Reclaim your street for the Big Lunch 2024

Links Estate Jubilee Street Party, 2022.
Image: Crowdfunder.

Following the success of street parties held across Bromley to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee in 2022 and the King’s Coronation in 2023, Bromley Council is waiving road closure fees for those applying to hold a street party in support of the Big Lunch on June 1 or 2, 2024.

What is the Big Lunch?
From the website: The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours and communities, with millions of people coming together for a few hours of food, friendship, and fun. It connects people and encourages friendlier, safer communities where people start to share more – conversations, ideas, skills, resources and friendship.

Find guidance on how to organise a street party here: Big Lunch resources.

How can I apply? Once you have formed a group of neighbours willing to organise and participate in the party, you can apply online here: Street parties and public events. Party organisers are responsible for informing neighbours and managing vehicle access points.

What are the deadlines? Applications must be submitted by March 4, 2024.

Kidical Mass Bromley – next ride Sunday 29 October

Join us on the next Kidical Mass bike ride in Bromley on 29 October! Meet 11am at Bromley South Station, or 10am for the feeder ride from Beckenham Green.

Part of the global Kidical Mass movement, Kidical Mass Bromley is a group of local residents who run family-friendly cycle rides and call for safe streets for everyone. Bromley Living Streets is one of the local organisations supporting Kidical Mass Bromley. We hope these ride will highlight the urgent need for safer, cleaner, and healthier streets for everyone.

Johanna Johansson, founding member of Kidical Mass Bromley and one of the organisers of the first ride on 30 October 2022 said: “Bicycles are the main means of transport for our family of three. We rarely see other families on cycles locally. I hope this ride will bring cycling families together and encourage more to cycle.”

RideLondon Bromley feeder ride

It looks to be a spectacular Bank Holiday Weekend, weatherwise. Here are 3 reasons you should consider spending tomorrow (Sunday) doing RideLondon 2023.

In our opinion, the number one reason to do the ride is so you know a safe, quiet route from Bromley into London. The Bromley feeder ride starts at Bromley South train station at 8.30am. The Bromley feeder ride includes cyclists of all abilities.

The second reason to do it is because it’s an opportunity to see your city and cycling in a completely different way. Experiencing our streets as they could be if they weren’t dominated by cars, and seeing that cyclists really do come in all shapes and sizes and are ordinary people. This last point is important given the media stereotypes of cyclists as MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra). People who cycle are normal people getting from A to B. That’s what the RideLondon FreeCycle is all about.

We’re a campaign group so our third reason is focused on our goals, which you can read about at Last week Bromley came at the bottom of London Cycling Campaign’s Climate Safe Streets report. Bromley Council is simply not delivering schemes to decarbonise streets. Read the report and then join us and other Bromley residents in trying to turn things around. Getting in the saddle tomorrow could be your first step in making our borough a better place to live for now and for the future.

One last thing. The Bromley feeder ride organisers would love to hear from you if you could consider volunteering as a marshall for their ride. Get in touch with us at bromleygroup AT if you’re interested. Do it for the kids.

16 Bromley schools are doing the Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel 2023! Is yours?

Alexis O’Toole from Who The Hell Knows Anymore, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you have one or more children at school? If the answer is yes, ask your child/ren’s teachers to register their school now for Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel, the UK’s biggest inter-school walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling to school competition.

Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel inspires pupils to make active journeys to school, to improve air quality in their neighbourhood and discover how these changes benefit their world. What’s not to like?

So far, 16 Bromley schools have signed up to participate in the Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel 2023. There are more than 100 schools in the Borough. Help us increase the number of schools participating today!

Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel 2023 runs from 20 til 31 March.

Kidical Mass Bromley

Kamyar Adl, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Join us on the next Kidical Mass bike ride in Bromley on 26 March! Meet 11am at Bromley South Station!

Part of the global Kidical Mass movement, Kidical Mass Bromley is a group of local residents who run family-friendly cycle rides and call for safe streets for everyone. Bromley Living Streets is one of the local organisations supporting Kidical Mass Bromley. We hope these ride will highlight the urgent need for safer, cleaner, and healthier streets for everyone.

Johanna Johansson, founding member of Kidical Mass Bromley and one of the organisers of the first ride (on 30 October 2022) said: “Bicycles are the main means of transport for our family of three. We rarely see other families on cycles locally. I hope this ride will bring cycling families together and encourage more to cycle.”

UK Parklets Day

Imagine if not all parking spaces were for cars?

Today is UK Parklets Day, and so we want to invite you to take 5 minutes to contribute a potential parklet location to Possible (a UK climate charity), write to your councillor to show your support for parklets, and then design a parklet to put there. At the moment, Possible’s map has very few locations marked in London Borough of Bromley. Let’s change that now. You can do it here: 

What is a parklet? In a nutshell: a parklet is a car parking space that could be transformed into something for people to enjoy, to improve access to green space and give streets back to people and nature. Ned Boulting (a British sports journalist and television presenter best known for his coverage of football, cycling and darts) tweeted about parklets on Friday, noting that if you want to park a car on a street in London you pay on average just over £3 a week, but if you want to repurpose a parking space to serve the community in another way you will pay a hundred times that much (on average) to your local council. Ned notes that this tells you something about our priorities as a society. Parklets are a campaign tool and action gaining increasing currency as a way to challenge those priorities. 

According to the UK Parklets Campaign, the parklet was born in 2005, the brainchild of Park(ing) Day, a public participatory art project in San Francisco. In London, Brenda Puech has been leading the parklet movement for several years. Now London Living Streets wants to establish a protocol allowing residents to apply for a ‘parklet permit’.

Go on, drop a pin on the map and email your councillor, and tell your friends to do the same. It will take 5 minutes. Let us know when you’ve done it.

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.


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.

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:

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

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 for useful templates, guides, ideas and resources for campaigning.

Stay safe!