Two thirds of car journeys could be walked, cycled or scooted in 20 mins, says active travel chief

Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, made the comment onThe News Agents podcast.

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Two thirds of car journeys in London could be walked, cycled or scooted in less than 20 minutes, London’s walking and cycling commissioner has said.

Will Norman made the comment on the podcast The News Agents, hosted by Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall. He spoke about alternatives to the car for short journeys in the capital, including the role e-scooters could play.

Mr Norman said: “More than two thirds of all car journeys in London could be walked, cycled or scooted in under 20 minutes. Now, that’s not me saying all of them should be, if you’re disabled or if you’re going to, I don’t know, B&Q and picking up some patio flagstones, a car would be a better bet for that.

“But a lot of those journeys could be made by other alternatives.”

Mr Norman goes on to advocate for the use of e-scooters in London, “as long as they’re well-managed and it’s done properly”.

The potential benefits to businesses if active travel rates increase were also discussed, after concerns were raised by Mr Sopel about a potential hit to a restaurant near his home due to the removal of parking spaces.

Mr Norman responded by saying: “We look at modes of transport and health etc, but also on businesses. You’re right, this is really important. And the studies that we’ve done in London show that where you’ve got areas that are more walkable, more cyclable, you’ve had a 40% increase in footfall in shops and on trade.”

This, he adds, is due to a rise in people “dropping in”, which Mr Norman argues is far more likely if someone is walking or cycling than in their car.

Healthy streets schemes in London

Responses to healthy streets schemes such as low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTN) have varied across London.

While research in 2021 by Redfield & Wilton Strategies indicated 47% of residents in the capital supported the introduction of LTNs, with just 16% against, there has been some strong opposition against their roll-out.

In Tower Hamlets, mayor Lutfur Rahman, who was elected last year, is looking to remove LTNs across the borough.

The borough had the majority of its Local Implementation Plan (LIP) funding put on-hold by Transport for London (TfL) - money which is distributed among councils to help improve the health and safety of the capital’s streets.

TfL said Tower Hamlets’ funding would remain paused while it works to “better understand their policy on creating schemes that encourage people to use public transport, walk and cycle and reduce private vehicle use”.