Bow Consultation FAQs

    Why is the Bow Consultation happening?

    The current consultation in Bow is part of the Liveable Streets initiative which aims to improve the area for all Tower Hamlets residents by making changes to the street infrastructure. Over a 4-year period, 17 areas across the borough have been identified for the scheme.  By reallocating road space to walking and cycling, the scheme will encourage changes in travel behaviour which will help to improve people’s health and well-being.

    What’s happened so far?

    The Liveable Streets engagement programme for the Bow started in April 2019. We undertook an early engagement survey, in April and May 2019. The results of the engagement activities are detailed in the Early Engagement Report.

    During the early engagement period, from April to May 2019, you gave your feedback through an online survey, interactive map and drop-in sessions. More than 1,000 comments and ideas were generated from across the interactive map and survey. Over 70% of the survey responses came from the residents of Bow.

    We then held co-design workshops with more than 140 residents, business representatives and local traders in attendance in November 2019 and February 2020, where the project team, local businesses and residents worked together to develop these proposals.

    We have put together a report reflecting the feedback which you can read: Co-Design Workshop Report. Feedback from the workshops was incorporated into the final proposal options. We have also published the presentation and exercises from the Co-Design Workshops: View the presentation.

    We are now in the Public Consultation phase which uses these final proposal options, getting feedback from the public and hear their views. The Consultation window will run until Wednesday 29 July.

    What happened with the Bow Trial?

    The 2019 one-week trial in Bow ended on the first day due to concerns raised by some members of the Bow community as well as traffic routing complications.

    A positive outcome of the trial was higher levels of visibility and engagement in the Bow Liveable Streets area and the recognition of the importance of improving road safety, the environment and air quality. 

    We recognise that this trial raised concerns. We have listened to these, and we want to hear your responses to this new consultation. Unfortunately it won't be possible to find a solution that meets all needs. Please make sure you have your say so we can take as many views as possible into account.

    What is being proposed?

    Seven schemes have been developed to improve walking and cycling, create better public spaces, discourage through-traffic and improve air quality.

    We are proposing traffic changes and calming measures to make local streets safer for everyone. Pedestrian improvements, better street lighting, tree planting and cycling infrastructure are also considered.

    Why are these proposals important?

    Every day there are over 33,000 journeys within the Bow area. Of these, 49% are vehicles travelling through the area and not stopping. This means over 16,000 journeys are from non-residents of the local area and these vehicles are contributing to the already unacceptable levels of air pollution on your streets, outside your schools and around your local shops.

    The Liveable Streets proposals will help improve road safety, public spaces, air quality and give the streets back to the residents. However to achieve this some local residents who want to drive may have to travel longer distances.

    How can residents and businesses be involved in the design of their local area?

    The programme is currently in the Consultation phase. Including the Consultation phase, there are three remaining phases:

    • Consultation – We request feedback on the proposed design that has been developed in conjunction with residents and businesses.
    • Detailed co-design – Some elements of the design require further community input to shape the designs to best fit the desires of locals.
    • Implementation – If the projects are approved by the council, the design will be constructed over an agreed timescale.

    The public consultation is an opportunity for the people who live, work and go to school in Bow to provide feedback on our proposals for Bow. Your views are important to us please, have your say by filling online at: www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/liveablestreets 

    If you require information in another format or have any further questions, 

    email, phone or write to us at: 

    liveablestreets@towerhamlets.gov.uk  

    0203 092 0401 (weekdays, excluding public holidays, 9am - 5pm)

    Liveable Streets 

    6th Floor Mulberry Place 

    PO Box 55739 

    5 Clove Crescent 

    London E14 2BG

    What is a bus gateway?

    Bus gateways are part of a road, which during operational hours, permit only buses, emergency vehicles and cyclists to travel through without hindrance or penalty. There are different ways in which a bus gateway could operate, either 24 hours a day or during certain hours or days (e.g. weekend peak hours).

    It is not a physical gate and is instead enforced using automatic number plate recognition cameras. 

    Road markings and signs indicate to drivers the location of the bus gateway and provide warnings of the restrictions in advance.

    Can you supply resident permits for bus gateways?

    As the Liveable Streets programme aims to encourage the use of sustainable modes of travel, supplying resident permits is likely to encourage shorter local journeys by car and therefore not achieve the goals of the programme.

    In line with Liveable Streets objectives, bus gateways are proposed to enable bus services to operate while also reducing vehicle volumes in residential streets. 

    The programme is focused on measures to reduce vehicle volumes and creating optimal conditions for walking and cycling.  

    Will buses be impacted by these projects?

    The proposed bus gateway will ensure that bus routes and reliability are not impacted.  We are also proposing to improve the bus waiting areas at the busy Roman Road/St Stephen’s Road bus stop at the junction. 

    Any works which may affect the bus routes will have to be agreed with Transport for London (TfL). Changes to any routes, bus stops or times can be found on the council and TfL website.

    Will school buses be able to travel through the bus gate?

    All school buses will be exempt from bus gate restrictions. School buses can travel freely through a bus gate without hindrance or penalty.

    Can cyclists still travel through road closures?

    When people talk about the 'road closing', they mean 'closed to motorised traffic': that is all cars, vans, motorcycles, lorries etc. They are still 'open' to pedestrians and cyclists. Some closures will also allow access for emergency vehicles.

    How will timed restrictions be enforced?

    A timed road closure will be enforced by a camera system or parking/moving vehicle restrictions.

    What is a continuous crossing?

    A continuous crossing or footway is an uninterrupted pavement that extends across a side road. The section of footway crossing the road is at the same level as the rest of the pavement, meaning motorists and cyclists must travel up and over it - helping to keep vehicle speeds low and giving visual priority to pedestrians. It also makes crossing easier for vulnerable pedestrians and those travelling with prams, pushchairs, wheelchairs, mobility scooters or trolleys.

    Will I still be able to access my property if I have a car?

    Yes. All areas are still accessible by vehicle, however it maybe via a new route.

    Will parking and loading be affected?

    In some areas we are proposing to reduce or reorganise car parking to allow the installation of additional cycle parking, new public spaces and infrastructure. Where parking reductions do occur, we will aim to install specific facilities (loading and disabled bays) to enable loading activity and improve accessibility for disabled users, to ensure businesses can be serviced and easily reached by all customers.

    The proposals will mean a loss of parking on Roman Road, at the Roman Road car park, and on some of the walking route roads.

    Roman Road

    Removal of 5 parking spaces to provide additional pedestrian and planted areas along the street

    Consolidate number of loading bays from 16 to 8, and convert some of these bays to short stay parking

    Roman Road car park

    Removal of 7 spaces 

    Old Ford Road

    Proposed 3 new short stay parking bays near the shops, and new parking spaces proposed either side of Skew Bridge.

    Coborn Road

    Removal of one parking bay to improve visibility at Tredegar Rd junction, removal of three parking bays to create opportunities for two-way vehicles to pass

    Coborn Street

    Removal of two parking bays for proposed new cycle hangar on School Street

    Grove Road

    Removal of one parking bay to introduce cycle filter on Morgan Street

    Malmesbury Road

    Removal of one parking bay to introduce a new zebra crossing

    Fairfield Road

    Removal of two parking bays to accommodate new pedestrian refuge crossing

    How will these projects impact emergency services?

    We listen to the needs of our emergency services and as a result of feedback to date, amendments have been made to our proposals to ensure they can have access in an emergency. We will continue to engage with them as the project progresses.

    How will the outcome of road layout changes be measured?

    Following the analysis of the consultation results, should the scheme be supported, it will require approval from Cabinet to proceed. 

    The Liveable Streets scheme within Bow will be implemented on an Experimental Traffic Order which has a duration of 18 months. This enables the council to make changes, remove or make the scheme permanent after the scheme has been implemented.

    What improvements are there for me as a business owner?

    • Improved public realm in retail areas to attract visitors.
    • Increase in footfall in retail areas, creating a boost for local businesses in our town centres.
    • Provide new public seating, green spaces and tree planting to create a healthier environment.
    • Encouraging customers to spend more time, feeling safe and comfortable.
    • Pedestrian routes have been improved through wider pavements and appropriate dropped kerbs, allowing easier movement for shoppers.

    Will the Roman Road Market be impacted?

    The Roman Road Market is the heart of the Bow high street and preserving and enhancing the legacy of the market is a top priority for the Liveable Streets programme. The Roman Road Market licensed market pitches will not be impacted as part of the proposals. Existing locations will remain as they currently are. Parking restrictions on market days (no parking 6am – 5:30pm, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) will also remain unimpacted to ensure market traders full access to their pitches as usual.  We are working with businesses and market traders to ensure their views on the proposals are heard.

    Will my customers be impacted?

    Retail is a crucial element of a thriving high street and in line with Liveable Streets objectives, the programme in Bow is focused on measures to improve the area for businesses and their customers and residents alike - by reducing vehicle volumes, and creating optimal conditions for walking and cycling. 

    We believe, by transforming car-oriented streets into more functional public and pedestrian spaces, means there is the potential to create environments that support walking and cycling and economic development.

    Shared and public spaces are vital components of high streets. These spaces are what build community, and are often under-used, becoming simple thoroughfares. Studies increasingly show customer behaviour, shopping habits and social attitudes have changed. To remain relevant and as important to communities and businesses as they have been in the past, the centres of our towns and cities and our high streets have to change with them. In 2020, there's no point in chasing the traditional model of the high street - a place where people come together to shop. Now more than ever with the impact of COVID-19, we need to re-imagine the high street and drive towards a new future where people come together for many different reasons. 

    Creative thinking, in line with the current design proposals for Bow, is needed so these spaces can become the focal point for the social interaction that is the heart of the high street experience – an area that is enjoyed by all members of the local community. Pedestrianisation is arguably one such method of improving public spaces and high streets. Positive results have been found in recent years in locations such as Walthamstow Central.

Coronavirus Related Information

    How will the Liveable Streets programme support our vulnerable residents?

    As part of these proposals, an Equalities Impact Assessment was carried out and showed no group would be adversely impacted based on the potential outcome of this consultation. We also continue our work with REAL, Age UK and local community groups to ensure the needs of the community are captured. Ongoing meetings with these groups will continue throughout the consultation window. 

    One of the programme aims is to reduce the overall number of short car journeys, make it safer and more convenient to get around by foot and bike. Measures such as the widening of pavements and pedestrianisation, ensuring an accessible public realm for all, is critical to meet the needs of our children, elderly and disabled – our most vulnerable residents. The wellbeing of residents is our priority and inclusivity is at the heart of that priority. This is one of the guiding principles in all decisions made by the Liveable Streets programme.

    Why is the council consulting during the Coronavirus pandemic?

    We are passionate about maintaining an ongoing and robust engagement programme at this time to move forward with the programme and to ensure the public is aware and fully informed of the Liveable Streets objectives. The programme has simultaneous benefits for the health of our residents and the sustainability of the borough in the face of both the Coronavirus pandemic and the climate emergency.

    The government has contributed a £250million emergency walking and cycling fund for local authorities to make these alternatives viable. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Transport for London have also announced plans to transform parts of central London into one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world.

    Why is the Liveable Streets programme important right now?

    The Liveable Streets programme is crucial to the health and wellbeing of Tower Hamlets residents now more than ever. We want to contribute to minimising the cycle of car use, exposure to air pollution and the subsequent increased risk of coronavirus. By continuing to live in air polluted areas, our residents remain vulnerable to poor health generally and especially now during the current pandemic.

    Social distancing may last for years, and public transport capacity is predicted to drop by 85-90% to curb the spread of the virus through social distancing. In response, people may opt to use private motor vehicles. As the fastest growing population in London, this would be an inefficient use of limited road space and oversubscribed car parking facilities.

    What is Streetspace?

    In line with the coronavirus response and the easing of some movement restrictions, we have seen an increase in people walking and cycling in some streets in Tower Hamlets. Crowded pavements and cycle lanes will make it difficult for people to maintain social distancing as they return to work or education. Public transport must only be used when necessary to ensure that people making essential journeys can get around as safely as possible. 

    The council are working with Transport for London to identify places where temporary changes are needed to support social distancing or that would benefit from cycling and walking improvements. The changes could include but are not limited to the widening of pavements, a change to the road layout or the introduction of dedicated cycling space. Following government guidelines, we have implemented an emergency closure on Skew Bridge in Old Ford Road and temporary pavement widening in Roman Road to ensure the safety of pedestrians. We have applied for funding for similar measures at other busy locations in the borough. For more details, visit the Streetspace for Tower Hamlets page.

    Why is Skew Bridge temporarily closed to vehicle traffic?

    From Tuesday 4 May, the Skew Bridge has been temporarily closed to motor vehicles to help residents maintain the social distancing guideline and ensure people can travel as safely as possible. Pedestrians and cyclists can cross Skew Bridge as normal. This section of road over the Skew Bridge on Old Ford Road is very narrow and makes it difficult for those walking and cycling to maintain social distancing as more people return to work and school as the country begins to reopen.

    Is it okay to deliver a leaflet to my house during Coronavirus?

    We believe it is crucial, along with all Post Office and Parcelforce deliveries, that our Liveable Streets engagement material continues to be distributed to the people living within the project boundaries. Our leaflet distributors actively monitor the latest guidance from Public Health England, and we are confident in their compliance with safety measures and legislations. We were also reassured to learn Public Health England have advised there is no perceived increase in risk of contracting the coronavirus from handling post or freight. 

    As postal and freight sectors are permitted to operate during the lockdown under the governments key workers stipulations, we take our responsibilities very seriously during this time. From their experience with other coronaviruses, these types of viruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters, parcels or identity documents. However, it is sensible to wash your hands thoroughly after contact with anything outside of your home and to avoid touching your face.

    With regards to the handling, printing and preparation of the materials delivered on behalf of the Liveable Streets programme, face shields with adjustable foam headbands are worn at the print and fulfilment facility, in tandem with social distancing measures on site. Latex gloves are worn while on the premises and hands are washed, in line with government guidelines, on entry and exit from the building.

    I am considered a high-risk person; do I still receive engagement material?

    We understand and respect each residential property has a unique set of wishes and requirements during the lockdown and our distributors have reiterated they will not deliver to an individual who has requested not to receive material.  

    Where can I find more information?

    If you have any concerns or further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Liveable Streets team below.

    liveablestreets@towerhamlets.gov.uk  (External link)

    0203 092 0401 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)

    Liveable Streets 

    6th Floor Mulberry Place 

    PO Box 55739 

    5 Clove Crescent 

    London E14 2BG

Liveable Streets FAQs

    What are the benefits of the programme?

      • A network of pedestrian-friendly, low traffic zones connected by formal crossing points, to make walking safer, easier and more accessible.
      • A more pleasant walking environment with improved pavements, planting trees and shrubs, improved lighting and public art, to improve the attractiveness of walking routes and reduce fear of crime.
      • A network of cycle-friendly, low traffic zones connected by formal crossing points, to make cycling safer, easier and more accessible.
      • Increase in cycle facilities, such as secure parking at public transport hubs and shopping areas, hangars in residential streets
      • Improved public realm in retail areas to attract visitors, such as greenery, street furniture, street lighting etc.
      • Provide new public seating, green spaces and tree planting to create a healthier environment.
      • Encouraging customers to spend more time, feeling safe and comfortable.
      • Wider pedestrian routes, allowing easier movement for shoppers of all ages and abilities.
      • Improved local streetscape with reduced noise and road danger.
      • Residents will be able to access better connected routes to the borough’s town centres and to neighbouring boroughs.
      • More opportunities to allow school streets, play streets and areas for community events.
      • Schemes will remove potential risks by calming traffic and providing quiet and/or segregated routes for active travel 
      • An increase in cycling and walking among residents will reduce demand on the local road network and public transport services, particularly at peak times.
      • Less traffic will reduce toxic emissions, improve air quality and road safety, and reduce noise pollution – creating a more pleasant environment for all.
      • Increase opportunities for physical activity.
      • More pleasant public spaces will make the borough more attractive to residents and visitors.


    How will you increase the number of people choosing to walk or cycle? How will this be achieved?

    Providing safer, better-connected routes throughout the borough will enable people of all abilities and ages to walk and cycle. This will also be supported by promoting free cycle training and other relevant complementary measures.

    This will be done through a variety of on-street infrastructure projects across the borough, such as changes to road layouts to give priority to walking, cycling and public transport. These projects will be supported by complementary measures to promote active travel.

    What is an active travel complementary measure?

    Complementary measures aim to reduce barriers to walking and cycling within the community. Barriers include lack of secure cycle storage in residential areas and public transport interchanges; safety fears about cycling; access to a bicycle; and maintenance of bicycles.

    Complementary measures such as walking tours, historic walks, free cycle training, free access to Dr Bike (cycle mechanic) at council events, the installation of cycle hangars and hubs will help mitigate against these barriers. This will increase the number of users choosing sustainable modes of transport.

    What areas does the programme cover?

    Seventeen areas were chosen, covering approximately 60 per cent of the borough. These areas have been split into four phases of work across the next four years. The map below shows the project areas and phases. 


    How were the areas selected?

    The rationale for selecting these areas is:

    • Phase one: Substantial work on traffic management reviews has already been carried out in these areas. Following public consultation several schemes have since been built. The public consultation generated many more suggestions for further public realm improvements and provides a strong basis for exploring further changes in these areas.
    • Phase two: These areas tie in with the council’s strategic plans developed by the town centres team, as well as other traffic management reviews that are due to be implemented around the same time.
    • Phase three: Three of these areas are planned to tie in with known Transport for London (TfL) proposals for complementary measures, including cycle routes. New areas have been added to extend the geographical scope of the works into areas where there are known complaints and wider issues that need to be addressed.
    • Phase four: The areas in this phase seek to tie in with development masterplanning due for construction around this time.

    When does each phase of the programme start and finish?

    Details of the overall programme, including the dates for each phase and area, can be found on the Council’s website with links to each project area.

    What kind of improvements might be implemented?

    Improvement projects will vary in each area but are likely to include some of the following:

    • Widened footways
    • Planting trees and shrubs
    • Modal filters (features, such as bollards or signs, used to limit access to streets, to certain methods of transport) / road closures
    • Parklets / pocket parks (parks created on small plots of land, that are accessible to the general public)
    • School Streets
    • Facilitate requests for play streets from residents and community groups

    How can residents and businesses be involved in the design of their local area?

    Throughout the programme, there are several stages when residents and businesses can provide feedback on improvements they would like in their area. These stages are:

    • Early engagement – residents and businesses make comments and suggestions on an interactive map of the area
    • Workshops – Residents and businesses can provide feedback to influence the design of their area
    • Consultation – We request feedback on the proposed design that has been developed in conjunction with residents and businesses.
    • Implementation – If the projects are approved by the council, the design will be constructed over an agreed timescale.

    Where can I submit my ideas?

    For each project area, you can submit your ideas and views through an online survey. We will also be holding events throughout the programme where you can come and talk to us. More information on these events will be provided online as they develop.

    Will I be notified when the engagement starts in my area?

    Each area-based scheme will begin with an early engagement survey. A leaflet will be delivered to each household and business within the area, giving details on how to feed into this survey.

    Schemes will also be promoted through the council’s social media, website and regular newsletters. You can subscribe for newsletter updates on each area via the council’s website.

    Will there be more cycle facilities as part of the Liveable Streets programme?

    Yes, the programme aims to improve the cycle network around Tower Hamlets, increase connectivity in residential areas and provide facilities suitable for users of all ages and abilities.

    Cycle Future Route 5

    TfL is proposing to introduce a new cycle route between Hackney and Westferry. It would connect with the cycle routes between Stratford and Aldgate and Barking to Tower. Parts of this route are proposed through or alongside some Liveable Street areas, and it is expected that TfL will release further information for consultation on the route designs in the coming months.

    What is a School Street?

    A School Street is a scheme where traffic is moved away from the school gate to reduce the impact of vehicle emissions on children’s health and improve road safety. They may involve closing a road to traffic either permanently or at school opening and closing times, or introducing traffic management to discourage idling at the school entrance and reduce congestion.

    By moving traffic away from the school gate we will deliver a safer, more pleasant environment for everyone using the street. At the same time we will maintain access for residents, businesses, pedestrians and cyclists and encourage trips to and from school to be made by sustainable modes. For details of proposed schemes, visit http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/schoolstreets.

    How can my school apply for a School Street?

    Twenty schools have already been prioritised for action, according to air quality statistics, Parking Action areas, the status of their school travel plans etc. In addition, other schools in the Liveable Streets project areas will be reviewed to potentially benefit from a School Street scheme. Speak to school staff regarding the individual School Travel Plan and participation in Transport for London’s STARS accreditation scheme.

    Will buses be impacted by these projects?

    Any works which may affect the bus routes will have to be agreed with Transport for London (TfL). Changes to any routes, bus stops or times can be found on the council and TfL website. We may implement measures to improve bus reliability and we will aim to not affect access to bus services or their reliability.

    Will parking and loading be affected?

    In some areas we may propose to reduce or reorganise car parking to allow the installation of additional cycle parking, new public spaces and infrastructure. Where parking reductions do occur, specific facilities (loading and disabled bays) will be installed to enable loading activity and improve accessibility for disabled users, to ensure businesses can be serviced and easily reached by all customers.

    How will these projects impact emergency services?

    When the council makes any changes to road layouts, the emergency services are included as statutory consultees. This means that the council must consult with them and if they raise objections about the proposals, the council must reconsider the plans.

    Regular meetings will be held with the emergency services to allow them to inform us of any issues that are occurring in the new road layout. This will allow the council to mitigate against these issues promptly.

    Where can I find the air quality levels for my area?

    London Borough of Tower Hamlets operate four real-time air quality monitoring stations in the borough. These are located at Mile End, Victoria Park, Millwall Park and Blackwall Tunnel Approach. The Blackwall Tunnel approach monitoring station is managed by TfL for the council. 

    They measure pollutants in real time which means that the pollution levels are constantly being measured and the results recorded. Results of real time monitoring can be found on the Air Quality England website. In addition to the real-time stations, the council monitors nitrogen dioxide emissions at 90 other locations. For more details, visit the council’s website.

    Further questions

    If you have any further questions about the programme, please feel free to contact us at: liveablestreets@towerhamlets.gov.uk.