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'Mini-Holland' schemes boost walking and cycling

Posted on in Cycles News

The first formal study into the impact of the so called ‘mini-holland' schemes in London boroughs have found them to be successful in boosting walking and cycling rates.

The research, led by Dr Rachel Aldred of Westminster University reports on the one-year findings on the impacts of the still in progress ‘mini-Hollands programme' which seeks to transform local environments for walking and cycling, in three Outer London boroughs, where there are low levels of cycling and walking compared to Inner London. The research studied the travel patterns of just over 1,700 people in three mini-Holland areas - Waltham Forest, Enfield and Kingston - and in various other outer London boroughs which have not seen such changes

cycle pathThe research found that after one year, people living in parts of such boroughs were, on average, walking and cycling for 41 minutes a week more than those living in comparable areas.

While the schemes were primarily billed as seeking to boost cycling, the bigger increase in active travel came on foot - an extra 32 minutes weekly on average, with nine more minutes by bike.

One of the main objections was the idea the mini-Hollands would benefit cycling at the expense other other modes. But Aldred's study says: "We found no evidence of this. For instance, there was no evidence that time spent in cars was increasing (due to congestion), nor that walking environments were becoming less attractive due to the introduction of cycle lanes."

The £100 million ‘mini-Holland' programme was part of a commitment that the previous Mayor of London Boris Johnson, made to better protect vulnerable road users, learning from the Dutch's approach to cycling in cities. According to TfL, the framework aims to tackle London's ‘inactivity crisis' by supporting a shift from private car use to active transport modes, through creating pedestrian- and cycling-friendly street environments.

There was no significant reduction in overall car use in the mini-Holland areas compared with elsewhere. However, those in the boroughs experiencing the new scheme showed a change towards more positive public attitudes to cycling.

Aldred, who will continue to study the schemes, said it was notable to see such an impact in the first year of operation: "This includes new uptake of cycling, not just existing cyclists riding more.

"It is also important to note that while the schemes are sometimes perceived as being ‘for cyclists', they are encouraging more walking - in fact, the increase in walking is greater in absolute terms than the increase in cycling."

Dr Will Norman, who is in charge of cycling and walking under London's current mayor, Sadiq Khan, said "This study is further proof that our mini-Holland programme is already making a big difference," he 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 programme is giving all boroughs the opportunity to bid for funding to make similar positive changes to their areas."

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