Designing Urban Environments for Humans, Not Just Cars

Newham – a borough of London, England –  has partnered with VivaCity to implement its 15-Minute Neighborhood program. The program seeks to bring new opportunities and life to the area by creating an urban environment that is designed for humans, not just for cars. 

A people-centric urban environment needs a modal shift towards active travel and micro mobility, which requires strategic investments in cycling and walking infrastructures. Newham expects that facilitating this modal shift from cars towards sustainable travel will result in reduced emissions and improved air quality, an increase in foot traffic in local streets, along with an improved sense of safety and wellbeing for the community.

Two of the 15-Minute Neighborhood program’s projects are: 

  • Shared Spaces – a regeneration project that focuses on improving the public realm and creating positive experiences on local main streets; and
  • Connected Neighborhoods – which seeks to develop a strategic active travel corridor along a busy thoroughfare in the borough.

VivaCity’s sensors will provide detailed, anonymous insights on road usage and behaviors. The traffic monitoring data generated will support these projects by analyzing datasets in order to better understand the impact of these projects over an extended period of time, and the return on investment.  

“Monitoring and evaluation is a really important part of the 15-Minute Neighborhood project in Newham,” said Murray Woodburn, head of transport policies and programs. “The core aim of our interventions is to create healthier and happier communities around our high streets, where people in Newham can access all the basic, day-to-day needs within a 15 minute walk or cycle from their home. 

The program was funded by a £40m grant from the UK Government’s Levelling Up fund which supports projects which address geographical inequality through infrastructure investment.