commission, London could be admired across the world for the way it enables easy, pollution-free and affordable movement around the city, the vitality of its neighbourhoods, and the quality of its public realm.”

On Friday, the Mayor called on vehicle manufacturers to contribute to the London Air Quality Fund in recognition of the impact that diesel vehicles have on air quality and public health in the capital.

The Mayor wrote to senior officials at BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen urging them to take “serious action” on diesel emissions.