- The Deputy Mayor for Transport, Heidi Alexander, opens new public spaces, crossings and cycle routes as part of Waltham Forest’s award-winning Enjoy Waltham Forest scheme
- New eight-kilometre Cycleway makes it easier than ever to Enjoy Waltham Forest
- The £30 million transformation is part of the Mayor’s £2.3bn investment in creating Healthy Streets across the capital
- The improvements result in record walking and cycling numbers, reduced road danger and air pollution and improved bus journeys
The Deputy Mayor for Transport, Heidi Alexander, and Transport for London (TfL) joined Waltham Forest Council and the City of London Corporation to officially open a major part of the multimillion transformation of Waltham Forest.
The Enjoy Waltham Forest programme is part of the Mayor’s £2.3bn investment in creating Healthy Streets across the capital. TfL awarded Waltham Forest £30 million in 2014 through the Mini Holland programme, which provided three boroughs - Waltham Forest, Enfield and Kingston - with funds to reduce car use and turn local areas into safer, greener and healthier places for Londoners to live.
The intimidating, busy and outdated Whipps Cross roundabout has been transformed with a new public space, pedestrian crossings, segregated cycle lanes and dedicated bus lanes. The land was originally part of Epping Forest, which is owned and managed by the City of London Corporation, before it became a traffic-dominated roundabout and road junction following its dedication as a highway in June 1939. This new 21st Century road layout has enabled 1,800 square metres of former road space to be returned to the protection of Epping Forest and is sown with Epping Forest-harvested seed and other wild-flowers, to become a flower-rich meadow for pollinating insects.
Waltham Forest Council has also completed an eight-kilometre segregated cycle route along Lea Bridge Road (Cycleway 23), TfL’s new brand for cycling routes. Cycleway 23 runs from the Waltham Forest boundary with Hackney to Whipps Cross, four kilometres in each direction, and is fully protected along the entire route. The new Cycleway is already proving very popular locally, with a 120 per cent increase in cycling trips on the route from July 2016 to July 2019.
In the coming months, the segregated Cycleway will be extended even further from Whipps Cross up Woodford New Road towards Redbridge, with work due to begin before Christmas.
Walthamstow Gyratory has also been transformed. A bridge over the railway was constructed which allowed the creation of a new public space, improved access to the bus station and segregated cycle lanes leading up to the junction with Selborne Road. One of the two secure cycle parking hubs at Walthamstow station has also been extended from 80 spaces to 160 spaces with a real-time space availability display outside.
Other improvements along the Lea Bridge Road Cycleway include people walking given priority at 52 crossings with residential side roads, nine new pedestrian- and cyclist-controlled crossings, seven new and improved signalised junctions, a new pocket park at Whitney Road and 194 trees, which are currently being planted. Buses travelling along the route have also seen improved journeys, including a more comfortable waiting environment for passengers at Whipps Cross, away from the main carriageway and exposed to less air pollution from passing vehicles.
The expansion of London’s walking and cycling network continues to enable millions more journeys to be cycled or made on foot every week. In Waltham Forest the improvements have resulted in an increase in cycle usage of 103 per cent and a reduction in car usage of seven per cent. The changes have also led to a significant improvement in air quality, with an independent study by King’s College London finding that five-year-olds in the borough have gained six weeks of life expectancy thanks to reductions in air pollution since 2013.
Heidi Alexander, London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: “It is essential that we get more Londoners walking and cycling as part of their everyday routine, and overhauling our roads to make them safer is a key part of this. I’m delighted that the transformation across Waltham Forest is already having a big impact – reducing car use, increasing walking and cycling, and improving air quality and life expectancy. Our Liveable Neighbourhoods scheme is enabling boroughs across the capital to build on this success, by offering grants of up to £10m.”
Cllr Clyde Loakes, Waltham Forest Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “Our vision for the borough all along has been to create a place where pedestrians and cyclists are prioritised and can feel safe using the roads whether they are aged 8 or 80. The completion of the Lea Bridge Road ‘A Street for Everyone’ Scheme takes us a step closer to achieving that goal and to be able to return a huge piece of former road space back to Epping Forest as part of these works is a massive and important bonus for us all - we look forward to seeing the wildflower meadow we are sowing with the City Corporation flourish next spring.
“The Enjoy Waltham Forest programme has had a massive impact on a number of factors; increasing the life expectancy of our children, significantly decreasing our carbon emissions, getting more people walking and cycling, and making the borough a safer and more sustainable place to live and work. We’re proud of not only the council but the entire community’s efforts to strive to be cleaner and greener, as we grapple with the dire consequences of the Climate Emergency that we are living through.”
Gareth Powell, Managing Director of Surface Transport for TfL, said: “It is fantastic to see the transformation of Waltham Forest to place where people feel safe to walk, cycle and play almost complete. Our funding for the Enjoy Waltham Forest scheme is part of our commitment to create healthy streets across London, and it’s great to see the benefits already for reducing air pollution and road danger and encouraging more people to walk and cycle.”
Graeme Doshi-Smith, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee said: “We are thrilled to see the return of Forest Land as a result of these improvements. Epping Forest plays a crucial role for Londoners, providing millions of people with access to open spaces, nature, and sport facilities for health, wellbeing and enjoyment. We hope that the enhancements across the borough will bring even more opportunities for residents to explore and enjoy this ancient woodland.”
Simon Munk, Infrastructure Campaigner at London Cycling Campaign, said: “The completion of the incredible redesign of Lea Bridge Road to really provide for people walking and cycling shows what an outer London borough can do with political will and some funding. It also adds significantly to the mileage of protected space for cycling on main roads that the Mayor has pledged to triple in his first term. This high-quality scheme, part of the borough’s award-winning Enjoy Waltham Forest programme, has already been ridden by visiting dignitaries from as far as Japan, Bogota and Copenhagen, as well as by government ministers. Alongside the rest of the Enjoy Waltham Forest programme, including low-traffic neighbourhoods and main road cycle tracks, it demonstrates what LCC campaigned for and won here, and is continuing to campaign for across London.”
The Enjoy Waltham Forest programme continues with cycling routes along Markhouse Road and Temple Mills Lane, a transformation of the Blackhorse Junction, and new cycle parking at Blackhorse Road station to be completed over the next year along with the Coppermill Area Liveable Neighbourhood scheme. The Mayor awarded Waltham Forest £2.5 million to support the development of the St James Street and Blackhorse Road areas and will improve access routes to Walthamstow Wetlands. The project to turn Coppermill Lane into a ‘cycle street’, with safer junctions and crossings has begun and the area will be improved with new wayfinding and planting.
TfL is also working on proposals for a new Cycleway between Lea Bridge and Dalston, which would transform streets and make it safer and easier to get around on foot and by bike between Waltham Forest and Hackney. This proposed route would connect with Cycleway 23 opening up new journeys in the City and Hackney. Consultation on the second stage of the proposed route, between Clapton and Lea Bridge has just opened and includes fully segregated cycle tracks around Lea Bridge Roundabout, Kenninghall Road and Lea Bridge Road.
To find more information about Enjoy Waltham Forest, go to enjoywalthamforest.co.uk