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London Obesity Taskforce urges change for safer streets

The streets of London will only become safer and more child-friendly if the decision-makers – individuals and organisations – commit now to delivering change

That’s the call from London’s Child Obesity Taskforce, which has issued a call to arms to anyone with responsibility for making the streets safer to promote alternative mobility methods for youngsters like walking and cycling.

Across London, around 1.1 million schoolchildren recently went back to school, in turn creating over two million school journeys every day. Families are among those being asked to think about how they can help reduce the demand on public transport by helping their children try walking or cycling.

‘Take decisions that will make active journeys safer’

London’s Child Obesity Taskforce is a group of professionals, brought together by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Its goal is to help ensure every child in London grows up in a community and environment that supports their health and weight. By 2030 it wants to have halve the percentage of London’s children who are overweight at the start of primary school and obese at the end of primary school, and to reduce the gap in childhood obesity rates between the richest and poorest areas in London

The taskforce spoke to schoolchildren about why they might prefer to walk, cycle or scooter to school, and what the adults who make the decisions can do to try and make active journeys safer and easier on the city’s streets.

It is calling on individuals and organisations to:

  • Use their power as a politician or developer to take decisions that will make active journeys safer and easier. This includes by allocating funding, and by only approving schemes that are in line with best practice, such as the design principles in the Government’s Cycling and Walking plan or Transport for London (TfL) streets toolkit. They can also take part in initiatives like those led by TfL and cycling network Sustrans
  • use their position as a professional in the sector to advocate for, design and deliver changes to streets that will make active journeys safer and easier using the Government’s Cycling and Walking plan or TfL’s streets toolkit.   
  • spread the word and show your support. As a parent, professional or local resident, tell others that you want and support bold action. Follow @LDNchildobesity, share the message and the taskforce video, and ask their own leaders to support change.

‘Spread the word and show your support’

The taskforce also said that young Londonders ‘are not alone’ in wanting change. It pointed to a recent survey which found that people across were behind changes to the streets to encourage walking and cycling on a ratio of 6.5 to 1 (YouGov, July 2020). People against this type of change tend to be ‘an extremely vocal minority’, it added.

Click here for more about the taskforce, or email

Author: Simon Weedy

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