Memorandum by the Centre for Technology
Strategy (WTC 20)
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
1. TRAVEL BY
A lot of travel is within walking distances:
A fifth of all trips could be walked in 15 minutes. (29 per cent
of journeys are under one mile; a further 16 per cent are of one
to two miles.)
Although walking constitutes only 3 per cent
of the total mileage travelled it is a very important mode in
terms of access. This is reflected in the proportion of journeys
undertaken by foot alone; 28 per cent of journeys are undertaken
by foot, with another 2 per cent by bicycle. This proportion varies
from a combined walk and bicycle total of 34 per cent in London,
an average of 30-33 per cent in all other urban areas and 24 per
cent in rural areas. In addition to this, walking is also a key
subsidiary mode for motorised travel (accounting for 36 per cent
of journey stages in the National Travel Survey).
Walk/cycle trips are a particularly large proportion
of education (49 per cent), leisure (34 per cent) and shopping
(34 per cent) trips. Only 15 per cent of work trips and 11 per
cent of in course of work trips are walked or cycled.
WALK AND CYCLE TRIPS
|Per person per year
||% of all journeys
|Escort to Education||24
Source: National Travel Survey 1994-96.
2. THE DECLINE
The amount of walking has declined by a third in the last
15 years. The National Travel Survey indicates the drop has been
greatest in smaller urban areas and large provincial cities. In
the 10 years 1985-86 to 1994-96 walk trips dropped by 14 per cent
overall, but 16-20 per cent in towns of three-100,000 people and
the provincial cities. It dropped less (10-14 per cent) in large
towns (over 100,000 people) and in London. In rural areas, walk
trips increased slightly.
In consequence there is now no relationship between the proportion
of walk trips and settlement size. Some large urban areas have
near-rural levels of pedestrian trips (West Midlands being an
CHANGE IN WALK/BIKE TRIPS 1985-86 TO 1995-96
|London||11 per cent drop
|Metropolitan areas||16 per cent drop
|Other urban areas:||
| over 250k||14 per cent drop
| 100>250k||10 per cent drop
| 25>100k||20 per cent drop
| 3>25k||17 per cent drop
|Rural areas||4 per cent rise
Walk trips to work declined by 35 per cent in the 10 years
1986-96 and educational walk trips dropped by 26 per cent. Shopping
trips are down by 17 per cent and leisure by 9 per cent.
"HOT SPOTS" OF DECLINE IN WALK/BIKE TRIPS
| ||1985-86 Trips per person a year
||1994-96 Trips per person a year
|Escort to Education||18
Source: National Travel Survey 1994-96.
3. WALKING AND
A surprisingly small proportion of current walkable trips
are undertaken by car. 11 per cent of journeys under one mile
are undertaken as a car/van driver and a further 7 per cent as
a passenger. Education escort trips appear to be an important
element of the shorter car trips. Research by Black, (1997) found
that 84 per cent of parents driving pupils to infant schools said
they could undertake the trip on foot.
WALK'S SHARE OF SHORT TRIPS, 1985-86 AND 1997-99
Source: National Travel Survey 1985-86 and 1997-99.
4. STRATEGIES TO
Although local physical problems of walking are important
(eg in What's Wrong with Walking, in Northern Ireland 74
per cent of people said they had problems of walking due to traffic,
poor or badly designed paths, etc) the root cause of the decline
in walking is not that a lot of short trips are shifting to car,
but that fewer short trips are made. There are simply less trips
within walkable distances.
PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF JOURNEY LENGTHS, 1978-79 TO
| ||Under 1 mile
||100 miles and over
Source: National Travel Surveys.
Factors leading to a general lengthening of trips are the
major cause of walking's decline. For example, the walk trip to
local shops is being replaced by a four mile car trip to the city-edge
megastore; the walk trip to a local school is substituted by a
five mile ferrying by parents to another school as all the local
places were taken up by other parents ferrying their children
to the local school. The core factors causing the decline of walk
trips needs to be addressed at this strategic transport policy
level as well as providing local specific measures to ensure the
walking environment is attractive for short trips.
If one-third of all trips within walkable distance continue
to be replaced by longer car trips there is massive potential
for further traffic generation. Stemming trip lengthening and
moving to reduce trip lengths is vital.
The effect of increasing trip lengths was a key neglected
factor in the Transport Policy White Paper, which placed emphasis
on modal switch. Without addressing the trip lengthening problem,
walk trips will continue to decline; furthermore, any environmental
and congestion-reducing benefits of modal switch will simply be
swallowed up within general traffic growth.
Realising the potential of walking requires addressing both
"sufficient" factors (largely the local physical provision
of a good walking environment) and "necessary" factors
(structural transport, land use and social aspects). Although
improving the local walking environment could win back some motorised
trips from more distant locations, this is only part of making
walking a more viable option.
To date, policy for walking tends to place emphasis on local
physical provision. This includes the consideration of walking
in the Transport White Paper. Once structural "necessary"
factors are considered, the nature of walking policy changes significantly.
Walking needs to become a key part of land use policies and economic
measures to reduce transport's environmental impacts.
Black, Colin (1997): Psycho-social Obstacles to Behaviour
Modification: the Journey to School. Universities Transport
Studies Group Conference Papers, vol 3.
Potter, Stephen (1995): The passenger trip length "surge".
Transport Planning Systems, Vol 3 No 1,pp 7-15.
Potter, Stephen (1997) Vital Travel Statistics, Landor,
Noble, Barbara and Potter, Stephen (1998): Travel patterns
and journey purpose, Transport Trends, pp 3-14, The Stationery
DETR (1998): Transport Statistics Report: National Travel
Survey 1994-96. The Stationery Office.
DETR (2000): Transport Statistics Bulletin: National Travel
Survey 1997-99, Transport Statistics, DETR.
Centre for Technology Strategy
Faculty of Technology
The Open University