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‘Room for improvement’ was the message coming from key stakeholders in the City’s cycling community at a forum held to explore how employers can work with the authority to improve road safety in the Square Mile. The ‘Safer in the City’ event on 23 November was a venture initiated by...

‘Room for improvement’ was the message coming from key stakeholders in the City’s cycling community at a forum held to explore how employers can work with the authority to improve road safety in the Square Mile.

The ‘Safer in the City’ event on 23 November was a venture initiated by the Corporation’s Road Danger Reduction and Behaviour Change team, and welcomed some leading figures in the local cycling movement to express their views to some 150 people.

Alderman Alison Gowman, councillor for Dowgate Ward – home to Nomura investment bank where the forum was held – chaired a panel which comprised Peter Murray of New London Architecture; Andrew Grieve, an air quality analyst from King’s College; Carol Neil, the head of corporate travel at Nomura; and Ian Edwards, Nuffield programme director at Nomura Health and Fitness.

“We are all very concerned about how we can move around the City safely,” explained Alderman Gowman as she introduced the panel. She admitted the process of keeping cyclists and pedestrians safe on the streets of the Square Mile was “a juggle”, but said: “The one aim we have is a safer City for everybody; the Corporation takes a very serious approach to road safety and reducing danger.”

The City is the final destination for more than 350,000 people Monday to Friday, and it is the weekend lull which Mr Murray, in his role as chairman of New London Architecture, wants to see utilised for the good of local and visiting cyclists.

Outlining his bold proposal, Mr Murray said: “We have a changing culture that needs to respond to the needs of the people. “London has to seriously think about ways in which we can share space, and that is something that takes consideration. I would like to see the City closing off certain streets at the weekend to create a respirare area.”

Mr Murray explained that regular closures would act as unique visitor opportunities at a time when the City is routinely void of inhabitants. He argued there is precedent for the move. “The Lord Mayor’s Show shows that roads can be closed with minimal impact on the surrounding areas. Pedestrian and cycling areas in the heart of the City would provide a huge boast for shopping and culture.”

He also called for “proper cycling accommodation in planning permissions” and for future developments to “step up” to address the need for designated bike parking in the Square Mile. The environmental cleanliness of the heart of the Capital was also under scrutiny, with Mr Grieve previewing the launch of a new app that has been designed to help protect people while out and about in the City.

CityAir, now available for download from the App Store, has been developed to help combat the 10,000 London deaths that are linked to poor air quality each year. “Studies have found that walking and cycling not only create less pollution but also show that people are less exposed to poor air quality when compared to being in a car,” Mr Grieve told the forum.

CityAir gives hourly updates on the cleanest routes through the City, and is created by layering three different pollution-measuring maps on top of each other. The app was created in partnership by the Corporation and King’s. Nomura then took centre stage to highlight some of the ways they have battled back against carbon emissions while striving to promote a healthy work-life balance.

Consolidated deliveries, the use of hybrid vehicles, shared courier services, and a reduced number of suppliers are some of the ways the investment bank have ensured their green credentials, explained Ms Neil. She added: “We are showing everyone that they can adapt, be resourceful and be sustainable.” And that mantra was underlined by Mr Edwards, who outlined Nomura’s many health programmes before addressing concerns of corporate risk surrounding the promotion of cycling in and out of work.

“We are not talking about people cycling from meeting to meeting,” he said during the post-presentation Q&A. “Our corporate responsibility is to put out as much information as possible to our staff while pursuing innovation. Communication is key to pushing this information and new ideas out within the business.”

And to help in the delivery of key messages, the man behind the event, Rory McMullan, the Corporation’s Road Danger Reduction and Behaviour Change manager, has formed the Active City Business Network to give employers the chance to shape active travel policy and initiatives.

The City of London has the highest density of active travellers (pedestrians and cyclists) in the UK, and Mr McMullan said: “We want to encourage active travel as it is good for health, air quality and the environment. We are therefore very concerned that in 2015 some 382 people were injured on the City streets, 42 of those seriously, with one fatality.

“As commuters are on their way to work, and much of the motor traffic is also servicing employers in the City, we are establishing the Active City Business Network to guide our active travel policy and initiatives.

“The founding members are Fieldfisher and Nomura, and we are inviting all City employers to join the network and help us make the City a safer, cleaner place to visit.

“There is no cost to participate, so if you would like to be involved simply send an email to rdr@cityoflondon.gov.uk.”

The first meeting of the network’s steering group will be held on 6 December.

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