Last week saw a gathering of officials and politicians from across London at the View Tube in the Olympic Park. The purpose of the conference, organized by charity Sustrans, was to discuss how to encourage more Londoners to make their everyday journeys on foot or by bike.
Matt Winfield, Sustrans’ London Greenways Manager, who helped organise the conference said, “The Olympics provide an ideal opportunity to encourage more people to walk and cycle. Sustrans is working with the Olympic Delivery Authority on eight new Olympic Greenways to help people get to the Games on foot or by bike.”
The success of the type of traffic-free routes being developed is easy to see, with Sustrans proudly announcing this week a fivefold increase in commuter journeys on the new Meath Gardens cycling and walking route in Tower Hamlets. Useage surveys have shown that just under 6000 journeys took place over a 4-day period on the route through Meath Gardens, which connects to the new Meath Bridge over Regent’s Canal- up from 1200 in spring 2009. This route is one that has been funded by a Big Lottery grant, as well as funding from Transport for London and Tower Hamlets Borough Council, LCN+, Change 4 Life and Tower Hamlets a healthy borough.
Alison Rowe, Big Lottery Fund Head of Region for London commented, “The success of the Tower Hamlets scheme shows that there is a great appetite for healthier ways of travel in the capital and we are very pleased to be working with Sustrans in making every day journeys healthier, safer and much more fun. People from across the UK voted for Sustrans to be awarded the £50 million Big Lottery grant and it’s fantastic to see the real difference this funding makes locally.”
The London Greenways report, published recently by Sustrans in conjunction with TfL, showed that these quieter traffic-free routes were seeing a boost in cycling in the Capital, especially amongst women.
Michelle Quin, Scheme Manager in Tower Hamlets for Sustrans, said, “It’s fantastic to see the bridge being so well used, and especially that the community are using the route for those every day journeys, such as getting to work or popping to the shops.
“It’s also great to see that the split between men and women using the route is practically 50:50. Traditionally, women are less likely to cycle than men, often citing the danger of cycling on roads. These dedicated traffic-free links are helping more women walk or cycle for their local journeys.”
Since the route opened, there are now around four times as many walking and cycling journeys through Meath Gardens, with Sustrans’ Annual Usage Estimate predicting near half a million journeys every year through the Gardens, linking to the Meath Bridge. The biggest increase has been in people using the route to get to work, school or the shops.