Meeting on active travel in English cities
Leicester – Cllr Adam Clarke
Leicester population c370,000
25% of our carbon emissions come from transport
25% of all car journeys are under 2km and the average trip is only 5km – Roughly 30% of vehicle emissions are from journeys less than 5 miles long. i.e cyclable and walkable.
80% of NO2 in Leicester is produced by road transport, and half of residents are concerned about air quality.
Leicester is one of the fastest growing cities in the country – a 13% increase in population between 2016 and 2036 is estimated.
Over 100,000 residents live within a 10 minute cycle ride radius of the city centre.
The vision for transport in Leicester is for a carbon neutral, growing, healthy, accessible and connected city, with the cleanest possible air.
Our vision seeks to support a high quality of life through high-quality travel experiences to help us get to net zero, to accommodate growth and to improve health outcomes
To achieve this we need funding mechanisms aimed at creating what the Americans call Transport Equity – we need to rebalance how people move around cities in favour of healthier, more sustainable and more affordable modes.
We would be able to act more effectively with greater fiscal independence – as is seen in America and Europe.
We believe cars should only be for necessary trips and active transport, cycling and walking needs to be the first choice for shorter journeys for most people – it’s not a nice to do.
Re-creating the city to maximise public and active transport, is as beneficial for those that need to use a private car as it is to those using more sustainable modes.
Our transport policies are developed through the prism of the climate emergency recognising the co-benefits climate action brings Such as tackling congestion.
Congestion is a ‘drag’ on our local economy. Even if we wanted to, in Leicester there is very limited ability to extend the road network, I am in agreement with Campaign for Better Transport and other research that has shows that increasing road capacity provides supply generating its own demand. And this creates more congestion and more cost, mor ecarbon emissions and more damage to our health.
We can improving Health through active travel
Life expectancy in Leicester is lower than the England average with a gap between more deprived and more affluent communities. A lack of physical exercise is one of the major factors that contribute to health inequalities, and persuading people to cycle and walk more can help significantly.
So what do we want to do:
Build on the successful pedestrianisation of the city centre – the largest of its type that allows cyclists in the country
We are building on the Connecting Leicester programme initiated by the mayor when he was first elected in 2011 – which has been followed by our Transforming Cities Fund programme enabling us to start to move from the hub that is the city centre and developing the spokes that are the commuter corridors.
We want to accelerate cycling and walking improvements following the good examples delivered through our COVID-19 Transport Recovery Plan – we delivered the first pop-up cycle lane and eleven miles of pop-up cycling and walking infrastructure in ten weeks.
We want to accelerate work to remove traffic from neighbourhoods and reduce speed in neighbourhoods building on low traffic neighbourhoods delivered in the 80s, three experimental schemes currently on the ground and our 20mph zone role out now covering great swathes of the city.
We want to continue to improve cycle parking in neighbourhoods and in the city centre.
We have embraced Mayor Hildago’s Fifteen Minute City concept to pump prime healthier neighbourhoods, aiming for all local services to be available by cycling and walking for most people with connected cycling and walking networks between the city centre and across our neighbourhoods
And we want to continue to work alongside Sustrans, bikeability and living streets to deliver behaviour change through education and smart tech opportunities (Betterpoints and CHYM app) to build confidence, a propensity to cycle. We would also like to grow Santander Cycles Leicester – our increasingly popular electric bikeshare scheme.
Cities like Leicester are crucial to the innovation that’s required to meet the challenges cycling and walking can address. One of our huge challenges is space, as a compact city that has an abundance of street trees and underground services – we don’t have the luxury of space so we have to innovate.
Our decision making processes are directed through LTN 1/20 and the city’s Street Design Guide, which adopts healthy streets methodology and gives clarity about the purpose of streets through a street typology of nine types of streets in Leicester although I was quite taken by a typology of two kinds of streets that I picked up on a recent learning visit to Netherlands with Sustrans -there are flow streets – that are there just to tale people from one place to another and there are stay streets – that have a value beyond being a conduit to somewhere else – they are somewhere. I want Leicester to have and Leicester needs more ‘stay streets’!