Cycling in Walthamstow

Mini Holland – The 411



Mini Holland

Photo: Walthamstow Village

By now, you are all aware of Walthamstow’s plans to turn the area surrounding the village into something resembling Amsterdam. No, the council have not agreed to those kind of cafés, instead, the roads will become cycle friendly with pedestrianised areas selected for certain roads. With cycling making up 27% of all journeys in Holland and only 8% of all journeys in the UK, the Mayor of London wanted to make London’s roads safer for cyclists, giving 18 outer London boroughs the chance to apply for funding for the Mini Holland scheme. Waltham Forest, Kingston and Enfield were the three London boroughs to obtain funding with £30 million set aside to make our leafy borough cycle friendly.

Here are the key things you need to know about changes to our area as a result of Mini Holland.



Mini Holland Waltham Forest

Photo: B.H. Belvadi Image: Grace Molan

With these enlightening statistics, it is possible to see that the Mini Holland scheme has undergone vigorous scrutiny over the last few months with the aim to make Waltham Forest a more enjoyable borough to live in.

According to the council, the Mini Holland Scheme will aim to:

– Increase the number of journeys carried out on foot, by bike or on public transport in order to ease congestion and reduce carbon emissions.

– Promote a unified community through the improvement and creation of safe, public areas

-Improve travel connections between the different villages within the borough

The scheme will benefit the whole community from cyclists, pedestrians and shop owners. The streets will become safer due to reduced traffic rates, more street lighting  and general road maintenance improving. Also health within the borough is expected to increase with more people opting to walk or cycle short journeys instead of driving them. The air quality will also increase due to the reduced amount of traffic in the area and the increase in curbside planting, improving the health of all residents.

£30 million still seems like a lot to spend on cycling, however it is a small drop in the ocean compared with the amounts allocated to cycling in other European cities. In Holland, around £20 per head is spent on cycling by the government as opposed to the £1-2 mark in the UK. With Mini Holland, spending will increase to around £10 per head according to research conducted by the Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign. This investment will not only make cycling safer and more regulated within the borough, it will also encourage cycling within the wider community.

So far, the money is proposed to be spent in the following way:

– The improvement of cycle routes crossing east -west and north -south within the borough to join up the different areas in a safe and logical way

-The construction of a cycle ‘super highway’ on Lea Bridge Road to create segregated cycle lanes around the Whipps Cross roundabout

– The creation of villages within the borough using methods such as road blocks and planters to close off roads and promote pedestrian only areas.

Overall, there is a lot for and a lot against the scheme, however with the extensive trial and questionnaire process, the outcome appears to be positive. Of course you cannot please everyone, and there are still a lot of revisions to be made before Mini Holland becomes a harmonious experience, but it is good to see that the council are actively trying to make the area a better place to live in.

Here is what locals make of the scheme so far:

Words: Grace Molan