Is your Olympics buzz petering out into a damp sizzle? Concerned about the legacy of the Games? Sick of another sweaty armpit in your face on the tube? If you answered yes to any of those questions then salvation is at hand. Mo Farah, that’s good news, I hear you cry!
Yes, the good people at Sustrans are working tirelessly to create a far reaching green London Olympics legacy. But be warned, the car is to be a thing of the past.
Who are Sustrans?
SustainableTransport – a charity that seeks to promote modes of travel that improve the environment and the health of those taking part. They’ve come a long way since they were called CycleBag!
You wouldn’t say cycling was a new trend but it has certainly enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent times, especially in London. This is in large part due to the National Cycle Network (set up by Sustrans with National Lottery Funding –a whopping £43.5 million!). Sustrans want to make sure the Olympic legacy is about more than simply people taking up sport. With improved Greenways in and around the Olympic Village, Sustrans are encouraging more short journeys to be made by anything other than the dreaded motor.
I caught up with Francesca Leadlay, Policy Advisor at Sustrans London, to learn more.
“DIY Streets is a community-led street design scheme”, she explains. “It improves urban areas by making them safer, cleaner and more people-friendly. Our first project was in East London in Hackney. Clapton Terrace suffered from a high level of speeding traffic. After redesigning the streets with local people, 86% of residents said the street is greener and more attractive and 76% thought the street pedestrian-friendly. Given the success of schemes like this in terms of quality, community liaison, costs and overall improvement of areas, we are seeking to roll this out Londonwide, and aspire to have a DIY Streets in every borough, including in Zones 1 and 2”.
Are there plans for any more artwork on the National Cycle Network?
Yes, plans are in place for more portrait benches as part of an exciting new collection of public art, in areas including Finsbury Park, Paddington and Southwark. Each bench will feature life-size portraits of local community heroes, nominated by the community.
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Ledley King (Spurs & England) with his steel sculpture, Meath Gardens, Mile End. King was nominated by the community along with Sylivia Pankhurst and a canal towpath horse. (image from http://mayorlutfurrahman.wordpress.com)</figcaption></figure>
The first electric car charging point is on our green tour. Would it be fair to say that Sustrans don’t overwhelmingly support electric cars?
People sitting in a car, however it is powered, for short journeys, are not improving their health or the quality of life of neighbourhoods. Also, investment in walking and cycling infrastructure is more cost-effective and provides value for money.
Indeed, when you think a bicycle occupies one fifth of the space taken up by a car and car occupancy in London is less than 1.5 people per vehicle, it really is time to get on your bike!