Sustainable transport charity Sustrans has singled out the vast potential to raise levels of cycling in London’s boroughs.
Research has revealed that half of all car journeys made in outer London boroughs are under two miles. Sustrans, together with London Councils, the London Cycling Campaign and Transport for London have published guidance to encourage the public to take to bicycles, and their own two feet, to cover the short distances in a guide called ‘Delivering the benefits of cycling in outer London’.
The guidance features a number of ways to broaden the range of people that cycle in outer London boroughs, 70 per cent of which are currently made by men under the age of 40.
A number of the short journeys targeted are school, shopping and leisure based, often made by children and women. Sustrans is already developing greenways in outer London to encourage those groups, and types of journeys, to be made via bike and foot.
The guidance – aimed at local authorities – also highlights the benefits of working closely with local schools. In the last five years Bike It has been active in 20 of London’s 33 boroughs, significantly increasing the numbers of children regularly travelling to school by bike.
“The short distances that make up such a large proportion of journeys in the outer boroughs are perfect for cycling and walking, yet levels of physical activity in outer London are currently lower than inner London,” said Carl Pittam, director of Sustrans in London. “That needs to change, which is why we have targeted local authorities in the outer boroughs with this new guidance. If we can help them encourage their residents to be more active on everyday journeys then the benefits for the local environment and the health of individuals could be significant. Not to mention the potential savings to London Primary Care Trusts, which currently spend at least £105 million each year dealing with the effects of physical inactivity.”
The guidance shares its target with the Biking Borough initiative announced by Mayor of London Boris Johnson last month.