Memorandum by the DETR Joint Cycling/Walking
Working Group: Professional Training and Information (WTC 17)
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
1.1 This submission is concerned primarily
with training issues raised in the committee's question: "Whether
the relevant professionals have the appropriate skills and training."
Other questions raised by the Committee are also answered in section
4 (below). The comments on these questions, however, are my own
and do not necessarily represent the views of the DETR Joint Cycling/Walking
1.2 We are all pedestrians. Walking is the
most sustainable mode of travel. Pedestrians are also the most
vulnerable of travellers.
1.3 Among the many important features of
the 1998 Transport White Paper is an increased commitment to encourage
walking as an everyday means of transport. Walking had been hitherto
a relatively neglected element of transport policy.
2. REMIT OF
THE DETR JOINT
2.1 The new emphasis on providing for walking
has important implications for professional training; to help
produce properly equipped professionals capable of knowing how
best to achieve quality provision for pedestrians.
2.2 To help address these new policy objectives,
in 1998 the DETR set up a Working Party to review the adequacy
of existing training and to make recommendations for changes.
Its Terms of Reference are:
To consider the training and technical
information needs of professionals engaged in providing for cyclists
and pedestrians; the incorporation of cycling and walking within
the wider development and planning processes; and the promotion
of cycling and walking issues, including conveying messages to
To propose actions that would improve
the range and quality of professional training;
To identify any significant gaps
in the flow of technical and professional knowledge.
2.3 The group's remit required us to review
the adequacy of existing training both for those starting out
on related professions like traffic engineering and town planning
and also for professionals already in the field who are now required
to take walking (and cycling) much more seriously.
3.1 The group concluded that it is essential
that senior officers in local government are aware of the need
to provide adequate infrastructure for walking as well as marketing
initiatives to promote walking.
3.2 We believe that it is essential that
walking issues are not divorced from other aspects of traffic
engineering and traffic management or urban design. It is essential
that walking and pedestrian matters be covered as part of an inter-disciplinary
approach to transport planning.
3.3 Not all of the skills and the full range
of knowledge will be vested in one person in an organisation.
Although many local authorities have a walking officer (these
responsibilities are often combined with other activities), and
some have an "access officer" (where the main responsibility
is to represent the transport needs of the mobility handicapped),
this can be a mixed blessing. Specialist knowledge within an organisation
is useful, but it can marginalise that knowledge. The aim should
be to encourage an understanding of the importance and the needs
of pedestrians (and cyclists), more widely within such organisations.
3.4 We concluded that the development of
specific analytical tools to investigate pedestrian behaviour
would be helpful in lifting the status of this group of professionals
within a design office. Modelling, evaluation, audit and level
of service review techniques can add to the "respectability"
with which pedestrians are viewed among those whose natural instinct
is often to focus on the motorised traveller.
3.5 A variety of skills are needed by transport
professionals working to improve conditions for pedestrians. These
include planning, design, management, maintenance, understanding
the special needs of those with mobility impairments and marketing
capabilities. In particular, professionals must understand the
significance of walking as a mode of travel. The working group
concluded that awareness of the knowledge and skills that are
required for those providing for pedestrians appears to be low.
3.6 Not only are there a large number of
universities and colleges involved in training professionals,
but also many different university departments cover walking issues.
As a result professionals in the field have a variety of training
backgrounds and qualifications.
3.7 There is a need for those who provide
higher education to ensure that walking issues are properly addressed
as core mandatory subjects in those courses of particular relevance.
These include: architecture; urban design; town and transportation
planning; civil; highway and traffic engineering.
3.8 The group also believed that there was
a need for potential employers (local authorities, central government,
pressure groups, consulting engineers and consultants, for examples)
to forge links with higher education institutions through the
professional bodies. Unfortunately this does not appear to be
happening at present. Improved linkages would lead to better identification
of training needs and skills development.
3.9 A fairer and more consistent means of
obtaining skills was thought to be necessary by the group. The
routes to professional qualifications should allow those from
non-traditional backgrounds to progress. The development of the
transportation National/Scottish Vocational Qualifications (N/SVQs)
may well prove to be beneficial but currently too little experience
of their application exists. N/SVQs cover various aspects of training
that relate to walking and pedestrian issues but which might be
expanded. Marketing of pedestrian facilities, for example new
routes, was seen by the groups to be a particular weakness.
3.10 A leaflet to make people aware of the
different routes available if pursuing a career providing for
walking and cycling has been prepared by the working group and
is soon to be published by DETR.
3.11 At the request of the working group,
research was commissions by DETR into the training undertaken
by professionals. The report, "Cycle Initiatives RegisterProfessional
Training Extension", included an assessment of the need for
education and vocational training for walking professionals as
well. (A Traffic Advisory Leaflet [TAL 10/99 Cycling Initiatives
Register] was also produced which was sent to all local authorities
and there was also an accompanying diskette available.) Further
research into the nature of education and training for walking
provision may be warranted.
3.12 Despite the existence of CPD (Continuing
Professional Development) courses, practitioners undertake little
training while in their employment. Many depend on publication
alone. Local authorities may not be able to allocate sufficient
resources to training and information gathering and professionals
therefore may be unaware of the information and guidance that
Information and guidance
3.13 Much information, guidance and advice
is available and the group prepared an extensive list of publications
covering policy, design guidance, disaggregated by type. This
is due to be placed on the National Cycling Forum's web site.
The problem appears to be that professionals suffer from "information
overload" and find it difficult to identify the most useful
and relevant sources of guidance from the vast number of publications
on the subject. As a result they may be unaware of recent developments.
This may change, however, with improved Internet access to information
Other Outputs of the Working Group
3.14 Three articles have been published
by the group: "Planning for Cycling and Walking: Improving
Professional Training", in Highways & Transportation
and Survey journals; "Mechanisms to Deliver Suitable Skills
Regarding Bicycles for Those Entering Cycle Planning/Engineering,
and to raise the Status of Those Already Working in This Area"
also in Highways & Transportation.
4. ANSWERS TO
4.1 The contribution of walking to the Urban
Renaissance, healthy living and reducing dependency on cars.
Towns and cities initially grew because they
were locations where people could easily congregate to do business
and trade. Movement was primarily on foot. As a result, the physical
environment of historic areas is often designed more towards travel
on foot than other modes. The role of walking in historic centres
as well as other urban areas should be developed.
4.2 In planning and designing urban areas
it must be recognised that pedestrians are not just travellersthey
are employers, employees, shoppers, customers and visitors, all
of whom contribute to the vitality of an urban area. Improving
the conditions for pedestrians should be seen as a pre-requisite
for urban regeneration. Not only is walking healthy exercise,
but it provides an alternative to car-use for shorter and multiple-link
trips. For example, some 20 minutes moderate exercise three times
a week can ward off obesity and heart disease. Walking is the
most sustainable mode of travel.
4.3 The reasons for the decline in walking
and the main obstacles to encouraging walking and increasing the
number of journeys made by foot
Walking has declined for a variety of reasons.
In its report Safety of Pedestrians and Cyclists in Urban Areas
(2000), the European Transport Safety Council pointed out there
are various safety issues that pedestrians are perceived to face
which are likely to discourage walking. These are:
vulnerability (vehicle strikes are
flexibility (it is difficult to predict
pedestrian behaviour which can increase the likelihood of accidents);
instability (any accident involving
a pedestrian will invariably mean injuries to that person);
invisibility (pedestrians are small
units compared to vehicles such as lorries);
differing abilities (pedestrian abilities
range from slow/infirm walkers to those who are brisk and confident);
consciousness of effort (reliance
on foot power encourages walkers to take short cuts which may
be dangerous); and
estrangement (pedestrians are made
to feel like strangers in the streetspace and are not made welcome).
4.4 What should be done to promote walking,
including the creation of the city squares, the role of pedestrianisation,
Home Zones, additional measures to restrain traffic, the harmonisation
of walking and public transport and improved safety and security
Promotion of walking as an everyday mode of
travel requires a range of initiatives including:
planning high quality routes for
pedestrians between the main generators of movement: schools,
colleges, hospitals, shops, sports stadia, leisure facilities,
public transport nodes and residential areas etc;
ensuring that all development plans
(eg UDPs, planning briefs etc) emphasise the development of sites
with easy access on foot;
giving priority to the location of
new developments at sites where they can be easily accessed on
designing developments to ensure
easy access/egress on foot;
adopting more city squares, pedestrianisation
of town centres and Home Zones to improve the urban environment;
designing the supporting highway
infrastructure (both links and junctions) to make walking safer
(for example by improving security) and easier by relating routes
to desire lines; and
introducing measures to reduce traffic
levels and vehicle speeds (such as traffic cells and traffic calming
4.5 What can be learnt from good practice
both in England and elsewhere?
Continental Europe has, for many years, planned
and designed urban areas with much greater emphasis on pedestrian
facilities than in the UK. This has been the case particularly
in Denmark, Sweden (although their facilities for those with mobility
impairments are less good) and the Netherlands (via their approach
to planning and location). Great emphasis has been placed on urban
design and the needs of pedestrians in Germany, for example in
Hennef, Bruhl and Buehl. Other places have also made significant
advances in providing much enhanced pedestrian facilities especially
where this is the dominant mode, notably Hong Kong and Singapore.
In England, notable improvements have been made in places such
as York, Birmingham, Borehamwood and Cambridge.
4.6 The key features of successful schemes
is in reducing the intrusion of vehicular traffic and in re-orienting
the priorities of road-space allocation towards pedestrians. Schemes
that are designed to support pedestrian desire lines and enhance
the physical environment are popular. Good design must be supplemented
by other measures to reduce traffic levels and speeds. Improving
the urban environment should not be directed exclusively at town
and city centres; much can be done to enhance the conditions for
pedestrians in other urban areas.
4.7 Encouraging walking must be central
to urban renaissance. In Australia, for example, the Living Neighbourhoods
concept uses a combination of community and transport planning
techniques to bring about long term behavioural change within
existing communities. Steer Davies Gleave has pioneered the technique.
The aim is to develop a culture of sustainability in a neighbourhood,
in addition to planning the physical design. A Living Neighbourhood
is a partnership between the people who use the neighbourhood
and those who provide the services and facilities. The results
so far are very encouraging. Within three suburban areas of Adelaide,
car trips have been reduced by between 10-21 per cent while walking
and cycling trips have risen by between six per cent to 21 per
cent while walking and cycling trips have risen by between six
per cent to 40 per cent.
4.8 Whether the relevant professionals have
the appropriate skills and training.
See sections two and three above.
4.9 Whether all Government Departments,
their agencies, including the Highways Agency, and local authorities
are taking appropriate measures, and in particular whether Local
Transport Plans, PPG 13 and the Government Paper, Encouraging
Walking are adequate.
Government departments are required to prepare
Travel Plans for their employees. This will, over time, encourage
greater access by employees and visitors on foot. In addition,
Steer Davies Gleave has recently prepared new guidance for the
DETR on Transport Assessment for Development Proposals to support
the forthcoming revised PPG13, which will encourage the location
and design of developments to make access on foot easier.
4.10 In general, it is uncertain whether
the Full LTPs (for Local Walking Strategies) published last July
give sufficient encouragement to the promotion of walking. It
will be essential, therefore, that the government continues to
emphasise the vital role that walking plays in daily life and
the need to plan and provide better facilities in order to encourage
4.11 In particular, whether greater priority
should be given to measures to promote walking, including a greater
share of the Government budget and the re-allocation of road space.
If walking is to be encouraged it must form
a much more central role in transport policy at both the national
and local level. This will require:
allocating greater funding for improvements
to pedestrian facilities within budgets, especially maintaining
funding of high quality demonstration
giving priority to pedestrians in
the allocation of road space where they are the dominant mode;
encouraging the implementation of
Travel Plans to encourage behavioural change, possibly by tax
4.12 Whether national targets should be
set and a National Strategy published.
A National Walking Strategy could provide purpose
and direction for policy. It could strengthen the focus on, and
commitment to, practical actions to improve conditions for pedestrians.
Targets for casualty reduction certainly galvanised professionals
to work together to deliver improvements. However, in terms of
targets for walking, it is questionable whether existing dataat
national and local levelare sufficiently robust to permit
meaningful targets to be set and monitored. If targets are set
they should be of modal shift rather than absolute levels of walking.
These could form part of the Local Transport Plan monitoring process.
According to the National Travel Survey 80 per
cent of trips under one mile are on foot while walking accounts
for 27 per cent of all journeys (by length).
Walking accounts for 12 per cent of commuting
journeys; 30 per cent of shopping trips; and 16 per cent of leisure
The importance of walking as a mode of travel
is not reflected in the importance given to it in transport planning
and in road-space allocation.
The training of professionals understates the
importance that should be accorded to the provision of better
conditions for pedestrians.
Providing for pedestrians should be undertaken
within a holistic approach to traffic management and urban renaissance.
Walking is the most sustainable mode of travel
and should be encouraged.