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Revealed: London’s best and worst boroughs for promoting cycling and walking

Cyclists ride Santander hire bikes in Hyde Park (PA)
Cyclists ride Santander hire bikes in Hyde Park (PA)

Hackney was on Thursday named as London’s top borough for encouraging walking and cycling to tackle climate change — while Tower Hamlets was shamed for promoting driving, despite low levels of car ownership.

A report by the London Cycling Campaign analysed progress on measures such as protected cycle lanes and safer junctions that are key to encouraging Londoners to switch from car journeys.

Hackney claimed first place for building “climate safe streets”, with Camden, Waltham Forest and Lambeth close behind, both in terms of schemes and the “modal shift” away from car travel.

But Tower Hamlets, where borough mayor Lutfur Rahman has removed a “school street” scheme and has consulted on axing low traffic neighbourhoods, was ranked as the worst in the capital.

According to the report, Tower Hamlets is the only borough to see a shift towards private car travel — despite low levels of car ownership.

Bexley, Hillingdon and Bromley — three of the boroughs fighting the proposed Ulez expansion — were also said to have done little to encourage “active travel”.

The research was carried out one year after the most recent borough council elections, and with just under a year until Londoners decide whether to re-elect Mr Khan for a third term or switch to a rival candidate.

Greenwich and Kingston were criticised for failing to deliver on pre-election pledges to boost cycling and walking.

The report also considered the progress by the Mayor and Transport for London. It said the “vision zero” pledge to eradicate road deaths by 2041 was “broadly on track”, largely because of the continued roll-out of 20mph speed limits on main roads.

But it said improvements to dangerous junctions was “slow” and Mr Khan was told to “accelerate” the roll-out of walking and cycling schemes.

Simon Munk, head of campaigns at London Cycling Campaign, said: “London must not be a postcode lottery for climate action or safe cycling and walking.

“We need a lot more boroughs delivering ‘climate safe streets’ like Hackney and Waltham Forest and fewer, like Tower Hamlets and Bromley, failing to deliver.”

Rob Whitehead, of the Centre for London thinktank, said: “This report is a vital part of keeping up the pressure on all London’s leaders to do more to make London’s streets better for walking and cycling. If they don’t, more Londoners will die or get seriously harmed on the roads.”

It came as Westminster council announced that 11 trial “school streets” – where motorists from outside the neighbourhood are fined if they drive on the road at the start and end of the school day – were being made permanent, with more schemes expected to follow.

There are more than 500 school streets across London. These discourage parents from driving their children to school and improve the air outside primaries and secondaries.

Westminster said there was a 33 per cent reduction in NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) levels outside the 11 schools during morning drop-off.

Paul Dimoldenberg, Westminster’s cabinet member for city management, said: “School Streets have been successful in reducing the number of vehicles around school at drop off and pick up times. This will have major benefits for air quality around our schools and make it safer for children to walk, cycle or scoot to school.

“Westminster City Council is absolutely committed to improving road safety and encouraging sustainable and active forms of travel.”