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What makes a street healthy?

Published: 24 July 2018

We chat with leading public health consultant Lucy Saunders, who will speak at Auckland Conversations this August, on healthy streets for Aucklanders. 

What makes a street healthy?

There are 10 Healthy Streets Indicators which I will be talking through at Auckland Conversations. You can read more about them in the Guide to the Healthy Streets Indicators.

What are some tactical ideas for quickly improving the health of a street?

The quickest way to improve the health of a street is to drive more slowly and smoothly, avoiding sharp accelerations and decelerations and always being ready to stop safely.

This is something everyone can do. It makes streets safer, more welcoming and inclusive for people walking, cycling and socialising.

Putting some planting out on the street helps to boost mental health and to make streets feel like places for people. Planting can be used to create space for walking, cycling and socialising. There are lots of examples of tactical ideas in Small Change Big Impact.

You are currently working with Transport for London. What are some of the changes happening to make healthy streets a key part of transport planning there?

Healthy Streets is the framework for London's Transport Strategy and it is a core part of the spatial plan for the city. This is a significant shift in priorities, now we consider how we are improving health when we make decisions about what to do. We are using tools like the Healthy Streets Check for Designers to drive up the level of ambition in our new designs for streets.

We are also tracking how our streets are performing against the 10 Healthy Streets Indicators to make sure we are making the right decisions and working at the pace and scale needed to deliver the change that Londoners need to experience the health benefits.

Your background is in public health. When did you start thinking about the impact that our urban environments and transport systems have on our health?

I worked for many years on other aspects of public health but I was also studying the biggest causes of illness, early death and health inequality. I realised that the most effective thing you can do to have the biggest health benefit in urban areas is to make the streets healthy environments for people.

What are some exciting international projects that are demonstrating a commitment to Healthy Streets?

Last year I visited Seoul in South Korea and was really impressed with the projects they are delivering, they still have a long way to go because the city is very traffic dominated but they show the level of ambition needed and great skill in creating places for people. You can read more about it here.

Many cities are taking their own approach to delivering Healthy Streets in small ways and I will be showing some examples from cities around the world in my presentation.

Read more: Transport Community


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