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

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 640 - 646)




  640. Is that in relation to the amount of men and women walking in the streets, is it per walk?
  (Mr Whitby) What is Wrong with Walking produced by the Consumer Association in 1984 identified that more women walked than men yet more men suffered from pedestrian accidents than women.

  Mrs Dunwoody: I told you.


  641. What evidence is there that if you actually have a higher quality urban design and better management of streets people will walk more?
  (Mr Whitby) I think little, other than to see those streets when they are well designed and see how they are occupied and the density to which they are occupied. I recently finished a footbridge in York which provided a new arterial route for pedestrians and cyclists, it is thronging with people. Good design solves problems, it opens up opportunities for people.

  642. It make may make it more enjoyable for people to walk and it may draw people from other routes on to those, but what evidence is there in York as a result of that bridge that people are now walking more than they were before?
  (Mr Whitby) I think we could prove in that location they are walking more. I believe that unless one has done statistical studies before and after it is a difficult issue. I think we could prove it. Pedestrians are not measured as traffic is measured. There are people, such as Bob Hillier from City University, who do commuter models showing how pedestrians move and how new initiatives will improve pedestrian movement. It can be shown that by unlocking a few blockages a flow occurs and as a result the densities increase, particularly in a place like London.

  643. Right. We have examples in the United States and Australia where people manage to avoid walking altogether, might that not be a better approach?
  (Mr Whitby) I think their towns and cities are very different to us and their space that they have available to use is quite different to ours.

  644. The weather tends to be nicer.
  (Mr Whitby) That is also true, to some extent. It also tends to be a lot worse in terms of America, to the extent that in some locations it is impossible to walk.

  645. How important is it really for us to try and encourage people to walk more?
  (Mr Whitby) We all know that it is essential that we work towards making it possible for people to enjoy their space. The issues is about social inclusivity, not everyone has the opportunity of other forms of transport. All of us walk to an extent. Everybody could and would enjoy walking more.
  (Mr Sellers) If we look at the idea of a more sustainable development, where people can live in the town centre and they can walk to facilities quite close to them rather than living further away. You also have to look at the quality of design on the streets, so that the actual interface between buildings and the street is a much more pleasurable experience for people to actually walk, rather than walk along a dead frontage which does nothing for the interface.

  646. You are raising two issues, one is if you have much more joined-up living within urban areas people would walk rather more, I understand that argument. You are also saying if the spaces were more attractive people would still be happy to walk between different locations. Which is the more important, getting the buildings in the right places so the distances are reasonable or getting the space so they are attractive to walk?
  (Mr Whitby) The latter is more important. We have a legacy about the space here at the moment in terms of our buildings. The majority of our environment exists as it is. What we have to do is start working with the spaces in between buildings and make them better.

  Chairman: On that note, thank you very much for your evidence.

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