Bold actions continue to reduce the dominance of cars and improve air quality

20 June 2019
Leytonstone Street Fest

Returning roads to residents and reducing the reliance on cars to improve air quality and residents’ health is a top priority for Waltham Forest Council, which is why the council is using today, Clean Air Day, to announce plans to close Hoe Street for a day to motor traffic.

Instead of vans, motorbikes and buses chugging through Hoe Street, the road between Selborne Road and Hatherley Road, will be lined with market stalls run by local businesses and creators, activities will be put on for all ages to enjoy and live street performances will take place. The plans support the ambitions of World Car Free Day events, which in London will see more than 20km of roads closed to motor vehicles on Sunday 22 September. It’s expected that the event will be a boost to the local economy and build on the previous successes of the recent Welcome to The Forest event and the annual Leytonstone Car Free Day Festival.

The council also wants more local residents to arrange Street Parties, Play Streets and even Jumble Trails on the day in residential streets across the borough, building on those regular events which already take place. As an added incentive the council will be offering some basic play equipment to help make your party, play street or trail a great success.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “We have seen already how removing cars from our roads can help stimulate and enhance greater community interaction - helping to achieve improved health and wellbeing, create opportunities for informal play, as well as attracting thousands of people to events like the London Borough of Culture launch event, Welcome to The Forest, in January.

“They also really support our local high streets and shopping parades. The success of the Enjoy Waltham Forest programme has shown where we have introduced two part-time road closures in Orford Road, Walthamstow, and Francis Road, Leyton, these streets are now bustling and shop fronts are now occupied, where previously the parades' viability as a shopping area were challenged. It goes to show that road closures do much more than improving road safety and reducing congestion, they help to improve air quality, support the local economy and encourage healthier, more active lifestyles among our residents.”

The following weekend Leytonstone Loves Film, presented by the Barbican as part of Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019, will take place across Leytonstone as an extension to the annual Leytonstone Car Free Day Festival. As a site of early film production and the celebrated birthplace of Hitchcock, Leytonstone has a rich cinema history. Leytonstone Loves Film will be a free weekend-long event featuring screenings of local and international work, film-inspired workshops and activities, music, talks and installations in cafés, pubs and pop-up venues.

These events continue to build on the work the council has been doing throughout the year to improve air quality and encourage residents to walk, cycle and scoot more local journeys which have been recognised as good practice by industry experts. Last year a report by King’s College London found that the air quality improvements made through the Enjoy Waltham Forest programme had significantly contributed to extending the life expectancy of children born in Waltham Forest since 2013 by up to six weeks, and the additional health benefits of more active lifestyles also contributed to adding another six to seven weeks of life expectancy for residents. In additional new data showed that in 2007 there were more than 56,000 households in the borough exposed to more than the EU recommended amount of Nitrogen Dioxide, which had reduced by 90 per cent in 2017, to just 6,300 households.

Currently the council is a finalist in the sustainability charity’s Ashden Awards for the category Clean Air Towns and Cities, winners will be announce on Wednesday 3 July. Last week improvements to Francis Road scooped the Transport for Planning award at the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation awards.

In April the council declaring a Climate Emergency and committed to update the council’s Climate Change Strategy and establish a Climate Change Commission to inform further actions to be taken, on top of the work already taking place, including:

  • Returning 1,800 square metres of former road to Epping Forest as part of the Whipps Cross Interchange redesign
  • Carrying out anti-idling operations outside primary schools twice a month
  • Providing more than 15,500 children and adults free cycle training since April 2014
  • Building 26km of segregated cycle lanes across the borough and introducing 49 road closures through the Enjoy Waltham Forest programme, with plans to build another 5km of track in the next 12 months
  • Awarding £20,000 of Community Walking and Cycling Fund to ten groups who will support residents to walk and cycle more
  • Installing four green screens to block pollutants from entering  school grounds, with plans to install another at Willow Brook Primary School, and three others
  • Successfully establishing ZED, a low emissions courier service in the borough, after a two year trail with funding from the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund - the service now provides more than 2,000 deliveries every month
  • Funding the development of a Clean Air Hospital Framework for Whipps Cross Hospital
  • Installing almost 350 bikehangars in residential streets, with plans to install 150 more.
  • Provided 466 secure cycle parking spaces in seven station cycle hubs, with plans to provide more during the works to improve Blackhorse Road junction
  • A huge tree planting programme which has the borough as home to more than 50,000 trees, with plans to plant at least another 500 from October 2019
  • Holding an annual Mini-Tour de Waltham Forest event, which last week saw 21 primary schools participate
  • Working with primary schools across the borough on proposals to introduce school streets schemes, barring cars from accessing school roads at the beginning and end of the school day
  • Providing council staff access to electric bikes and electric pool cars to carry out journeys during the work day
  • Launching a car pooling scheme with Liftshare, to reduce the number of cars travelling to the Town Hall every day