Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Pedestrians Association (IT 110)


  1. The Pedestrians Association welcomes the White Paper and the recognition, for the first time in such a policy document, that walking is:

    (a)  a form of transport in its own right,

    (b)  an essential part of many journeys by bus and train,

    (c)  a contributor to good health, and

    (d)  an aspect of living that includes nearly everybody.

  The Association would, however, like to draw the attention of the Select Committee to the following unresolved issues.

Speed control

  2. If walking in towns cities and villages is to be made safer and more comfortable, it is essential to reduce vehicle speeds. The higher the speed, the greater the threat and noise of traffic for people on foot. And the more serious the injury in collisions. Not surprisingly undue speed deters parents from allowing children to walk to school and explore their neighbourhoods. It is also a deterrent to walking for Britain's growing number of elderly people.

  3. The Association welcomes the announcement in the White Paper of a speed limit review and improved funding for speed cameras. But we believe that Britain ought also be developing automated speed control.

  4. The Swedish Government is spending US$9 million on experiments in four cities with "intelligent speed adaptation". Roadside beacons located at speed limit thresholds will engage the engine management systems of 5,000 experimentally modified vehicles—and slow them appropriately.

  5. The Government should promote related trials in Britain. One question to be asked is the comparative cost and effectiveness of traffic calming by highway engineering and by electronic speed management. Such an evaluation should look particularly at noise, gas emissions and fuel consumption.

  6. Trials of electronic speed adaptation would begin the vital task of preparing public opinion for more rigorous speed control; they would also hasten the day when speed is dependably controlled by day and night, in town streets and country lanes.

Safer routes to everywhere

  7. The Pedestrians Association welcomes the Government's commitment to improve the safety and comfort of walking to school. However it is just as important to have safe walking routes to the shops, the high street, the hospital, the football ground, the sports centre and other attractors of people. People walk everywhere—so safe routes are needed everywhere.

Designing cities and towns for walking

  8. "Places Streets and Movement", the DETR's newly published companion to Design Bulletin 32, sets out how the design of groups of houses should start by making them places for people and that access by cars should be subordinated to such a goal.

  9. The Millennium village at the Greenwich peninsula illustrates this kind of approach. Yet it will be divided from the adjacent Sainsbury's by a dual carriageway and a vast roundabout. This shows how traditional highway engineering still controls the design of major urban roads and creates places impassible by pedestrians.

  10. The objectives of the White Paper will not be delivered if main town roads continue to be designed in such ways. Research and trials are needed to identify new ways of designing main town roads so that they are not barriers to movement on foot.

Changing the culture of highway and traffic engineers

  11. The White Paper sets out a major change of direction for transport policy. But things will only begin to happen in a new way on the ground when there is a change of thinking amongst highway and traffic engineers. What is the Government doing to promote this change in culture? A White Paper daughter document on walking will be published in October (the Report of the National Walking Steering Group chaired by Glenda Jackson). And the IHT is producing a technical handbook on design for walking. We believe that more is needed.

Model towns that professionals can visit

  12. The DETR should mount a competition amongst local authorities to generate ideas for creating towns (or districts in towns) that are exemplary their friendliness for people on foot. The implementation of two or three winning entries should be by a partnership partly financed by DETR.

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Prepared 28 April 1999