17 October 2018 -
Waltham Forest Council has taken home a collection of gongs from the Health Streets Awards on Friday night.
After being shortlisted for six categories the council left the industry awards ceremony in the Guildhall with three trophies for Best Healthy Street Behaviour Change Initiatives, Best Healthy Street of the Year and Best Healthy Street Photo.
The awards were recognition for the work carried out through the Enjoy Waltham Forest programme. The programme, which has been funded by Transport for London’s Mini-Holland initiative, has seen the council reprioritise the borough’s roads to encourage more walking and cycling and improve road safety in the borough. Through the scheme the council has introduced two-part time road closures, built more than 22km of segregated cycle lanes, improved 104 pedestrian crossings and introduced 43 road filters to motor vehicles.
Councillor Clyde Loakes, deputy leader and cabinet member for the environment, was a speaker at the industry conference ahead of the ceremony on Friday. Speaking about the awards he said: “It has been challenging and we have faced lots of opposition to our plans which ensure the safety of our most vulnerable road users, pedestrians and cyclists. We are now seeing the fruits of our labour as routes are completed and more and more people are taking to the streets on foot or bicycle. Our residents are now starting to enjoy the health benefits of these improvements as they leave the car at home and choose more sustainable transport options, helping to improve our air quality.”
The council’s Complementary Measures programme, which has seen more than 3,000 residents receive free cycle training over the last four years, the installation of 250 bike hangars on the borough’s streets and thousands of people take part in the annual Le Tour de Waltham Forest event in recent years, scooped the Best Healthy Streets Behaviour Change Award.
The Best Healthy Street of the Year Award was won by the council for the recent improvements made to Francis Road in Leyton. This previously congested local high street used to see more than 5,000 vehicles use the road every day, but following the introduction of a part-time closure to motor vehicles from 10am to 8pm the street has seen traffic volumes more than halve and the local economy boosted. The street has also received a new look with improved paving and planting, which has been adopted by local businesses.
Tiff Howick and Lucie Beeston of Francis Road gallery, gift and homeware store Venner also spoke at the conference. Lucie said “We chose to open our business on Francis Road a year ago and have always been supportive of the plans, we love it. There’s a great buzz and community feeling, especially at weekends, and it’s great to see that the speeding cars have been replaced with people walking and cycling and kids playing.”
Tiff added: “Since the beds have been planted with trees and shrubs the road has become a real oasis. The pedestrianisation fits perfectly with us and the way we want to run our business, and we’re pleased to see our local community and economy thriving.”
A picture of Francis Road taken in March this year also won the Best Healthy Streets Photo at the awards.
Department for Transport figures show that residents in Waltham Forest were the most active of the outer London boroughs in 2017. More than 40 per cent of adults reported that they walked five times a week, making our residents the keenest walkers in the capital behind City of London. The borough also became the best outer London borough for cycling five times a week, and the sixth highest across London – a rise from 11th the year before.
Recent modelling by the renowned Environmental Research Group at King’s College London has also found that the air quality improvements in the borough, through better vehicle technology and the road infrastructure changes, is predicted to extend residents’ predicted life expectancy by at least six weeks.