Memorandum by Rita Chadha and Richard
Bolt (WTC 38)
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
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 intentwalking to
work or the shops
Integrated transport systemwalking 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 allowancesas 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
trailsas 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 Renewalin 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 Livingthe 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
Environmentreducing pollution levels
via reducing car journeys would have obvious benefits for the
Barriers to Walking
None of the above are however feasible without
recourse to address the following barriers:
Community safetywomen 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 maintenanceresidents
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 Drainagethe 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
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.