London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has high hopes to make London the most walkable city in the world. In the city of 8.8 million people, which boasts one of the world’s best urban transportation systems, Khan has announced the first ‘Walking Action Plan’ to reduce the number of cars in the British capital.
Through the Walking Action Plan strategy announced earlier this year, Khan wants to make 80 percent of all trips taken in the wider London area to be made by foot, bicycle, or public transport by 2041. By decreasing the number of trips taken by car in the city, Khan hopes to improve air quality and urban health in London.
There are approximately 2.56 million cars currently registered in the Greater London Area, which is an average of 0.3 cars for each adult or one car for 40 percent of all households in the city. Between 2005 and 2012, the number of individuals who didn’t own a car increased by a mere three percent.
City leadership also believes that increased car usage has a number of detrimental effects on the city and on urban residents. Aside from increased noise pollution, increased car usage has proven to worsen air quality and the amount of Nitrogen Dioxide in London’s air. According to a 2015 research report conducted by King’s College London, 5,900 deaths per year occur due to exposure to low quality air.
The report also states that increased exposure to PM 2.5 and nitrogen dioxide costs the city between £1.4 billion ($1.83 billion) to £3.7 billion ($4.86 billion) every year in health impact.
As part of Sadiq Khan’s Transport Strategy for 2018, the city will launch a “Healthy Streets” initiative to help improve urban health, the overall transport experience, and create new homes and jobs for its growing population. Khan has allocated approximately 2.2 billion pounds ($2.9 billion) for the initiative.
Albeit necessary for the traffic-congested capital, it it not clear where London’s disabled population fits into the scheme. As it stands, there are over 13.9 million people differently abled people across Great Britain. In London specifically, 20 stations out of the city’s 71 stations are not wheelchair-accessible.
Earlier this year, Mayor Khan introduced the unlimited one-hour hopper fare, which allows passengers to make as many changes between underground, bus, and tram within an hour.
Mayor Khan’s Walking Action Plan plans to make the city walkable for the most part by 2041, which is when the population of London is expected to grow to 10.8 million people.