With our increasingly noise and air polluted urban life, the Healthy Streets concept has gained prominence as a way to transform our cityscapes into more livable and sustainable environments, especially in central London.
Healthy streets strive to prioritise the well-being of residents, promote active transportation, and enhance the overall quality of life. Let’s consider what makes streets “healthy” and why it matters.
The Healthy Streets Scorecard
One valuable tool for assessing the healthiness of streets is the Healthy Streets Scorecard. This comprehensive ranking system, used by London boroughs, evaluates each borough in 10 key areas to determine how streets contribute to residents’ physical and mental well-being.
In 2023, Islington was named the borough with the healthiest streets for the third year running. Its continuation of successful schemes, such as school streets and reduced speed limits, have helped the borough retain the title. You can check out how your borough faired in the Healthy Streets scorecard here.
The criteria when determining a London Borough healthy street score includes:
- Clean Air: Healthy streets prioritise clean air by reducing pollution levels. Strategies may involve promoting public transportation, encouraging cycling and walking, and implementing low-emission zones. Boroughs that have benefitted the most have incorporated schemes like school streets, low-traffic neighbourhood schemes and lower speed limits in certain areas.
- Active Travel: Encouraging active transportation options like walking and cycling is key to healthy streets. This helps reduce reliance on cars, combats congestion and promotes physical activity. The healthy street scorecard looks at the proportion of trips made by sustainable modes such as walking, cycling or public transport.
- Safety: Safe streets are vital for everyone, especially pedestrians and cyclists. Measures such as traffic calming, well-marked crossings, and reduced speed limits contribute to safer environments.
- Public Spaces: Healthy streets provide ample public spaces for relaxation and social interaction. Parks, squares, and pedestrian-friendly areas enhance the overall quality of life.
- Urban Greenery: Incorporating greenery into urban landscapes is vital. Trees, planters, and green spaces improve air quality and create aesthetically pleasing environments in otherwise built-up areas.
- Noise Reduction: Reducing noise pollution enhances residents’ mental and physical health. Strategies include better road design and noise barriers.
- Accessibility: Healthy streets are accessible to all, regardless of age or mobility. This involves creating infrastructure accommodating wheelchairs, strollers, and other mobility aids.