Healthy Streets asks for the May 2022 council elections

We would like all councillors to commit to improving Harrow’s streets to make them safer and more people-friendly, and to enable and encourage active travel. We would like to see improvements in Harrow’s Healthy Streets scorecard results. We have written an open letter to Harrow’s council leaders urging them to take action, and written detailed strategic recommendations.

So far (as of 4 May 2022), only the Green Party candidates have signed up to our pledges.

We asked all candidates to commit to the following:

1. Safe walking and cycling routes to secondary schools

Harrow Council should create safe routes from catchment areas to all secondary schools in the borough of Harrow, for students to be able to cycle and walk safely and independently by 2026.

Local authorities have a duty to promote sustainable modes of travel to school. Enabling children to cycle to school will provide them with physical activity, promote independence and reduce congestion on roads and buses.

Harrow council recently put in place 4 ‘school streets’, where minor roads around schools are closed to traffic at school opening and closing times to keep children safe from road danger and pollution. School streets have been extremely popular, have increased the number of children walking to school, and should be rolled out more widely. There is also a need for protected cycle lanes and safe crossings for children who live further than walking distance from school.

Ensure safe, convenient provision for cycling on all TfL strategic cycle analysis routes by 2026. These may consist of protected cycle lanes on main roads, or direct alternatives on paths or roads with very low traffic levels, ensuring they are safe and accessible at all hours and at all times of year.

Based on TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis and the Temporary Strategic Cycling Analysis for Streetspace, we have produced a detailed set of recommendations on how the cycle network could be created, and how the High Street Fund schemes could also support such a network.

2. Safer streets with long term traffic reduction

Harrow should adopt a borough-wide default 20 mph limit by April 2024, with effective enforcement measures as needed.

The existing 30mph default speed limit is outdated and not evidence-based. The World Health Organization recommends 20mph as the limit wherever motor traffic and vulnerable road users mix, and many outer London boroughs (e.g. Croydon, Ealing, Haringey) and other UK towns have already taken this step. Speed limits higher than 20mph should only be applied to major roads with segregated walking and cycling provision where it is safe.

Set targets and produce action plan by December 2022 to reduce the number of motor vehicle miles in the Borough to 2010 levels, for implementation beginning in 2023 and completed by 2026.

Car traffic in Harrow has increased by 60% in the past decade (see below, data from DfT). Reversing this trend will require measures to discourage car ownership and car use, and make alternatives to driving easier, safer and more accessible. For details about possible ways to achieve this, please visit our strategy pages.

3. Public health approach to decision making

Set up a Healthy Streets Panel by December 2022, chaired by the Public Health Team, to review all transport provision from an active travel perspective, and to incorporate cycling (including disabled cycling) into the public health approach to rehabilitation and social prescribing.

The council has previously failed to gain public support for healthy streets improvements, because of difficulty in engaging with residents, poor communication of the benefits, and in some cases poor design and implementation. A public health approach will reframe these improvements as public health rather than purely transport interventions, and help people to understand that they are in the public interest.

Involving people with experience using different forms of active travel (e.g. cycles, wheelchairs, adapted cycles), as well as health, education and disability organisations, will ensure that future road schemes are designed to be as safe, inclusive and accessible as possible.

4. Support people to learn to cycle or try out cycling

Support Harrow Cycle Hub to operate in secure spaces until its permanent base is ready, so that it can continue to help people have the chance to cycle.

Harrow Cycle Hub is a charity which aims to enable all Harrow’s communities to enjoy cycling. Since starting in 2020, the Hub has trained numerous cycle coaches, delivered courses on learning to ride, confidence building and cycle maintenance, and held a Wheels For All inclusive cycling event in August 2021.

The Hub currently operates on the Civic centre site which is due to be redeveloped, and needs to be continued to have access to space for storing bikes and teaching people to cycle.

Provide a borough-wide ‘Try Before You Bike’ Scheme (e.g. Peddle My Wheels) by July 2023, and ensure continuation of adult cycle training for people new to cycling.

Cargo or adapted cycles are expensive to buy outright, so people need the option to be able to try them out and pay in instalments. The ‘try before you bike’ service offered by peddlemywheels, which many London councils have signed up to, allows people to try out a cycle and hire it by the month.

5. Residential cycle parking

Install 100 modestly-priced accessible cycle hangars, including spaces for non-standard cycles, in areas of multiple occupancy or terraced housing where people have nowhere to store a bike, by 2024. New developments in Harrow should be low-car, with ample cycle parking. Disabled cycle users should be able to apply for free, secure cycle parking spaces just as Blue Badge drivers can.

Lack of secure storage for cycles can prevent people from being able to own and use a cycle. In contrast, on-street car parking is free of charge or modestly priced and readily available. Residential cycle storage can be provided by building cycle hangars in on-street parking spaces (12 standard cycles can fit in the space of 1 car), as almost all other London boroughs have done.

Harrow council should review its car parking policies as recommended by CPRE and the Healthy Streets Scorecard coalition. Effective parking management is a tool to reduce car ownership, encourage less polluting modes of transport and generate revenue for improving our streets.

One thought on “Healthy Streets asks for the May 2022 council elections

Comments are closed.