Why do we need to change?
We are facing many challenges in Waltham Forest, including
dangerous levels of air pollution especially in our busier streets, affecting lung development in young people, and leading to 9,500 premature deaths in London
- residential streets that are filling up with parked and rat running motor traffic, despite only half of Walthamstow households having access to a car,
- offputting streets for ‘active travel’ – too dangerous for most people to want to cycle in, and which are not pleasant or particularly convenient for walking,
- growing levels of obesity, which is particularly worrying in primary age children – in Waltham Forest 14 per cent of children age 11 are overweight and over 23 per cent are obese or overweight,
- a rapidly increasing population … Waltham Forest’s population is forecast to increase by 32% from 2011 to reach over 340,000 by 2041; that’s just under 100,000 additional people. We can easily build more homes but there’s precious no scope for more roads or parking spaces,
- 40% of outer London car journeys are less than 2km, and the school run now accounts for at least one in every five cars on London’s roads. Many of our streets have reached peak motor vehicle capacity (especially at rush hour and school run times) and are therefore often very congested,
- and the social justice elephant in the room… huge numbers of residents have no access to a private car hence get none of the benefits, and suffer all the downsides. In some Walthamstow wards 50% of households do not have access to a car.
And on top of that there is an urgent need for everyone (especially the more industrialised nations) to reduce our carbon footprint in order to prevent run-away climate change.
Local retail businesses face many threats at present, including Westfield, large supermarkets, internet shopping, economic instability & austerity measures, weak consumer demand, unattractive streets due to traffic noise, pollution and congestion, and increasing competition amongst service industries (eg the rapid increase in cafes & restaurants has not been matched by an increase in consumers). Mini Holland offers an opportunity to make our streets much more attractive and entice more customers to local businesses.
Change can be challenging for communities … but this is nothing compared to what we face in a few years if we don’t adopt more environmentally benign transport modes, reduce our resource utilisation (fossil fuels, other non-renewable materials), & develop more stable and localised economies.