Memorandum by M R Jackson (WTC 06)
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
1. SCOPE OF
In spite of its title, I hope the inquiry will
also consider walking in villages. Ability to walk safely is a
key concern in responding to any "Walk to School" initiative
I believe it should be a UK human right that:
All can walk in safety and comfort from their
homes, to access the facilities of their own and nearby cities,
towns or villages.
To realise this there should be six aims:
Aim 1To provide, in every
street and highway in any built-up area, a footway of adequate
width, segregated from the carriageway or cycleway by a protective
kerb, and illuminated at night.
Aim 2To ensure there is a
paved footway to sufficient highways, so that people can walk
safely, and reasonably directly, between centres of population.
Aim 3To maintain on all footways
a smooth and clean surface.
Aim 4To reserve all footways
and pedestrian zones for pedestrian use, without any fear of contact
or harassment by wheeled vehicles, other than those of children
under 12 and the disabled.
Aim 5To ensure that permanent
street furniture and other items placed on the footway allow adequate
space for pedestrians to move without restriction, including those
with prams and pushchairs.
Aim 6To provide convenient
facilities for pedestrians to cross the carriageway safely, and
with no more delay to them than to vehicles.
To realise this right and its aims, three basic
measures should be:
Measure 1To require highway
authorities to collect and publish data on performance in respect
of compliance with Aims 1 to 6.
Measure 2To provide specific
government funding for footways.
Measure 3To educate and support
officers with statutory authority in the enforcement of Aim 4,
and of Aim 5 in respect of moveable objects placed in the footway
or pedestrian zones.
3. COMMENTS ON
3.1 Healthy living and reduced car dependence
Walking, as the primary method for short journeys
and as a component of longer ones, is a habit learnt in early
years. That is why any "Walk to School" campaign must
be backed with funds to remove the obstaclespamphlets and
other media are not enough.
Public transport should be adequate to allow
walking as a part of all journeys.
3.2 Decline in Walking
Obviously, an answer to the decline in walking
is "because the car is there and it keeps you warm and dry".
Also many people live busier lives (not necessarily profitably
so) than 50 years ago. Even a short journey on a fine day may
not be walked because of lack of time. Schedules become based
on the assumption of a short car journey. As an example, at a
village church half the congregation will have driven less than
a mile to arrive in time.
3.3 Obstacles to Walking
There are many obstacles to comfortable walking
due to the limited obstruction free width, and the condition of
the footway; street lighting and road signs always restrict the
footway, never the carriageway. However, the main obstacle to
walking at all is where there is no footway.
Many villages have grown from 300 to 3,000 population
in the last 70 years. The number of vehicles on the main road
within villages will have increased at least fifty-fold. The village
lane has become a highway. But local authorities have lacked either
the will, or the funds to provide these lanes with footways. In
my village, there are nearly 1,000 yards of road without footway,
along which children might otherwise walk to school. The local
authority response is that there must be a serious accident before
a footway can be funded.
Thus, most parents drive their children to school,
making the road less safe for the few who walk. A transport pattern
for life is thereby cast in young minds!
3.4 Promoting Walking / Good Practice Elsewhere
A key problem with promoting walking is the
modern dispersion of facilities and the multi-activity journey.
For example, the journey to the office may collect groceries on
the way home and may also stop for a session at the gym. By foot
and bus, such an itinerary would be tortuous and very expensive
in many towns.
The fare-stage structure of bus pricing in the
1950s, with substantial return discount, was suitable for the
single purpose journey. In the last 20 years, short journeys have
been given much higher costs per mile and return discounts are
negligible, exacerbating the cost of a multi-stage journey. A
totally new UK concept of bus pricing, related to timeas
in many other countries, will be required to encourage less use
of cars, and instead the foot and bus journey.
3.5 Relevant Skills and Training?
Little skill is needed to build a footway, or
clear a footway of both fixed and moveable obstructions. What
is lacking is will and money. At present, cycling appears to be
the government "flavour of the decade". All local authority
transport design effort is devoted to this.
When the major companies forced most local authorities
out of the bus market, the skills in public transport also went.
Thus, for example, when a town is due to build a new bus station,
no one has any idea how to relate the number and type of stands
to potential traffic, how best to arrange them, or how much passenger
space to provide. It is built for operator convenience only. Such
an approach inhibits integrated transport. This lack of knowledge
should be addressed. Highway authorities should be required to
have a pedestrian officer.
3.6 Appropriateness of Government Action
What "cash strapped" local authority
officer would spend much time considering the issues raised in
Encouraging Walking? Whilst it has lots of good ideas,
there was no significant means offered to implement them; nor
is any performance reporting required by the paper.
There should be a National Walking Strategy,
starting along the lines of the Preamble in this memorandum. Transport
plans submitted to DETR should include walking-related performance