Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by Rita Chadha and Richard Bolt (WTC 38)


  As dedicated urban walkers we welcome the opportunity to make a submission to this inquiry. We would draw your attention specifically to the following points that you may wish to consider.

  First and foremost there needs to be a distinction drawn between walking with purposeful intent (ie to work or shopping) and walking as a leisure activity.

Walking with purposeful intent—walking to work or the shops

  Integrated transport system—walking is very often a component in any journey, but is more often than not ignored in integrated transport proposals. It may therefore be worth considering alternatives to traditional schemes for example Park and Walk.

  Mileage allowances—as an inducement to walking to work companies and businesses could offer mileage allowances based upon walking, as some already do for bicycles.

Walking for Leisure

  Walking for leisure need not be restricted to green spaces such as parks. Although urban walkers will not experience the same levels of tranquillity or natural beauty as in more rural spaces, urban areas resonate with histories and cultures. These can be harnessed in innovate ways to create walks ie Heritage trails—as in Discover Stratford in East London; Poetry trails as in Romford, Essex, Art Installations in Nottingham and Green Street, East London.

  In addition the following may be of particular interest in terms of incorporating Walking in Towns and Cities as part of joined up thinking/working. They have for the sake of convenience been grouped together as thematics.


  Neighbourhood Renewal—in any urban areas, the isolation and alienation felt by residents in public spaces could be alleviated by the promotion of walking, and in so doing help to foster community/civic pride. In addition the promotion of walking would also serve to create awareness of the use of public spaces. If encouraged by schools, walking can provide to be an inducement to promote active citizenship, and could amongst certain sections of the community ie ethnic communities limiting the fear induced by no go areas.

  Healthy Living—the obvious benefits of walking as a form of exercise are greatly underestimated. If actively promoted by schools it can encourage the development of a healthy lifestyle and may alleviate growing levels of obesity amongst young people, walking would be particularly useful to sports shy young people.

  Environment—reducing pollution levels via reducing car journeys would have obvious benefits for the environment.

Barriers to Walking

  None of the above are however feasible without recourse to address the following barriers:

    —  Community safety—women may be fearful of walking in unfamiliar areas and at certain times of the day, most obviously but not exclusively at night. Other times may include when large gatherings occur ie colleges at the end of the day. Young people are often mindful of "stranger danger" as well as road safety and as such are often shielded from walking most classically via the school run. In both cases such barriers could be limited by group walking.

    —  Pavement Road maintenance—residents especially the elderly need to feel secure and comfortable, and are unable and unlikely to actively take up walking in areas where local authorities have failed to adequately maintain pavements. In addition high curbs and poor signage are also a hindrance to those with physical and sensory disabilities.

    —  Poor Drainage—the failure to provide adequate surface run off results in pools of water being formed which are a menace to all walkers especially where vehicles meet these pools at speed.

  In order to actively encourage walking:

    —  More money from transport schemes needs to be ring fenced for walking and its active promotion.

    —  Regeneration and town planning schemes need to include as part of both geographical and thematic bids the advantages of walking and provide a regular audit of walking promotion.

    —  All new transport schemes should include an audit of the impact that any changes or additions would have on walking.

    —  Whilst money is obviously important, walking can be successfully promoted as part of existing schemes by innovative and strategic partnership working.

January 2001

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