“Make London’s roads carbon-free by 2030” – LCC

New policy document urges radical change to achieve zero carbon roads

“Make London’s roads carbon-free by 2030” – LCC

The London Cycling Campaign (LCC) today launched its Climate Safe Streets report, aiming to make London's roads carbon-free by 2030, with eight priority measures for the Mayor of London and councils. The measures range widely from smart road user charging to common platforms for e-scooter and e-bike hire schemes.

Report co-author and director at transport consultant Urban Movement John Dales said that, although the report was originally timed to influence the London Mayorial election, due next month but postponed to 2021, it was still timely: policy and social responses to Covid-19 demonstrated by contrast how little action had been taken to deal with the Climate Emergency.

The webinar-based launch featured Urban Movement principal design engineer Brian Deegan and LCC Infrastructure Campaigner Simon Munk highlighting aspects of the report, many of which focused on reducing car use - including the aim to slash the number of UK private vehicles by 20,000 a week.

Fifteen per cent of London car journeys are less than 1km and 60% less than 4km, equivalent to a 15 minute bike ride. Yet Transport for London's map of priority routes for shifting mode from car didn't include shorter journeys. Half of Londoners should be within 400m of a comprehensive cycling network by 2024, and all by 2028, Munk said.

The London Plan has to change to encourage car-free development everywhere, Deegan said, rather than providing car parking where PTAL levels are low and creating a "vicious circle" that discouraged new bus networks. And he added that shared mobility modes should be encouraged. "Scooters are fun," he said, describing a US survey in Portland, Oregon, in which 35% of residents using an e-scooter said their alternative mode was a car.

Deegan observed that, during the coronavirus epidemic: “We're all getting a taste of what car-free living is like, wherever we are. It's not like we have to send people to Utrecht to get a taste of what it could be like. I'm hoping when we come out the other end [of the Covid-19 crisis] we won't want to go back and fill our streets with cars and make them hostile again. That's a real positive we could take away: we're all getting an experience of what a city should be like."

Munk added: “A whole bunch of stuff is going to change now, forever. But a lot of things will just go back, if we're not very careful. A lot of traffic will just return - we're seeing a rise in traffic levels over the last few days in London. We have to be very careful about what we return to.”

And LCC campaigns coordinator Fran Graham concluded that the quiet streets of "lock-down London" isn't what the LCC wants to see in 2030: "We want to see people moving about, going to the shops, going to work, doing their daily journeys - our vision for 2030 is very different from where we are right now," she said. "But  we are seeing behaviour change on quite a radical scale. People are pulling bikes out of their sheds and using them as a socially-distancing way of getting to their jobs or getting exercise."

The LCC wants to make sure the range of people discovering and re-discovering cycling now don't go back to cars when coronavirus fades. "Enabling everyone who has picked up a bike for the first time to keep using their bike: that's the challenge for the boroughs and the Mayor."