School Streets Showdown in Bromley

Road Open Sign, Correx - Brightkidz % road open sign
Source: https://brightkidz.co.uk/product/road-open-sign-correx/

A special meeting of Bromley Council’s Environment Committee will be held at 9am on Friday 15 July 2022. This meeting has one agenda item: the future of School Streets in London Borough of Bromley. If you’re a Bromley resident, do this now:

  1. Send an email to committee.services@bromley.gov.uk, including a 50 word question on School Streets (see below for more ideas about questions to ask), and explain your question is for the Environment Committee meeting on Friday 15 July. Questions must be received by 5pm on Monday 11 July.
  2. Write to your councillors (your elected representatives in local government) today to ask them why Bromley came 27th out of 33 London Boroughs in the 2022 Healthy Streets Scorecard (published on 5 July 2022), and what they intend to do about it. If one of your councillors is Cllr Thomas Turrell (councillor for Hayes and Coney Hall), you might want to ask him why he didn’t voice his support for Hayes Primary School Street at the Environment Committee meeting on 21 June, given that this School Street is in his ward, and he was present at the meeting.
  3. If you’re free 9am til 10am on Friday 15 July, fill out this form to register to attend the Environment Committee meeting on School Streets. We’ll see you there.

Why now?

At the Environment meeting on 21 June, a fractious debate took place over the council’s review of School Streets. On 24 June, Cllr Nicholas Bennett (Portfolio Holder for Transport) decided Bromley Council will not actively roll out School Streets in the borough. The following Friday (1 July), Bromley Labour and Bromley Liberal Democrats both independently “called in” this decision. This means the decision goes back to the Environment Committee to reconsider. This is happening on Friday 15 July, and that’s why we hope as many Bromley residents as possible will submit questions to this meeting or attend it in person.

What happens at a call in?

A “call in” meeting revisits a decision made by Bromley Council. Historically, call in meetings in Bromley provide a valuable opportunity to show the strength of feeling on an issue. For example, the call in meeting on the decision to relocate Beckenham Library took place during working hours on a weekday, but the public gallery was packed.

It is worth noting that it is not only opposition parties who call in decisions. For example, Bromley Conservative councillors previously called in a decision on the Crofton Road cycle way.

What is a School Street?

You can find out more by clicking one of these links:

Bromley Living Streets’ briefing on school streets

Mums for lungs

Living Streets

http://schoolstreets.org.uk/

Questions that can be submitted by residents to the call in meeting

  1. ANPR camera enforcement is used for all School Streets in Islington (where 49% of schools have School Streets), Hackney (45%), and Bromley’s neighbour Lewisham. Bromley hasn’t trialled ANPR for School Streets, on grounds of cost, but elsewhere ANPR cameras generate revenue. Will Bromley Council now trial ANPR for School Streets?
  2. Bromley has the highest % of trips made by car in the whole of London at 53%, and a target within the Mayor’s Transport Strategy to reduce this to 40%. Given the School Streets decision, can the Portfolio Holder now provide an indication of how this target will be reached?

ULEZ motion in Bromley Council

On Monday 18 July at 7pm, a meeting of the full Council (all 58 councillors) will take place in London Borough of Bromley. One of the items that will be discussed is a motion which calls on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to abandon his plans to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The text of the motion can be found below. We encourage Bromley residents to do two things:

  1. Submit questions to the Portfolio Holders for Transport (Cllr Bennett) and Environment (Cllr Cuthbert) around this motion which they are moving. Do this by sending an email to committee.services@bromley.gov.uk, including a 50 word question on ULEZ (see below for more ideas about questions to ask), and explain your question is for the Council meeting on Monday 18 July. Questions must be received by 5pm on Tuesday 12 July.
  2. Use this link to reply to the consultation on the expansion of the ULEZ.

The text of the motion is as follows:

“This Council supports the objective of improving air quality and to this end has published a comprehensive Air Quality Action Plan 2020-2025 with a matrix of twenty-five actions. The Council is committed to ensuring that its operation is carbon net zero by 2027. In addition, a further 5,000 trees are being planted on the borough’s roads to add to the existing 36,000. We are also continuing our rollout of LED street lighting, installing new electric charge points, and investing in renewable energy. The Council, however, disagrees strongly with the proposal to extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to outer London by August 2023. Bromley is, geographically, the largest London Borough, and contains many rural areas which have little public transport and where, unlike inner London, residents are dependent on their cars. The Council is particularly concerned about the impact on the self-employed, small businesses which rely on their vehicles to conduct their trade and on elderly residents and others on fixed incomes. Already facing substantial increases in fuel costs, the imposition of a daily charge to drive in the borough will be an additional financial burden and, for many, without the means purchase a compliant vehicle, it will mean they can no longer trade or afford to drive. The imposition of the ULEZ charge on motorists, including those entering Bromley from neighbouring counties will also be detrimental, especially for those like nurses, police officers, supermarket shelf fillers and others working anti-social hours when public transport is not available. The Council therefore calls on Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, to abandon his plans to extend the ULEZ.”

Some questions

  1. When will Bromley Council report on progress made against the matrix of 25 actions contained in the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan, and will the Council consider introducing targets to this plan in order to measure progress?
  2. National Travel Survey statistics indicate the most common purpose for a trip by car was for leisure (30%) in 2020. Given that these trips negatively impact other residents (e.g. 23% Bromley households with no car), how does Bromley Council propose to reduce those trips?
  3. Just 2 A roads in Bromley Borough are the responsibility of TfL, and yet page 3 of Bromley Council’s Air Quality Action Plan states that the majority of Bromley’s busy A roads are the responsibility of TfL. Please comment.
  4. We need to halve emissions by 2030 to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees. The Council’s own calculations indicate Bromley’s 5000 extra trees will reduce borough emissions by 0.008% after 30 years. If not ULEZ, then what methods will Bromley Council use to reduce the borough’s emissions?
  5. In the past decade, vehicle miles travelled in Bromley borough increased from 800 million to a billion. If not ULEZ, then what methods will Bromley Council use to reduce congestion and carbon emissions and air pollution from transport?

Now the elections are over, what next for safer walking and cycling in Bromley?

The local elections brought in a number of new councillors to represent wards across Bromley. As shown below, the main changes were Liberal Democrat councillors in Beckenham Town & Copers Cope and Bromley Town, Labour councillors in Plaistow and St Mary Cray, and the independent party Chislehurst Matters in Chislehurst. Bromley remains Conservative-controlled with a majority of 14 councillors. Many wards that remained Conservative also had new ward councillors selected. 

What does this mean for ongoing community-led efforts to improve the safety and liveability of our streets? The good news is that many new councillors take a supportive stance on safer streets, air pollution, encouraging walking and cycling, and climate change. Moreover, the range of councillors elected promises vibrant debate on many topics.

CLEAN AIR
Bromley Liberal Democrats supported Mums for Lungs election pledges, which included a call for a clean air cabinet member, a diesel-free borough by 2030, advocacy to phase out wood burning and the goal of delivering a School Street at every school by 2025 (with an alternative package of road safety measures where temporary road closures are not feasible).

SUPPORT FOR CYCLING
Bromley Liberal Democrats, Bromley Labour, Bromley Greens and Chislehurst Matters all supported Bromley Cyclists’ call for the development and implementation of an active travel strategy designed to increase the cycling trip share in Bromley from 1.8% to 5% by 2026/7. While the Conservatives did not provide a formal endorsement, Councillor Michael Tickner (Beckenham Town & Copers Cope ward) crucially acknowledged by email that: “safe cycle-friendly infrastructure has to be provided first in order for more people to take up cycling, not the other way round”. 

CLIMATE ACTION
Bromley Liberal Democrats, Bromley Labour and Bromley Green Party supported a coalition of community and faith-based groups calling for Bromley Council to declare a climate emergency and produce a plan to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all activities across the borough. Climate action, active travel and road safety are tightly-linked issues as reaching net-zero will require a large shift towards walking, cycling and public transport use in Bromley.

In addition to this, all parties covered issues related to air quality, safer streets and more support for walking and cycling for all, such as the lack of a safe crossing at Chislehurst War Memorial, the lack of safe crossings on South Eden Park Road, and concerns over safety raised in the 2020 School Travel Survey conducted by Bromley Living Streets.

So what changes can we expect to see, and how can local communities support all ward councillors to give Bromley residents more sustainable travel choices and cleaner air? In this blog post we set out four priorities for change and four things that you can do to support councillors.

FOUR PRIORITIES FOR ACTION

1. Safe pedestrian crossings
Local centres across Bromley should have pedestrian crossings – either zebra or signalised crossings – to create safe walking routes to local parks, schools, high streets, and public facilities. These routes should be provided pro-actively, instead of waiting for a minimum number of casualties to justify a crossing at any given location.

2. A cycle network
Bromley lacks a joined-up network of separated cycle lanes across the borough, which is a major barrier to cycling for many residents. A network of protected cycle lanes connecting local centres across the borough will make it safer to switch to cycling as a low-cost travel option that reduces air pollution, congestion, and increases daily exercise.

3. Measures to reduce speeding
Until now Bromley Council has only taken limited action on speeding, often deferring responsibility to the Metropolitan Police and installing advisory warning signs that make only minimal difference to driver behaviour. Traffic calming measures should be introduced to reduce vehicle speeds and improve road safety.

4. School Streets
A School Street is a temporary restriction on motor vehicle traffic outside schools during drop-off and pick-up hours, to improve air quality and traffic safety at the school gate, and encourage parents to walk or cycle instead of driving. Over 500 School Streets have been introduced in London, mostly since the start of the pandemic. Bromley Council received funding from TfL for 11 School Streets but only six have been implemented so far.

FOUR WAYS TO ACTIVELY SUPPORT CHANGE

1. Make your voice heard
Your ward councillors are accountable to you, and you can write to them to ask for stronger action to make it safer to walk and cycle locally. Walking and cycling schemes can be sensitive when they impact things like on-street parking or right-of-way for drivers, so it’s important that councillors hear from those supporting change. You can copy your local residents’ association and Bromley Living Streets in on correspondence with councillors. Additionally, you can submit questions to Bromley Council to raise concerns at its Environment Committee public meeting. You can also subscribe to newsletters from Bromley Living Streets to stay up to date.

2. Start small
Alongside campaigns calling for safer streets, we can also push for change by working with the organisations and groups to which we are already connected. Reach out to your child’s school to ask about setting up a School Street, or work with your local church, faith group, community organisation or sports club to encourage and enable people to walk, cycle or take public transport to meetings or activities where possible.

3. Leadership from community and business organisations
Many organisations are reluctant to take openly political positions, however, this doesn’t mean you cannot give general support to measures that would improve road safety, air quality, and enable active travel. Moreover, as a key local stakeholder you could also contribute to shape how new schemes are designed and implemented to ensure that they meet local needs. For businesses this also makes good financial sense: more walkable streets are important to the local economy, pedestrians and cyclists spend 40% more in local shops than those travelling by car, and unsafe levels of air pollution are beginning to have a negative impact on property values.

4. Don’t give up!
Unfortunately, these changes won’t happen overnight. Continued support is needed from residents to encourage councillors to support safer streets, and hold them to account if they don’t deliver on their commitments.

15-Minute Cities Webinar – Recap

In case you missed last night’s webinar on 15-Minute Cities, this blog post summarises the presentations by Alice Roberts from CPRE London and Jeremy Leach from London Living Streets.

Alice Roberts: Planning for sustainable transport
At CPRE London we talk a lot about development because there’s a strong relationship between development and land use. Today, I want to talk about density as this is a common issue around London. We have spent a long time, in Enfield for example, looking at issues around densification and finding space to build. I’m talking about the interplay between density, green spaces – including the green belt – and transport.

At the heart of urban planning you’ve got a choice. You can have a sprawling city that tends to be low density, which is high-carbon by definition because more things have to move around further, and they tend to move around by car. The sprawling city is characterised by less active lifestyles because people are using cars. We call this a ‘climate unsafe’ environment because that is high-carbon. A compact city, on the other hand, will have something constraining development around it, like a green belt, so that it does not sprawl into the countryside. It’s more likely to be high-density development, lower-carbon, it would rely more on public transport, walking and cycling. Public transport is more viable as density increases, and more walking and cycling in a higher-density environment supports health. We call this a ‘climate safe’ environment because it is lower carbon. Slide 3 shows London’s Green Belt – the green areas are very important, and if you can see Bromley in the south east, it has a a lot of green belt area.

Moving to the density issue, the photos on Slide 4 are from Dartford. They show interesting densities – on the left you’ve got something with 25 dwellings per hectare and on the right, 69 dwellings per hectare. Neither have blocks of flats or tower blocks, but there’s a huge difference in density. The most important thing to remember is that anything below ~60 dwellings per hectare means that you cannot support public transport well. Ideally, you’d be up near to 100, but 69 dwellings per hectare is at least able to support a bus service to be financially viable.

Slide 4 (Click image to see a higher-resolution version)

The density debate is strong, particularly in outer London boroughs. Density is not a new thing. These two pictures on Slide 5, one old and one new, are high density but not necessarily what comes to mind when people struggle with the idea of density. They’re often thinking about high rise blocks, and frankly, in many cases that is what’s happening. We don’t support that, mostly because it’s not popular in many areas, but also it’s not a great way for families to live, in a very large high rise block.

Slide 5

Slide 6 shows a site in Enfield that will be developed, clearly showing the links between land use and transport. There is a car-dependent retail centre on the A10 in Enfield with a vast area of surface car-parking that encourages car trips and is a poor use of space. We’re trying to move to a situation where people need to make fewer car trips, and one of the ways to do that is by increasing density. This development will likely convert a large car park to a very high-density development – much higher than we or local campaigners support in that area. We think they could have got a lot of housing build without tower blocks, but that’s a separate story. Slide 7 shows an example of what we might support. The Assembly in Hounslow is 4 stories, and it is a car-free development. This means that people who live here cannot get a car parking permit, except for disabled residents, so you’re not adding cars to the local streets as a result of the development.

Slides 8-9 show how density has benefits. Land is used more efficiently – the land cost is lower per dwelling, partly because space is not needed for car parking, but also because you may have 3-4 dwellings on different stories. A wider range of shops and services can be supported, and critically, people benefit from faster, more reliable and frequent public transport systems because they become more effective in energy and cost. The cost of personal transport also diminishes as density increases, and better transport means better access to jobs and leisure, partly because higher densities can support those services. The cost of providing services also declines, as does isolation and social exclusion for people without a car. Density enables greater vitality and diversity, more services and facilities, a wider choice of restaurants theatres and cinemas may be available. Above all, in higher-density urban areas, this diversity is within easy reach of where most people live, so ease of access is a key factor which has critical implications for a sustainable quality of urban life.

Let’s think about what a 15 minute walk looks like in an area like this – Slide 10 shows a 15 minute walk from Bromley centre, in purple, and the pink area is a 15 minute cycle. If you’re talking about a 15 minute city, it needs to be 15 minutes walking really, either intensifying smaller centres to improve their viability or focusing on larger town centres. You can do it one way or another, but the housing has to go somewhere. While we don’t support the huge targets that councils are being given, we need to get on board with findings space to build. The choices are about, do we densify neighbourhood centres, do we densify town centres within Bromley, or what do we do?

Slide 10 (Click image to see a higher-resolution version)

People often don’t realise that a quarter of houses in Bromley don’t have access to a car. That is one of the lower figures, but it is still a lot of households. Those residents will be served better if they can move easily by public transport, walking and cycling to access local shops and amenities. Slides 11-12 come from the Healthy Streets Scorecard project. Slide 11 shows that the sustainable mode share, the proportion of trips by public transport, walking or cycling, is low in Bromley – just below 50%. That is a problem, so, as London densifies we cannot put more cars in. We need to think about how we can shift people from car journeys, not necessarily from owning cars but from using them so frequently, to public transport, walking and cycling. Thinking about how density interplays with that is important. Slide 12 shows that interestingly, the number of adults walking regularly is high in Bromley. It compares for instance with Southwark, at 40%. While it needs to be higher for people to be healthy, it was interesting that Bromley residents are already walking a fair amount, even though there are a large number of car journeys and cars in the borough.

To conclude – this is a picture of what we might like to be working towards, a vibrant neighbourhood centre that is attractive, sustainable and viable.

Slide 13

Jeremy Leach, London Living Streets: 15-Minute Cities for Bromley – Making Bromley a Great Place for Active Travel
I’ve looked at Bromley as a borough, but particularly at Beckenham, Bromley and Orpington in relation to active travel – walking and cycling – and how that complements the idea of compact living. Living Streets was formed as the Pedestrians Association in 1929, London Living Streets is an umbrella for the borough groups across London, formed in 2016. London needs to became a liveable city, a walking city, and inclusive city and a healthy city and a safer city. We’re advocates for walking, but also strong advocates for great places.

Slide 3 shows a nice example Waltham Forest in outer London, Francis Road in Leyton. In 2018 they won awards based on the transformation of a relatively unsuccessful local shopping parade, by closing it to motor traffic from 10am-8pm and making significant public realm improvements. These changes were taken on board by the local businesses, traffic volumes more than halved and the local economy boomed. Slide 4 shows another example of pedestrianisation scheme around Herne Hill station, where 2/5 of people agreed that people were spending more money in the area and 2/3 of pedestrians said they shop more in this location. There’s much more data on the impacts of street upgrades on job creation and the local economy, see the work that Living Streets have done on the Pedestrian Pound.

What’s the position around Bromley? Beckenham, Bromley and Orpington have large catchment areas within a 15-minute walk of the town centre (Slide 5). If it’s safe and convenient to walk and visit on foot, local centres can attract large numbers of residents. For cycling, Slide 6 shows huge potential to attract people to these three town centres if we can make cycling conditions better.

However, levels of cycling in Bromley are amongst the lowest in London, with under 2% of people cycling five times per week. Slide 7 shows that the number of casualties per cycling journey made in Bromley are amongst the highest in London. Slide 8 shows the patterns of where casualties occur – concentrated on the main roads. Almost 2/3 of serious or fatal cycling casualties in Bromley occur on A and B roads, and you can see those patterns clearly in the north of the borough on that East-West axis around Beckenham, based on data from 2016-2020. Slide 9 shows the lack of infrastructure for cycling, so it’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy, as Bromley has some of the lowest levels of provision of protected cycle tracks and the lowest rates of cycling. Looking at speed limits, Slide 10 shows TfL’s speed map from January 2022, with every street in London identified by the speed limit and 20mph speed limits in green. Bromley has the joint-lowest level in London, equal with Barnet, with 20mph limits on only 5% of its roads. Most of inner London and also a number of outer boroughs have adopted 20mph speed limits, such as Croydon, Waltham Forest, Hounslow, Ealing, Richmond and Kingston.

What do we need to do to start to bring walking and cycling to be more attractive and safer in Bromley? Speed is important – slower speeds are the building blocks now of fairer cities (Slide 11). Reducing the maximum vehicle speed to 20mph in built-up areas is linked with a 42% reduction in all road casualties, according to a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In built-up areas, 20mph limits are the building blocks for streets that put people first. They are linked to lower casualties, more walking and cycling, and lower air pollution and noise pollution. In terms of safe space for cycling, the key element is protected cycle lanes on main roads (Slide 12). To use a local example, Slide 13 shows the TfL route to the east of Bromley Town Centre, where improvements are needed. We see that there is a lack of crossing facilities, and this issue of severance. The photo is taken in the daytime, summer 2021, and there are no people there even though it’s close to the town centre. It’s not surprising, given the lack of any provision for cycling, and the danger and intimidation of high speeds and free-flowing traffic.

I wanted to give an example from Bromley of how things can change for the better. Slide 14 shows an image of Beckenham High Street in August 2015. You can see the condition – three lanes of road, the condition of the road is poor, it still needs a guard rail and there are not many people around. Fast forward to a street view from 2021 (Slide 15), you can see the wider pavements, the restaurant on the left is putting out seats. Presumably this was taken during a lockdown so it’s slightly devoid of life, but again, it is a much more attractive environment for people to be walking and spending time there.

Slide 16 shows that we have, from our spreadsheet, 6-7 locations in Bromley where there is an absence of pedestrian crossing facilities at junctions. One of the most notable is the War Memorial in Chislehurst where there are no pedestrian crossing facilities at all. Slide 17 shows there is obviously a lot of demand in the borough for 20mph – with petitions and campaigns, and demands for 20mph for people to slow down.

To support liveable and walkable town centres, the 15 minute city, what do we need to do and what needs to change in Bromley? Here are some suggestions:

Bromley Living Streets Webinar – Introducing ’15 Minute Cities'”

Blue skies over Beckenham Place Park

Bromley Living Streets is delighted to announce a webinar introducing the concept of “15 Minute Cities” as a valuable tool for thinking through the future of town centres/high streets in London Borough of Bromley.

Click here to register to attend.

Three of Bromley Borough’s local town centres (Bromley, Orpington and Beckenham) are currently considering proposals for development that would significantly increase the number of flats in and around the town centre. Understandably, many residents have concerns about how this will work in practice. As a group of local volunteers campaigning for safer, quieter streets suitable for all people and all modes of travel, Bromley Living Streets are organising this webinar because we are keen to ensure residents have the information they need to respond to ongoing consultations on these redevelopments. 

In a nutshell, the concept of 15 Minute Cities helps us think about how we can make local high streets and town centres the go-to place for people to meet their everyday needs (read more here). We are delighted to announce our speakers for this webinar as Jeremy Leach and Alice Roberts.

Speakers:

Jeremy Leach is Chair of London Living Streets, which was formed in August 2016 to speak up for people on foot across London and is made up of the many local Living Streets groups across the capital. The group has focused on reducing danger on the roads for people who are walking, cutting the time that people have to wait before they can cross the road and mapping great walking routes across London. London Living Streets believes strongly that high streets and town centres should be great places to walk and should be and feel safe for everyone.

Alice Roberts is Head of Campaigns at CPRE London, which she joined in 2015, having worked at the Local Government Association, Campaign for Better Transport, Defra, the National Lottery and the European Commission. She has campaigned on parks, street scene, planning, transport, waste and recycling issues. Alice lives in Hackney where she keeps a parklet and enjoys guerrilla gardening. She tweets as @ClaptonAlice.

15-Minute Intro to 15-Minute Cities

Inspired by an image attached to this article: https://www.architonic.com/en/story/archdaily-15-minute-city/20173719

So, you want…

  • To reduce obesity and diabetes by 20%?
  • Lower carbon emissions and air pollution where you live?
  • Safe and convenient access to the amenities you need each day?
  • Your children to feel safe walking or cycling to school?

Take a look at “15 Minute Cities”

Popularised recently by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Carlos Moreno, a driving force behind the Paris city plan, there are manifestations of the 15 Minute City around the world: 

  • ‘ciudad a escala humana’ (‘human-scale city’, Buenos Aires),
  • ‘complete neighbourhoods’ (Portland, Oregon), 
  • ‘Barrios Vitales’ (’vital neighbourhoods’, Bogotá), 
  • ’20-minute neighbourhoods’ (Melbourne), 
  • ‘superblock’ (Barcelona), 
  • and more.

The core principles include:

  • Ensure easy access to basic amenities including groceries, fresh food and healthcare in every neighbourhood.
  • Build a multicultural neighbourhood that includes different housing types and levels of affordability, with the convenience for everyone of living close to the workplace.
  • Have abundant green spaces to ensure access for everyone to the natural environment and clean fresh air.
  • Establish smaller-scale offices, and retail, hospitality and co-working spaces, so that more people can work closer to home or in a virtual set-up.
  • Create walking and cycling corridors to facilitate ‘soft’ transportation and reduce the convenience of travelling by car. 

As demonstrated in many towns and cities around the world, embracing these principles creates an environment where people naturally choose walking and cycling for short journeys.

There is great potential for this to happen here too. In Britain, 20% of journeys by car are under 1 mile, a distance easily walked in 15 minutes, or cycled in 5 minutes. 38% are under 2 miles, a distance easily cycled in around 10 minutes. Enabling some or most of these journeys to be walked or cycled instead will of course greatly reduce traffic volumes, and realise the many health and environmental benefits that come from quieter, safer streets.

Interested in knowing more..?

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2309343-pedestrian-friendly-cities-have-lower-rates-of-diabetes-and-obesity/

https://www.arup.com/perspectives/the-fifteen-minute-vision-future-proofing-our-cities

https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/public-sector/articles/urban-future-with-a-purpose/15-minute-city.html

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-01-05/a-tiny-twist-on-street-design-the-one-minute-city

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2309343-pedestrian-friendly-cities-have-lower-rates-of-diabetes-and-obesity/

https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/research/all-themes/all/key-walking-and-cycling-statistics-for-the-uk

https://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/wiki/cycling-is-not-practical-for-the-transportation-or-commuting-needs-of-most-people#:~:text=A%20significant%20percentage%20of%20these,made%20by%20car%20or%20van.

Close your street this June for a Platinum Jubilee Street Party!

What are streets for? It has become the norm that motor vehicles get priority on our streets and roads, but this June there is a unique chance to reclaim your local street as a place to build community, celebrate and allow children to play safely.

In recognition that Her Majesty the Queen will become the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee in June 2022, Bromley Council are waiving road closure fees (£564) for street parties planned between 2-5 June 2022. Planning is underway for Platinum Jubilee Street Parties all over Bromley, and whether you are a royalist or not, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is a great opportunity to reclaim your street and get to know your neighbours better.

Source: The Travel Bunny

What should a street party look like? That is completely up to you, but it typically includes a celebratory meal, music, and games. Talk to your neighbours to find out what they would be interested in, and how they could contribute to the party. Playing Out, a resident-led movement that aims to make streets safer for children to play in, has a lot of ideas on how to use street space in new ways.

You can submit your application here, the deadline is Thursday 10 March: https://www.bromley.gov.uk/info/545/traffic_management/273/street_parties_and_public_events

The list below has links to resources about the Platinum Jubilee and how to organise a street party:

UK Government: The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee 2022
Royal Family: The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Central Weekend 2022
Government guide to organising a street party
The Street Party Site
Big Jubilee Lunch (Eden Project Communities)
London Play
Playing Out
London Car Free Day

Last Environment Committee meeting before the local elections!

Photo taken on Farnaby Road, Shortlands

Can you spare 5 minutes today to send a question to Bromley Council Environment Committee? Questions need to be submitted by 5pm on 7 March to be accepted for the committee meeting on 21 March – full details of how to submit questions can be found here, and information about the meeting can be found here

We in Bromley Living Streets think that asking questions to the Environment Committee is a very valuable way to let the Council know what matters to local people – particularly important to do, given that local elections are taking place on 5 May 2022. Environment Committee meetings are the place where Bromley Council’s projects and policies are scrutinised, and members of the public raising issues in this forum is an important part of local democracy and a key way of encouraging local councillors to take action. There are reasons to think that this part of Bromley’s local democracy is looking increasingly healthy and vigorous: 100 written public questions were answered in the November 2021 Environment meeting, and 68 written public questions were answered in the January 2022 Environment meeting. (Important context here is that a large proportion of those submitted to the November 2021 were on a single issue.)

So what should you ask questions about? That’s up to you, but we think a particularly useful starting point for drafting a question is to look at the Council’s response to questions asked in recent Environment committee meetings, and think about what new questions are raised by the Council’s response. some ideas you might want to consider. For example, in the ‘Written Questions from the Public’ document for the Environment meeting on 19 January 2022, the Council’s response to the first question provides detailed figures on the School Travel Plan (STARS) scheme and Bikeability training, but does not provide figures for the increase in walking and cycling during the period between 2020 and 2021. A useful follow-up question would be to ask for these figures, particularly given that recent data indicates that 32% of the borough’s emissions come from transport, which is relatively high for a London borough. (Another useful follow-up question would be to ask for evidence to support the Council’s claim that the increase in walking and cycling between 2020 and 2021 “was influenced by LBB’s Road Safety Education programme, School Travel Planning Initiatives and Cycle training”.)

Feel free to Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) us into your email when you submit your questions, or forward your submitted questions to us after sending them to committee.services@bromley.gov.uk, so that we are aware of the issues that have been raised.

Campaigning events this week (11 weeks until local elections!)

Tree on car. Photo taken on Bromley Road on 18 February 2022.

As Storm Eunice rages around us, here are some events happening this week which can help you consider how active travel (and related environmental and climate issues) could and should be an area of focus in the local elections on 5 May:

  1. Climate Emergency UK are running two sessions explaining how to use the Council Climate Plan Scorecards they launched at the end of January. One session is on Tuesday 22 February 12-1pm, the other is Thursday 24 February 6-7pm (register here). 
  2. Mums for Lungs are running a webinar on School Streets on Thursday 24 February at 8pm (register here): this is a chance to find out more about School Streets and how to campaign for one, which is well worth doing, not least because Bromley has very few school streets compared to many other London boroughs.
  3. Playing Out are running a webinar on the impact of play streets on active travel, with Chris Boardman as a special guest, on Wednesday 23 February at 2pm (register here). This topic is particularly timely in London Borough of Bromley, as the Portfolio Holder for the Environment (Cllr Huntington-Thresher) recently replied to a question from a resident with the statement that Bromley Council “does not support the concept of Play Streets as such” (response to question 3, here).
  4. If you’re thinking “I’m busy next week but I wonder if there’s anything interesting happening the week after that?” then you might want to consider attending the Council meeting on Monday 28 February (details here), where agenda item 4 includes three petitions relevant to active travel, on (1) Orpington Town Centre, (2) Road Safety at Chislehurst War Memorial Junction, and (3) Climate Emergency.
  5. Finally…if attending virtual meetings doesn’t do it for you, you might want to check out https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/localgroupresources for useful templates, guides, ideas and resources for campaigning.

Stay safe!

New Year, New Environment Committee Meeting!

Happy New Year! Can you spare 5 minutes today to send a question to Bromley Council Environment Committee? There’s no time to lose: questions need to be submitted by 5pm on 5 January to be accepted for the committee meeting on 19 January – full details of how to submit questions can be found here, and information about the meeting can be found here

Bromley Council’s Environment and Community Services PDS Committee examines executive decisions and reviews policy on transport (highways development, traffic, road safety and parking), street services, waste and recycling and parks and open spaces. We in Bromley Living Streets think that asking questions to the Environment Committee is a very valuable way to let the Council know what matters to local people – particularly important to do now, given that local elections are taking place on 5 May 2022. Environment Committee meetings are the place where Bromley Council’s projects and policies are scrutinised, and members of the public raising issues in this forum is an important part of local democracy and a key way of encouraging local councillors to take action.

So what should you ask questions about? That’s up to you, but we have some ideas you might want to consider. Below we present some ideas for questions relating to active travel and safe streets across the borough, including pedestrian crossings, air pollution, school streets, speed limits, Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) statistics and COP26. We also encourage you to look at the Council’s Environment Matters newsletter (available here) and take this opportunity to ask the Council for clarification or evidence on the topics and claims contained in the newsletter.

Feel free to Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) us into your email when you submit your questions, or forward your submitted questions to us after sending them to committee.services@bromley.gov.uk, so that we are aware of the issues that have been raised.

Potential topics and questions:

Pedestrian crossings

  1. Bromley’s Air Quality Action Plan was approved at the November 2021 Environment Committee meeting. On the final page of Appendix A, under “Reducing emissions from transport”, it is stated that a target for the number of new pedestrian crossings will be established – when, and based on what evidence?

Air pollution

  1. Bromley’s Air Quality Action Plan (approved in November 2021) claims no schools in Bromley are exposed to NO2 concentrations that exceed annual limits (page 8). Maps available on the London Air website suggest otherwise. Please set out all the evidence, with references where appropriate, upon which this claim is made.

School Streets

  1. In July 2021, 500+ School Streets were in place across LondonBromley Council’s website states the borough has 4, but it’s now 3. Given demand from Bromley parents, and evidence of health benefits, road danger reduction, and improved independent mobility for children, will the Council commit to more trials now?
  2. What would be the cost of one ANPR vehicle to provide enforcement of Bromley School Streets, for one hour at start and finish of the school day for the entire Spring term, and could this cost be covered by the money Bromley Council received from TfL to provide School Streets?
  3. The Portfolio Holder has previously stated the three schools on Hawksbrook Lane “were very keen” to have a School Street, but this has not been installed due to “the potential number of vehicle movements which still could occur”.  Please provide the evidence base that informed this decision.

Speed limits

  1. In response to previous questions, the Portfolio Holder stated the borough’s experience is that drivers who ignore 30mph limits ignore lower speed limits, and drivers are much more likely to change behaviour where reduced speeds are advised near a clear hazard or justification. Please provide evidence to support this.
  2. In a Council meeting on 6 December 2021, Councillor Tickner described 20mph speed limits as “socialist”. Does the Portfolio Holder agree with this characterisation?

Net carbon zero target

  1. The ‘COP26 Special Edition’ of Environment Matters states that “Bromley has always been London’s greenest borough and we have one of the most ambitious net carbon zero targets in the Capital.” Please set out all the evidence, with references where appropriate, upon which this claim is made.

Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) statistics

  1. The latest edition of Environment Matters states the 28% reduction in Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) casualties in 2020 is “perhaps partly explained” by “lockdown”. Would the Portfolio Holder agree that it is very likely that the 19% reduction in vehicle miles travelled in the borough is a factor? (19% figure calculated using DfT statistics from 2019 and 2020, available here)

Please do get in touch with any questions, suggestions, feedback, or if you’d like us to put you in touch with other Bromley Living Streets members living in your neighbourhood.

Best wishes for the New Year from Bromley Living Streets

Graffiti on a tree in Church House Gardens, Bromley. Photo by Brendan.