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London 'Mini-Holland' schemes a success, report finds

Joe Robinson
26 Jun 2018

First research into 'Mini-Holland' schemes show increases in cycling and walking in effected boroughs

The controversial decision to incorporate 'Mini-Holland' schemes across London boroughs has seen an uplift in cycling and walking according to the first study into their impact. 

One year after implementation, the 'Mini-Holland' schemes are said to have increased walking and cycling by 41 minutes a week per person in the boroughs which use such road systems compared to those that do not.

Surprisingly, the study conducted by the University of Westminster found that although the schemes focus mainly on allowing safer routes for cycling, the schemes predominantly saw an increase in walking with 32 of the 41 minutes being made up by foot.

However, the proportional increase was higher for cycling which experienced an 18% rise.

Although the implementation of the scheme did not find a decrease in car use, study leader Dr Rachel Aldred of the University of Westminster did state that no correlation was found between road congestion and the introduction of cycle lanes. 

Aldred commented that 'there was no evidence that time spent in cars was increasing [as a result of congestion], nor that walking environments were becoming less attractive due to the introduction of cycle lanes.'

This will jar against local opposition who fought against the implementation of such systems in Enfield citing an increase in air pollution and drop in local business trade as their reasons.

These complaints even reached judicial review before being discarded.

Alongside the construction of the various cycle 'superhighways' across London, the 'Mini-Holland' systems have been used as an excuse for excessive congestion in London's surrounding areas and it's illegal air quality, although this study shows evidence to the contrary.

In fact, Aldred's study found that residents of areas with the 'Mini-Holland' schemes 'were also more likely to think that the local environment was getting better, measured by 14 questions about topics like safety of cycling and ease of walking across the street.' 

Commissioned by Transport for London, the study by the University of Westminster looked into the travel pattern of 1,700 people across the outskirts of London in the boroughs of Waltham Forest, Enfield and Kingston compared to areas without such 'Mini-Holland' systems in May and June of 2016 and then the same months of 2017.

The 'Mini-Holland' schemes, which were introduced by former London Mayor Boris Johnson, incorporate various road designs including segregated cycle lanes at junctions and make certain roads access-only for motor vehicles while allowing bike traffic to pass through. 

Talking after publication, Aldred spoke of the schemes' instant success.

'New infrastructure often takes some time to have an effect on active travel, but in this case we are seeing positive results after only one year,' Aldred said.

'This includes new uptake of cycling, not just existing cyclists riding more.'

Cycling and walking commissioner for London Will Norman also commented on the success of the now rebranded 'liveable neighbourhoods' and his hopes for auch schemes to be expanded across London.

'This study is further proof that our Mini-Holland programme is already making a big difference,' Norman said.

'The fact that more people are choosing to cycle and walk more often brings huge benefits, not only to the health and wellbeing of individual Londoners but also to the wider community.

'I’m proud that the Liveable Neighbourhoods programme is giving all boroughs the opportunity to bid for funding to make similar positive changes to their areas.'

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