Customer story: London Borough of Hackney, UK

Transport Planning Process
'screenshot of 'London Borough of Hackney, UK
'screenshot of 'London Borough of Hackney, UK

Active travel is accelerating

All over England, ‘active travel’ measures are changing the roads to make it easier to get out of the car and walk, cycle, or (in a few cases) get on an e-scooter. May 2020 saw the UK government launch the Active Travel Fund for measures to create a new era for cycling and walking, spurred by the need to help the country emerge from the Coronavirus crisis.

Some of the first funded projects saw opposition from motorists, business owners and others, and lack of consultation was cited as a key omission.

In response the government made later allocations conditional on local consultation having taken place. Hackney was in a strong position here, as they had been using Citizen Space for a number of years to run online consultations.

Pioneering sustainable travel

Hackney is a leader in sustainable travel, with the highest cycling rate of any London borough and among the lowest proportions of car ownership. It was a natural place to pilot the School Streets scheme back in 2017, an initiative where streets nearest a school become a pedestrian and cycle-only zone twice a day.

Consultation on the first ever School Street, held via Citizen Space, showed around 80% of respondents were in favour. The scheme’s strong public support continued apace, and Hackney Council now hopes to extend the scheme to every primary school in the borough.

The council’s ‘Rebuilding a Greener Hackney’ project, of which School Streets is a part, has created 19 new low traffic neighbourhoods or areas, and new protected cycle lanes at Queensbridge Road and Green Lanes. When running a public consultation on the Green Lanes cycle lane, Hackney Council took pains to ensure their readers understood the measures proposed: they included photos of floating bus stops and blended crossings and explained why they were needed. Embedded maps and images of a roadway cross-section further enabled people to review the proposals from different perspectives.

Promoting digital democracy

Citizen Space is a natural choice for the highly localised consultations needed for active travel plans. Its pages can accommodate large-scale maps, high-quality images and other rich media to provide different ways to communicate with audiences and promote digital democracy. And it’s easy for admins to add various formats when inputting content; you can embed files into Citizen Space anywhere you see a rich text editor box. This includes the main consultation overview and page descriptions, fact banks and explanatory text components in online surveys.

On top of which, Citizen Space is an integrated platform that has analysis, feedback mechanisms and survey design all in one place. This ensures not only that all that information is there and accessible for residents, but that admins have a streamlined system to collate and present the out-comes in a timely way.

The level of support we get with Citizen Space is amazing. Knowing that I can always speak to someone on the phone quickly if anything comes up is great and really puts us at ease.

Florence Obinna, Consultation Manager, Hackney Council

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