Memorandum by The Institute of Logistics
and Transport (WTC 11)
WALKING IN TOWN AND CITIES
The Director of Policies at the Institute of
Logistics and Transport has overall responsibility for the development
of policy for the Institute, including the brokering of policy
responses to Government and other bodies. He has worked in both
local government and private sector consultancy for 11 years prior
to taking up this appointment in September 2000.
He has worked on pedestrian and access projects
since 1992, including the development of the Pedestrian Policy
for the Avon Area (1995) and training of planning, transport and
highways professionals on pedestrian and access auditing. He has
spoken at engineering and planning conferences on walking promotion
and access auditing, and was co-opted onto the infrastructure
Sub-Group of the original National Walking Strategy Working Group.
He has also worked as a specific Pedestrian and Disability Issues
officer and as Team Leader covering sustainable transport in Bristol.
Contribution of Walking to Urban Life
The role of walking in relation to the development
and continued renaissance of town and city centres should not
be underestimated. Cities such as Birmingham have successfully
demonstrated that radical remodelling of a city centre environment
can provide much improved access for all sectors of the community,
improve the quality of its retail and commercial core, and provide
opportunities for leisure and relaxation in public squares and
spaces. It also gives a clear message that the legacy of "predict
and provide" for the motorist is no longer tenable, and the
removal of segregated crossings and underpasses is a clear way
of achieving this.
Whether a trip is made entirely on foot, or
as part of a more complex trip chain, the role of the pedestrian
part of the trip chain has in the past been neglected, and only
in the past five to 10 years have we really seen more focused
attention on this.
In terms of reliance on the private car, one
of the underlying messages of the Government's Ten Year Plan is
to encourage people to think more about the necessity of the journey,
and the modes which they use. Evidence from towns and cities,
particularly where there is a ring road serving easy access to
its centre (eg Bristol) has suggested that the difficulties with
the pedestrian stage of the journey can often make people switch
to other modes for the whole of their journey. Therefore, whether
as part of longer trip chains, or as a local walk trip, provision
of investment in the pedestrian environment is vital to ensure
that this transport mode can properly play its role in the delivery
of the strategic Ten Year Plan.
The Main Barriers and Obstacles to Promoting and
Increasing Pedestrian Trips
There are both quantitative and qualitative
factors which affect the attractiveness of walking. Research carried
out in Bristol during 1995-98 is symptomatic of the kind of problems
that local authorities face when attempting to increase the number
of walk trips.
Quantitative; for example:
Walking trips can be difficult to
assess because of their dispersed nature and unidentified "suppressed
demand" for missing links.
The number of physical barriers encountered
on any journey, from short-term problems (eg poor maintenance,
overhanging vegetation, and missing signs) through to long term
problems (eg missing pedestrian links, busy main roads); assessed
by comprehensive access auditing.
Investment will, by necessity be
focused on key corridors into city and suburban centres, schools,
hospitals and other community foci, not "from the door".
Qualitative, for example:
Personal safety and security on routes.
Personal understanding of the route
and legibility of signing and waymarking to the individual.
The ambience and sense of place through
which the pedestrian passes.
The perceived inconvenience of walking
including weather and delay risk factors.
To overcome these barriers, it is necessary
to develop a "universal design" approach to the improvement
of the pedestrian environment, which is inclusive of all members
of society. Rather than merely identify and remove barriers, opportunities
need to be taken to provide design solutions which take careful
account of physical construction, signing, routing and other factors
which would lead to increased use of the pedestrian environment.
Particular attention should be given to the quality of town centre
pedestrianised areas, and public transport interchanges, and the
quality of links leading to these destinations.
Measures needed to promote walking
During the past five years many local authorities
have already taken up the challenge to develop their own Pedestrian
Strategies and work programmes that reflect the increased emphasis
on walking. Ranging from very comprehensive technical documents,
through to more straightforward statements of policy, the "Encouraging
Walking" guidance from the DETR brought together best practice
and advice into a clear summary document. However, the key issue
remains the level of resources needed to realise an effective
and user-friendly pedestrian network, that often cuts across a
wide number of local authority budgets, making delivery difficult.
The appointment of a number of Pedestrian Officers
within local authorities has helped to keep the profile of walking
higher than would have been the case, but unless the views of
this professional are truly recognised by other parts of the organisation,
there is a risk that overall issue can become sidelined and lose
Promotion of walking falls into two categories:
those that are information, publicity and campaign based, and
those that are levered on investment in the pedestrian environment.
To deliver longer term modal increase and sustained walking patterns
in the UK, the latter is more effective as long as the revenue
is protected to keep new and upgraded infrastructure maintained.
Local authorities also need greater powers,
for example beyond the 20 mph speed limits and Home Zone pilots,
to create pedestrian priority zones within town centres and legislative
changes to enable a more effective response to the needs of pedestrians
within the context of Local Transport Plan programmes.
There is still a need to bring together a comprehensive
guide of best practice for practitioners in the pedestrian environment.
A number of professional institutes and bodies have produced guidance
on different aspects of access and mobility but this needs drawing
together into one coherent "Pedestrian Digest" that
allows practitioners to grasp and develop the design and technical
assessment methods that work well. Bringing together of pedestrian
audit methodologies into one common audit is another area which
is considered vital to securing best value in pedestrian projects.
The setting of national targets and the publication
of a National Walking Strategy are still considered essential.
From experience, many local authorities awaited the trigger of
the original draft NWS to start to develop their own policies
and plans, in the same way as the National Cycling Strategy. Whilst
authorities have now embarked on their own pedestrian projects,
the establishment of a clear national policy does assist in keeping
the walking issue high on the technical professional and technical
agenda. Whereas the pedestrian environment features heavily in
other specific projects such as safer routes to school, travel
plans, and in public transport, traffic management investment,
the energy and dynamism needed to re-push investment for the pedestrian
(and in particular disabled people) requires direction at central
The issue of targets and monitoring may be more
difficult to develop, because of the variety of trip purposes
for pedestrians, and the accurate identification of trips, which
are components of complex trip chains. Whilst modelling of pedestrian
behaviour within confined study areas has been successfully developed,
strategic pedestrian modelling is more complex and could prove
problematic if all local authorities had to assess pedestrian
movement to this level. Which regions should bear the greatest
responsibility for modal shift to walking would also be a key
The role of Government in delivering Successful
The test for Government in terms of successful
delivery of pedestrian measures is to keep the role and positioning
of walking high on the transport agenda. At central, regional
and local government level quality work has been carried out in
terms of guidance, experimental measures and dissemination of
best practice, but it still lacks an overall coherence and importance
in the same way as other strategies and policy directives. Consequently
this can mean that the importance of walking projects can become
eroded at the local level and fail to win resources because of
other competing projects. For example, in the mid 1990s budgets
for pedestrian projects in the Avon area began to reflect the
level of investment needed in walking to change travel behaviour
(when nationally it was developing as a strong issue) but investment
has fallen away in relative terms since then.
This also means that the funding mechanisms
for benefiting the pedestrian environment need to be further simplified,
mainly because of the multiple local authority budgets that pedestrian
projects come from (public rights of way, park and leisure, traffic
management, highway maintenance, pedestrianisation) and the ability
to attract major capital funding for a comprehensive pedestrian
strategy through public sector borrowing.
The need for increased skills and training within
This is the area which requires the most focused
and urgent attention. The skills and professional abilities needed
to plan effectively and inclusively for the pedestrian are not
consistent nationally, and are too often dependent on selected
individuals being involved in the design process. The recruitment
of local authority pedestrian officers to focus on policy and
design issues has been a positive step forward, but also relies
to the standard to which they can train and support others in
the organisation to "think pedestrian". Problems have
occurred when the level of appointment has meant that they carry
little weight, or promotion of the pedestrian point of view relies
key personalities in the organisation that are sympathetic to
Training has been delivered through in-house
and outsourced methods, but again this has not promoted a national
minimum standard. Consequently the physical appearance of schemes
on the ground has been variable. This is compounded by the lack
of universal design standards for pedestrian and highway access
There is a clear role for professional institutes
to continue to work together with Government to consolidate the
methods and best practice to date, and to distil the material
into a meaningful toolkit that will enable the implementation
of a coherent National Strategy at local level. This will hopefully
sustain longer-term interest and commitment to walking-based projects,
not in isolation, but integrated with other transport schemes
that will strongly rely on the walking element for their success.
Director of Policies