TfL's role in promoting health in London

Date published: 
04 November 2016

Transport and how we use it can seriously affect our health and wellbeing. The capital’s transport system enables Londoners to get to work, school, hospital, friends and family. All of these journeys are essential for a healthy and fulfilling life.

The London Assembly Health Committee examined the role of Transport for London (TfL) in supporting and promoting better health and reducing health inequalities across London.

Walking and cycling in particular are important forms of physical activity, which can help prevent a range of illnesses, including heart disease, depression and type 2 diabetes.

TfL is already considering health benefits in some elements of its work by promoting healthy, non-polluting travel in London. TfL is also in the process of appointing a new Walking and Cycling Commissioner to lead this work.

However some public health experts have questioned whether TfL’s aspirations go far enough and to what extent they are being translated into practical action.

The investigation looked at the following key areas:

  • Encouraging more active travel like walking and cycling
  • Designing healthy transport spaces like streets and stations
  • Tackling health inequalities and improving access to health care services for Londoners

Key questions

  • How can TfL encourage people to choose healthier travel options like walking and cycling?
  • How should streets and stations be designed to maximise potential health benefits?
  • What are the main ways in which transport impacts on health in London?
  • What is TfL currently doing well in regards to public health?

Key recommendations

  • TfL should go further and faster in its ambitions to promote healthier transport.
  • TfL should increase the resources available to deliver its health commitments.
  • The Cycling and Walking Commissioner should champion public health across London.
  • TfL should prioritise investment decisions which reduce health inequalities.
  • TfL needs to communicate the health benefits and risks of its programmes to its customers more clearly.
  • In time, TfL should look beyond healthy streets, to include other spaces, such as stations.