London set to become the world’s most walkable city

19 July 2018
  • London’s first Walking Action Plan targets an extra million walking trips a day
  • Streets will be designed, built and managed to support people walking with new infrastructure, better signposting and maps, and more pedestrian crossings
  • Walking helps connect communities, boost local businesses, improve health and wellbeing and reduce road danger, air pollution and noise

London’s first ever walking and cycling commissioner, Will Norman, has unveiled the capital’s first Walking Action Plan. It sets out how London will become a city where walking, for those that can, is the most obvious, enjoyable and attractive means of travel for all short trips.

The plan, which is supported by Public Health England (PHE), has an ambitious vision to make London the most walkable city in the world, with a million extra walking trips taking place each day by 2024*.

The Mayor of London wants to increase the proportion of people walking, cycling and taking public transport to 80 per cent of journeys by 2041, from 63 per cent now. And the Mayor is investing a record £2.2bn in streets across London to make them better for walking and cycling, and improve air quality.

Walking is an easy and affordable way for Londoners to integrate more physical activity into their daily lives. However, research shows that too many people are put off because of concerns about road danger or worries about their levels of physical fitness.

The Walking Action Plan aims to help Londoners overcome these barriers by:

  • Designing, building and managing streets for people walking, by delivering better public spaces, more walking routes and more numerous and wider pedestrian crossings
  • Ensuring that walking is prioritised in every new infrastructure scheme, through London’s first ever pedestrian design guidance and a range of other tools and analysis to support boroughs to deliver local schemes
  • Enabling thousands more children to walk to school by doubling the number of Gold accredited STARS schools which champion healthy routes to school, and by supporting timed road closures, car free days and 20mph speed limits around schools
  • Rolling out innovative new traffic signal technology that makes it safer and easier for pedestrians to cross roads, while minimising congestion
  • Creating new ‘Active Travel Hubs’ at London Underground stations, making it easier to walk as part of an onward journey

Major projects are already underway to enable more walking across London, such as Highbury Corner, where a new public space and new pedestrian crossings are being installed, and at Old Street where work will begin to transform the roundabout in 2019.

The experience of pedestrians will also be improved around Swiss Cottage with new crossings and the removal of the dangerous gyratory. And in Kingston, TfL funding is helping to deliver improved pedestrian and cycling routes between the town centre and the riverside.

Close partnership working is crucial in delivering a better walking experience across the capital, which is why TfL is supporting London’s boroughs to deliver attractive, healthy and safe streets, including the £115 million Liveable Neighbourhoods programme, with the first seven projects starting in 2018.

London’s first ever Walking Action Plan comes alongside the Mayor introducing bold and widespread measures to clean up London’s air. This includes the Mayor launching the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which puts in place minimum emission standards for vehicles, spending more than £300 million transforming London’s bus fleet, and making sure TfL no longer licences new diesel taxis from this year. The Mayor has already introduced an emissions surcharge – or ‘T-charge’, meaning vehicles must meet minimum exhaust emission standards, or drivers have to pay a daily £10 charge in addition to the Congestion Charge.

Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “Walking is a fantastic way to get around and explore London, and getting more Londoners to walk regularly is essential for the health and future prosperity of our city. Whether you’re popping to the shops or heading for the local train station, we’re investing record amounts to make walking the safest, easiest and most enjoyable way of getting around. By making it easier for Londoners to leave their cars at home and walk instead, it will tackle the air pollution crisis and reduce congestion as London’s population continues to grow. It will have a truly transformational impact on our city.”

Lilli Matson, Director of Transport Strategy at TfL, said: "Walking is good for us and a great way to discover all that London has to offer. London’s first Walking Action Plan along with our commitment to deliver Healthy Streets will encourage even more Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to make walking their first choice for short trips. This will help improve Londoners’ health, as well as air quality and traffic congestion, local businesses and the economy.”

Public transport is crucial to helping people achieve the daily recommendation of at least 10 minutes of brisk walking a day and TfL will improve signposting and maps such as Legible London to make journeys more accessible for all.

TfL will publish London’s first design guidance for walking in 2019, which will help ensure walking is at the heart of the design process for London’s streets. TfL will also bring London’s boroughs and campaign groups together for a new Walking Forum this year.  

Deputy Mayor of Hackney, Cllr Feryal Demirci, said: “We’re proud to support the launch of the first London Walking Plan at Gayhurst School, one of Hackney’s 16 gold accredited STAR schools. There’s so much to discover on foot in our fantastic city, and the new walking plan complements the work we’re doing to promote walking in Hackney, including prioritising pedestrians in our transport schemes, increasing the number of school streets, where we ban cars from outside schools during opening and closing times, and our ambition to get 70% of children walking to school by 2025.”

Accessibility can be a key barrier to walking with 65 per cent of disabled Londoners considering the conditions of the pavements to be a barrier. Alongside TfL’s existing Operation Clearway, which takes action against businesses who persistently clutter pavements, TfL will lobby the Government to make it easier to remove street clutter.

Improving streets for walking not only improves air quality and the health of Londoners, it creates conditions for businesses to thrive. A recent study commissioned for TfL compared five London high streets that had recently been improved for walking with equivalent unimproved locations. The improved high streets saw 7.5 per cent higher rental values and 17 per cent lower vacancy rates than their counterparts. People walking spend 40 per cent more money in local shops over the course of a month compared to people who drive cars.

The Walking Action Plan will help to deliver the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, which aims to ensure that 80 per cent of journeys made in London in 2041 are by foot, cycle or public transport. TfL’s £2.2bn funding for Healthy Streets supports the Mayor’s Strategy and will help make London the world’s most walkable city by ensuring streets have clean air, feel safe, are easy to cross and have places to stop and rest.

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive, Living Streets said: “Motor traffic is our biggest source of air pollution, whilst walking is the cleanest way to get around. To make London the most walkable city in world, the focus has to be on reducing motor vehicle use. An astonishing one in four cars on our roads during peak times are on the school run.  So having an ambition for the majority of primary school children to walk to school and a million extra end-to-end walking trips a day is an important spur to action.


“Creating safe and welcoming walking routes which enable more people to choose to walk will help improve our health, whilst cutting congestion and air pollution. Walking really is the healthier option.”

Dr Yvonne Doyle, London Regional Director for PHE, said: ‘‘We are delighted to be working with TfL to promote London as a great walking city. There is a lot of work going on in London to tackle obesity, and it’s vitally important for our health to remain active. Every single Londoner should be able to enjoy a healthy and happy life, and getting fitter and more active isn’t as difficult as people might think – the evidence shows that a brisk walk of just 10 minutes each day can go a long way to improving not just our physical health but also our mental health. To help adults, we have a free Active 10 app which we are encouraging all Londoners to download to help them introduce more brisk walking into their daily lives.’’


* From 6.4 million end-to-end journeys in 2018 to 7.5 million end-to-end journeys in 2024

** Increasing Gold-accredited schools from 500 to 1,000 by 2024


Notes to editors:


With London’s population expected to rise to 10.8m people by 2041, creating five million additional journeys every day, it’s vital that action is taken to avoid growing congestion, overcrowding, pollution, and ill health.


Greater London Authority research has shown that if every Londoner walked or cycled for 20 minutes a day, it would save the NHS £1.7bn in treatment costs over the next 25 years. This includes 85,000 fewer people being treated for hip fractures, 19,200 fewer people suffering from dementia, and an estimated 18,800 fewer Londoners suffering from depression. It is the ambition of the Mayor that Londoners walk or cycle for at least 20 minutes every day – currently only 34 per cent of Londoners manage to do this on any given day.



People are encouraged to download the free Active 10 app which shows how much brisk walking they are currently doing, and which provides tips and encouragement on how people can fit ten-minute bursts of brisk walking into their day. People can also find further hints and tips on the One You website:

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