Transport initiatives lead action to meet London environmental vision

London mayor Boris Johnson has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 2025 and work has already started in one industry ripe for change, explains Andrew Dorrian.

London mayor Boris Johnson's vision is that the capital will become "the best big city on earth". This is the overarching vision that Transport for London (TfL) and other members of the Greater London Authority family are working to meet over the next 20 years.

TfL faces several challenges in delivering this vision, all of which must be embraced in regional strategies. These include improving access to transport for all Londoners while promoting developments in opportunity areas for transportation growth.

The aim is to increase capacity against a rapidly expanding population and support the economic development of London.

There are additional challenges around enhancing quality of life in the capital. Adding links to everyday services and improving safety and security for users are priorities in making public transport an appealing option for all Londoners.

There is a need to tackle transport's contribution to climate change through initiatives from small-scale behavioural changes in TfL's organisation to investment in greener technologies.

The challenge of supporting the delivery of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games along with the legacy project is important to ensure that the transport network can meet the needs of the event.

The mayor's transport strategy aims to meet these challenges, setting out a 20-year action plan of development to deliver the objectives of the draft replacement London Plan, the mayor's spatial development strategy.

One of the biggest issues facing London is assisting in the reduction of London transport's contribution to climate change. Planning can and should address the impact of this issue, delivering carbon-conscious strategies and programmes.

Johnson has established a target to cut London's carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2025 from a 1990 base. Transport currently accounts for around a fifth of the capital's emissions. The strategy sets out the approach to achieving the necessary contribution from the transport sector towards the target.

This requires a multi-faceted approach. Action is already under way to make London's transport network more environmentally friendly and is an important part of TfL's work. Hybrid buses have been introduced on the network with the aim that from 2012 all new buses are hybrid powered.

Energy consciousness also spreads to infrastructure, with the introduction of LED traffic signals. This year will see the delivery of a cycle hire scheme, the start of construction of cycle superhighways and work to improve public realm spaces.

All of these initiatives can encourage walking and cycling, a new greener way to undertake shorter trips across the capital. Investment is continuing on the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground and Tramlink networks.

More efficient trains, featuring regenerative braking where possible, are being rolled out on the Underground network as part of a wider upgrade programme.

The construction of Crossrail will provide an efficient link across London by 2017, limiting the environmental impact of travelling to the West End, Canary Wharf, Stratford, Heathrow Airport and the London Thames Gateway development areas. The installation of electric car charging infrastructure is also a priority.

Effective planning can help deliver these goals. Integration of planning and transport is crucial to ensure that any development is served by sustainable modes of transport. Promotion of available modes through travel planning can increase the appeal of public transport, walking and cycling. A joined-up approach can deliver solutions to London's transport challenges over the next 20 years.

Andrew Dorrian is on the RTPI young planners London steering group and is an assistant planner in TfL's land use planning team. For further information on the implementation of the London Plan, please visit

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