Memorandum by Angela J Thomson (WTC 63)
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
By having more areas especially of the inner
cities accessible mainly by foot rather than by motor vehicles
such as walkways next to rivers and canals similar to the Netherlands.
Making streets more attractive by planting and
maintaining appropriate trees and shrubs which will give great
pleasure to the pedestrian and other road users.
An area which is clean and tidy will be more
likely to stay that way. No one likes walking through litter strewn
streets with broken paving slabs ready to trip up the unwary.
In winter pavements should be gritted as well
as roads so that pedestrians can walk safety.
Walking regularly does contribute to better
health. I did suffer from diverticulitis and now rarely get it
as I try to walk at least one mile a day, often much more. If
I do not do any walking for a few days it usually returns. Despite
arthritis in both feet I enjoy walking most of the time but especially
away from motorists and cyclists.
Walking is quite reasonable for journeys of
two miles or less as the journey can be fairly accurately timed
which is not true of journeys by any other mode.
Perhaps instead of car allowances, employers
could provide allowances for wet weather clothing!
Apart from the availability of personal transport
such as motor cars, lack of time is a major reason for the decline
in walking. Noise, pollution and danger from both motor vehicles
and pedal cyclists are other reasons.
Walking is regarded as unimportant by planners
at all levels and by the police. Many pedestrians are put off
walking because cyclists have taken over the pavements and footpaths.
Locally a young girl received serious head injuries as a result
of being knocked down by a cyclist riding on the pavement and
other serious injuries have been reported via the letters pages
in local newspapers. Police seem to regard the offence of cycling
on pavements as trivial and I have asked Essex Police for statistics
of arrests but I have received none to date.
Another reason is the lack of road signs for
walkers to say the railway station but motor vehicle drivers get
plenty of signs usually taking up pavement space.
Many pedestrian crossings are placed so as the
pedestrian cannot take the most direct route. The timing of crossings
are usually too short even for the young and able bodied to cross
at a normal walking pace.
At night pavements are often poorly lit with
street lights shining onto the roads while being located on the
Pedestrianisation usually encourages more shoppersa
recent suggestion by a Chelmsford Borough Council Councillor to
allow cycling in the pedestrianised High Street led to protests
by the Chamber of Commerce and letters against the idea in the
Would Home Zones encourage more walking by those
wedded to the motor car?
Road humps and chicanes while they will slow
vehicles are unpopular and uncomfortable for bus passengers. 20
mile an hour zones adequately policed may make a differencehaving
vehicles designed to travel well at low speeds would be even better.
The lack of road signs for pedestrians to railway
stations has already been mentioned. Often there is a lack of
signs to other places as well such as Tourist Information Offices,
bus stations, local goverment offices, places of entertainment,
shopping centres and hospitals. Where signs exist sometimes they
point in the wrong direction as they are too easy for vandals
to twist round.
The arrest of cyclists for cycling on the pavement
and harassing pedestrians by shouting, swearing and even spitting
at them for daring to not get out of their way would do much to
At night most pedestrians feel safer walking
beside a busy main road than a quiet poorly lit alley.
Some places such as Zermatt, Switzerland and
Sark, Channel Islands sell themselves as traffic free to tourists
though neither example is completely free of vehicles.
Perhaps there could be new towns built where
private cars are not allowed and public transport is within a
mile of every building so that the inhabitants would need to walk
to get anywhere.
It appears that very few planners or police
walk anywhere! There is a prevailing culture that anyone on wheels
including skateboarders and wheelchair users are better than anyone
who uses their feet.
It would need not just the education of new
recruits to these professionals but the re-education of existing
members of staff. Anyone planning a new pavement or footpath should
be made to walk the proposed route before it is set in concrete.
The police need to take the concerns of pedestrians
seriously especially as regards arresting cyclists and making
sure they are named in the local press.
In the past, walking seems to have been virtually
ignored despite the claim in "Encouraging Walking" that
"walking accounts for more than 25 per cent of all journeys
and for some 80 per cent of journeys less than one mile".
The advice in "Encouraging Walking" is sound but there
seems to be no statutory obligation to provide better facilities
for pedestriansperhaps there should be.
The draft of Chelmsford Borough Council's "Transportation
Strategy" devoted two paragraphs out of 40 pages to walkingthat
is not enough.
There is a need for local authorities to create
new walking routes. There should be a standard size of pavement
so that two can walk side by side or pass one another. Street
furniture should not be on the pavement if it is not relevant
All urban roads should have pavements on both
sides. Pavements should be maintained and repaired regularly.
Those erecting scaffolding to build or repair buildings must create
a temporary path to allow pedestrians to continue their journey.
Having a notice saying "pedestrians cross here" on a
busy road with no crossing place in the vicinity is not acceptable.
Walking does seem to be the cinderella of travelling
modes possibly as it is perceived to be done solely by the poor,
the elderly and the unwaged and therefore not meriting spending
public money on.
Perhaps a league table of the most pedestrian
friendly local authorities with some sort of prize would help.
If a national strategy is published it needs to be well publicised
and well known figures especially top politicians should be seen
to walk as an everyday thing not just as an occasional PR stunt.