Memorandum by Harry Baxter Esq (WTC 04)
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
I am greatly encouraged by the fact that the
ETRAC are considering the issue of "Walking in Towns &
Cities" and by the Reports by the DETR regarding Transport
and Walking Strategies during the year 2000.
For a Government to consider discouraging private
car use and encourage walking is a very bold step and one to be
commended, though I fear not a strategy that is readily going
to be accepted by the majority of motorists, for this reason I
believe the Government DETR has got to take a very broad perspective
to "Walking in Towns & Cities" An Holistic Approach,
emphasising the benefits to Mental & Physical health and well-being,
a greater awareness and rapport will ensure a greater awareness
and concern for our environment.
Also I believe Government has got to communicate
to the public the absolute necessity to curtail car use as the
dominant mode of transport over Walking and Public Transport,
not just for Regional and National benefit but for Global benefits.
Communicating and winning this argument is essential if any Walking
Strategy is to succeed.
For the above reasons I do not believe the ETR
Affairs Committee should consider the subject of walking separately
from many other issues such as law enforcement which has developed
over the last 50 years to treat the main form of Transport as
the car, as a consequence, the "Bobby on the Beat" has
been replaced by the Bobby in the car, we cannot aim to encourage
Walking without considering many issues analogous to the above
For many years pedestrian issues have been neglected,
footpaths closed or been allowed to become so neglected they have
become neglected and unusable.
Local Government resources have been directed
to highway issues and catering to the needs of the motorist at
the expense of pedestrian issues, to suddenly change direction
in favour of the pedestrian, appears an awesome, if not impossible
task for Local Authorities, Highway Departments and Engineers,
not accustomed to considering Pedestrian Issues.
New appointments of "Walking Officers"
by Local Authorities would be paramount to the success of any
National Walking initiative.
The motorist is a strong lobby and any attempt
to discourage them will be very unpopular, especially at the ballot
box if the issue is allowed to become Party Political. For this
reason I would humbly presume to suggest to Government that the
importance of the issue of discouraging car use and encouraging
walking, even if it be for only short journeys, should be strongly
communicated to the public and the consequences of a failure to
implement such a strategy could/would be catastrophic to the National
and Global Environment.
As a pedestrian who has never learnt to drive
a car and in my late 50s, I would also like to express to the
ETR Affairs Committee the pleasure and benefits of walking.
A pedestrian is automatically closer to his
environment and consequently more aware of it and hopefully more
concerned for it. Generations are growing up detached from their
environment, hardly capable of walking or walking far, so used
are they to literally travelling everywhere by car, walking is
looked upon as a drag, a bind to be avoided, so that even the
shortest journey is undertaken by car.
Even in the urban environment, Definite Rights
of Way Footpaths exist, during the last 30 years these valuable
assets have been neglected, even closed, any walking strategy
must take into account that it would be compensating for years
of neglect. I believe we should be showing people that walking
can be pleasurable, educational and healthy.
So many people attend health clubs arriving
and departing in their cars, whereas walking to and from the Health
Club would have as much if not more health benefits than all the
activity within a health club, with the knowledge that walking
is a natural exercise and cheaper.
I wish the Committee every success in its endeavours
in their enquiry into Walking in Towns and Cities and that a determined
and practical national strategy is produced to encourage walking
and as far as is practicable to discourage car use.