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Expert Voices: Michèle Dix, Managing Director of Planning at Transport for London (TfL)

Every Londoner, business and visitor is affected by what happens on the city’s streets and roads. 80 percent of all trips made by people and 90 percent of all goods moved in London everyday are by road. London’s streets also account for 80 percent of London’s public spaces. With London’s population set to rise by a further 1.7 million to around 10 million by 2031, the demands on the capital’s roads and streets from all users is only set to grow.

Transport For London Cover

Over the past year, the Mayor’s Roads Task Force (RTF), an independent body brought together from a wide range of different interests and expertise, has studied the challenges facing London’s roads and the best examples of street management and urban design across the globe. While spending on rail-based transport is often seen as ‘good’ or ‘green’, investment in roads is often viewed as ‘bad’ or ‘unsustainable’. The RTF believes that quality streets and roads are vital for all users — they are where we live, do our shopping and go to leisure destinations.

In July, the RTF set out its bold new vision for the future of London’s roads and streets, to ensure the capital can cope with major population growth, support jobs and thousands of new homes, while remaining one of the most attractive, vibrant, accessible and competitive world cities.

While it recognises that major improvements have been delivered in recent years, the report calls on London to embrace more innovative solutions in the future. Major investment is required to support not just the movement of people and goods, but also high quality roads, public spaces and revitalised high streets that will ensure London remains attractive and competitive among world cities.

The RTF’s bold new approach includes roofing over arterial roads to create new surface space, changing the way goods and services are delivered, and making greater use of intelligent systems and technology to reduce delays at traffic signals and provide real-time information to all.

The RTF also called for studies to investigate the potential for tolled road tunnels to replace surface capacity that could be used to improve the public realm and encourage more walking and cycling journeys, while also enabling a reliable strategic road network.

Transport For London Backup

We at Transport for London (TfL) have welcomed the RTF report and its vision for a 21st century road and street network, to ensure the capital can cope with major population growth while remaining one of the most vibrant, accessible and competitive world cities. Working with partners, including London’s boroughs and the representatives of all road users, we will build on the improvements seen in the management of London’s roads, streets and public spaces in recent years and take forward the RTF recommendations.

The RTF estimate their vision will require substantial, long-term investment of at least £30bn over the next 20 years, delivered through TfL, boroughs, central government, developers and other stakeholders working collaboratively. Our Business Plan already includes plans to invest circa £4bn in London’s road and street network over the next decade. Strategic studies to be undertaken in the coming years will help to further define future transport needs and by working with partners, we will look to identify and unlock additional sources of funding to support investment in roads and streets in future.

The full report can be found here.