Lambeth is a large and varied borough with a diverse population and a range of different characteristics. Population density, age, ethnicity and income profiles vary across the northern, central and southern parts of the borough. Equally, access to public transport services varies across Lambeth, as do levels of car ownership. Nonetheless, we have much in common across our borough and we stand out for the characteristics we share.

The sections below provide more information about transport in Lambeth, from how we use it today through to the long term future of transport as our population grows and new technologies and improvements to our transport network change how we get around.

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Our Borough - key characteristics

  • Lambeth residents make a higher percentage of trips by public transport than residents of any other London borough
  • Almost 4 out of 5 trips made by Lambeth residents are already by public transport, walking and cycling
  • Most households in Lambeth do not have access to a car
  • Lambeth has the highest potential for cycling of any central/inner London borough
  • Motor traffic levels have fallen dramatically on main roads in Lambeth over the last 15 years

DfT analysis suggests that with provision of infrastructure comparable to the Netherlands, the number of trips cycled to work in Lambeth could increase by 300% from 8% in 2011 to 24%. Source: Lambeth Propensity to Cycle Tool Analysis, Transport Initiatives, 2017

These characteristics show that we are already a sustainable transport borough and there is great potential to build on this in the future. However, we also face significant challenges, both to improve our existing transport network and looking ahead, to respond to the needs of the future. These challenges include:

  • The need to de-carbonise our transport network to meet our climate change objectives

  • The need for a radical overhaul of rail services in south London

  • The imperative to make access to transport services fair and equal

  • Making further progress to prioritise walking, cycling and public transport on our streets

  • The need to improve public health, address inequalities and to make sure our transport network is safe and secure.

  • Many of our residents live on housing estates, spread across the borough and making up around one third of our population. Making sure that we deliver improvements for this very significant proportion of our community is therefore a natural priority.

Lambeth residents make around 40,000 cycle trips on daily basis already, but TfL’s analysis shows that there is potential for over 300,000 trips, meaning we have the highest potential for cycling of any comparable borough. Source:Analysis of Cycling Potential, Transport for London, 2017

2. The transport network

The council does not control public transport in Lambeth, but we play an important role in promoting service and infrastructure improvements across the network.

While north and central Lambeth benefit from access to Underground services, providing fast and frequent connections to central London, in the southern part of the borough National Rail links do not provide the same level of service or reliability. The majority of rail and underground services also operate at capacity from the central section of the borough, making it difficult to board trains at busy times. There are also limited public transport options which connect the northern and southern sections of Lambeth together and east–west movements are not as well served as connections into central London.

A significant number of rail and tube stations in Lambeth do not have step free access and this is severely detrimental to those of us who are therefore excluded from travel. In particular, step free journeys from the centre of the borough are much longer and less convenient than they should be. Many Lambeth residents rely on bus services, particularly to access key interchanges such as at Brixton. Average bus speeds have suffered in recent years due to congestion on the strategic road network, resulting in longer journey times. While we do not run public transport services, the council has a big influence on almost all trips people make. We are Highway Authority for 340km of roads in the borough, with Transport for London controlling another 37km of ‘red routes’ in Lambeth.

There has been significant investment in Lambeth’s public realm, in town centres and opportunity areas, as well as in local centres and neighbourhoods. Delivering high quality streets and public spaces is essential both to attract investment in the borough and to ensure that our streets are accessible to all. Lambeth’s neighbourhood approach to street improvements ‘Our Streets’, has led to a co-ordinated approach to small and larger scale environmental and transport improvements.

While there has been significant investment in cycle routes in recent years, there remain gaps in the network, notably between the central southern part of Lambeth and the north of the borough.

Although relatively few trips by our residents are made by car, motor traffic is a real issue. Our borough is bisected by principal routes such as the A23, A24, A3 and the inner London ring road. These routes run through our town/neighbourhood centres. Even with the reduction in traffic we have seen, major routes through the borough still experience peak time congestion and this can spill over into local streets.

Our main roads are also where many of the traffic collisions in Lambeth occur. Safety on our network is a major concern, with far too many people, particularly vulnerable road users, involved in collisions resulting in death and serious injury, many more sustaining minor injuries and other incidents going unreported. Reducing road danger is therefore paramount. Personal safety is also a critical issue, both on our streets and on and around public transport. We know that the most vulnerable place for our young people to be attacked and suffer violence is when they are travelling across the borough.

Air quality is also a major public health issue, with the whole of Lambeth designated as an Air Quality Management Area and road transport generating 60% of all NOx emissions. Road transport is also a major contributor to CO2 emissions in the borough, making up 30% of total borough emissions.

3. Planning for a growing population

London’s population is now the largest it has ever been, at 8.9m, and is projected to continue growing and reach 10.8m by 2041. The number of households in Lambeth is projected to grow from 143,655 in 2016 to 172,649 in 2036 with a population over 359,0007.

As well as providing homes where many highly skilled people live, Lambeth is an important part of London’s economy, an economy which has experienced growth more strongly than the rest of the UK as a whole, and significant further growth is expected with an increase in employment space of 23,000 jobs in Waterloo and Vauxhall alone.

Lambeth’s emerging Growth Strategy underlines the importance of investment in the borough to our ability to deliver across a range of key objectives, tackling inequality and improving the lives of our residents. Transport and place-making are core aspects of our strategy to deliver a Resilient Lambeth.

The Mayor, through the New London Plan (NLP), has committed to protect greenbelt land and chosen to develop the existing urban area more densely, with new homes and jobs largely provided in areas with good public transport connectivity.

Projected growth will generate additional trips on our transport network. There are no major plans at the London-wide level for building new roads, or widening existing ones, to create additional capacity. The challenge is therefore to use our existing road network in a more efficient way, to accommodate the trips necessary for the city to function well, at the same time delivering new and improved public transport infrastructure.

This Strategy has been developed in parallel with the review of Lambeth’s Local Plan, our spatial strategy for development in the borough. The way we shape and plan development in Lambeth has a significant bearing on the transport network and is critical in delivering our sustainable transport objectives. The Strategy also responds to Lambeth declaring a Climate Emergency and the policies and actions emerging in response, as well as to our emerging Digital Strategy and updated Borough Plan.

4. The future of transport

Over the lifetime of the Strategy emerging technologies will take hold and new innovations will emerge. These have the potential to transform the way we think about transport and mobility generally. We see the opportunity to shape this change and will be proactive in trialling and testing emerging and new technologies in the transport sector.

Transport innovations driven by exploiting new technology that are already with us in some form include:

  • A move away from vehicles powered by the internal combustion engine
  • Targeted road-user charging
  • Sophisticated navigation technology
  • Shared car and bikes
  • Connected and autonomous vehicles, and ‘Mobility as a Service’: a change in how travel is consumed typically enabled by apps and mobile technology, enabling the rise in ride hailing services for example.

All of the above need to be considered carefully. For example mobile navigation systems reduce journey times for drivers, but can also lead to excessive motor traffic on residential streets and while ‘autonomous’ vehicles have the potential to improve the capacity, safety and efficiency of the road network, they could also perpetuate and exacerbate existing problems such as congestion and traffic dominance. When assessing the appropriateness of these innovations for Lambeth, we will consider whether they meet the objectives set out in this Strategy.

In order to benefit from the opportunities that new technologies offer in the transport field, we need to secure investment in improved digital connectivity across the borough. Our emerging Digital Strategy sets out our key priorities in this respect. Improved digital connectivity has an important role to play in reducing the need to travel by enabling us to lead more flexible and adaptable lifestyles, using fewer physical resources and benefiting the environment.