Waltham Forest is a diverse and vibrant place growing faster than any other London borough. To ensure this is sustainable, £27 million of ‘Mini-Holland’ funding and £800,000 (Borough Cycling Programme) from TfL is being invested to improve infrastructure and encourage walking and cycling.
This programme aims to: substantially increase active travel within the borough; shift a significant proportion of short local car trips to cycles; improve the look and feel of public spaces; stimulate economic regeneration; improve actual and perceived safety for cyclists; encourage physical activity and reduce the burden of preventable diseases.
The ‘Enjoy Waltham Forest’ programme focuses on a range of place-based development to ensure freedom and choice of healthier lifestyles for all residents. Our 2020 Vision Cycling Plan includes the target that by 2020 10% of all journeys will be undertaken by bike. The programme includes a network of town centre, route and village schemes, which commenced in 2015. The initial programme of development is 85% finished and will be completed in late 2019. Lea Bridge Road, the flagship scheme, is currently being completed to transform this key route into an attractive destination for all, with new public spaces and a world class cycle route.
The volume of people cycling on the road has grown by 622% between 2004 and 2014, accounting for 10% of all vehicles. Our recently installed cycle counting shows that in the region of 3,000 trips are cycled daily and this number continues to increase.
How has this place made a promising start on the journey to completion?
Enjoy Waltham Forest aims to transform the environment and create a more healthy place to live, work and travel. It has already had a dramatic effect on the numbers of people cycling and walking in the borough, and on the resulting improvement in air quality. The benefits of the programme to date include reduced traffic levels; increased walking and cycling and reducedlocal levels of emissions from vehicles.
To monitor the shift to cycling, the council has installed cycle counters at 12key locations. Charts included in our supporting evidence show the increasing trend of cycling. Using baseline data collected before the programme started, the number of cycles recorded on average per day is increasing dramatically, with an increase of 118% on Forest Road between September 2016 and September 2018.The improvements and investments in Waltham Forest’s cycling and walking network have led to an increase in other regeneration projects borough-wide.
The programme is still being implemented and therefore the full benefits will not be realised for many years to come. However, King’s College London has undertook research and modelling in spring 2018 to show the predicted benefits. They used LAEI air quality data from 2013 and modelled predicted pollution levels for Nitrogen Dioxide for2020. They have tailored the work to the programme’s new segregated cycle lanes, modal filters and reduced 20mph speed limit. The team found that between 2013 and 2020 on popular cycling routes, exposure of NO2 is predicted to reduce by up to 25%.
What initiatives have contributed to this new place?
The engagement and consultation process for Enjoy Waltham Forest invested significant resource in making sure the whole community had ongoing and varied opportunities to participate. In total, over 25,000 local people took part in the process, which provided evidence as part of the planning process.
Each neighbourhood scheme started with a perception survey conducted online via the Commonplace platform and through pop-up events and community meetings. The survey asked people to identify places they felt were working well and places that could be improved, all of which was displayed online as a heatmap, and used to inform the design process. A summary was also published as an infographic.
Proposals were therefore developed by the team in direct response to community needs and ideas, and were then published on Commonplace for public response, and taken to approximately 100 community events and pop-up meetings. All the data was collected on Commonplace, analysed in real-time using its online dashboard, and then summarised by Commonplace in reports created for members. The final plans were amended before submission for approval alongside the engagement evidence. The majority of respondents were local residents, and included roughly equal numbers of people who drive as well as those who walk and cycle. The level of public and stakeholder involvement in Enjoy Waltham Forest was significantly larger than any previous engagements in the borough, and has become a major differentiator in the success of the overall programme.
To date, over 26km of segregated cycle track has been completed. The programme has many awards andaccolades such as Planning Magazine’s Best Stakeholder Engagement in 2017, who cited it as an example of ‘the future of planning.’ Environmental benefits in the ‘village’ area of Walthamstow include traffic falling by 56% (10,000 fewer vehicles per day), and average traffic speed reduction from 22.3mph to 21mph. In another local area of Francis Road, there was an average 50% reduction in vehicle numbers. They have seen an average decrease of 4,354 vehicles on Francis Road a day. The air quality benefits were reported in The Evening Standard, stating that ‘children will live longer in Waltham Forest thanks to the Mini Holland (Enjoy Waltham Forest)
Other benefits to residents include cycle parking. Over 5,000 hangar spaces have been requested, 340 installed (with 1,700 spaces), 472 secure cycle spaces across 7 cycle hubs have been introduced, and due to high demand works are currently being undertaken to double the hubs capacity.