Health effects of air pollution Children's health and food

Testing ways to make Healthy Streets in Southwark

We’re piloting measures to make our streets easier and safer for local residents to walk, cycle and spend time on.

Key partnership information

Partner: Southwark Council and Lucy Saunders, Director at Healthy Streets

Funding amount: £250,000

Duration: December 2020 – May 2021

Programme: health effects of air pollution and children’s health and food

What we’re doing together

Working in partnership with Southwark Council’s Public Health, Highways and Transport Policy teams and Lucy Saunders of Healthy Streets, we are piloting ways to make our streets easier and safer for local residents to walk, cycle and spend time on.

Three pilot locations have been selected in areas with high levels of childhood obesity; schools with poor air quality; high levels of social housing and a high proportion of families living on lower incomes. Each of the locations were assessed using the Healthy Streets Indicators that form the foundation of transport policy in London to identify the changes that would deliver the biggest impact for local families. 

In each location a combination of the following measures are being tested: 

  • Traffic filters
  • Temporary pavement widening
  • Improving accessibility by adding dropped kerbs 
  • Improving crossing points
  • Adding seating and planting
  • Improving cycling access into the neighbourhood
  • Removing parking spaces

By the end of the pilots we will better understand how much the streets physically changed in relation to the Healthy Streets Indicators; how people are using the streets differently; and how the flow of motorised vehicles and cycles has changed on streets inside and on the boundary of intervention areas. We will be comparing the changes in our three pilots to two control areas where no changes have been implemented. 

The three key questions we will explore, and how we will measure them are: 

  1. How much have the streets physically changed in relation to the Healthy Streets Indicators?
    As measured by: Healthy Streets Check for Designers
  2. Are people using the streets differently?
    As measured by:

    1. Automatic Traffic Counts, which measure the numbers of motorised vehicles and cycles on the road and their speeds
    2. On-street Cameras, which measure the numbers of people walking, cycling, driving and dwelling and categorise the different kinds of activities they are doing: standing, sitting, playing etc.
  3. How are traffic flows changing on adjacent streets?
    As measured by: traffic counts on adjacent streets

We are also investing in community engagement, carried out by ClearView Research, to ensure we hear from local people who do not usually engage through traditional consultation platforms. ClearView will recruit and train local community researchers to gather feedback from residents over a three month period to both improve the schemes and inform the longer-term council consultation.

Healthy Streets Southwark poster

Aims of the partnership

  • Build an evidence base on the health impacts and effectiveness of healthy street interventions.
  • Develop an evaluation methodology that can be applied to other projects testing low traffic initiatives to make streets healthier.

HealthyStreets Diagram

Connection to our strategy

We know that children having safe spaces to walk, cycle and play is important for them meeting their  daily physical activity needs. Within our air pollution programme, we are focussed on reducing exposure of those most vulnerable to the health effects of air pollution: children, people with existing long-term conditions and older people. And it is the poorest communities in our city – those who are least likely to own a car – that are most likely to be impacted by these negative consequences. 

While there is similar work to reduce traffic going on across London, none are focused on addressing the health gap between rich and poor neighbourhoods. By focusing on areas of greatest need, carrying out detailed evaluation and designing inclusive community feedback, we have the greatest chance of tackling health inequalities and building an evidence base for what can be cost-effectively delivered at a local level.

More about Healthy Streets

This project is being supported by Lucy Saunders, Director at Healthy Streets. Find out more about this evidence-based approach to creating fairer, sustainable, attractive urban spaces.

Visit Healthy Streets
Kate Langford, Programme Director for the health effects of air pollution

Have questions about our partnership with Southwark Council?

Kate Langford is the Programme Director of our health effects of air pollution programme.

Contact Kate to find out more