Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 318 - 319)




  318. Gentlemen, I welcome you to the committee. Perhaps you would identify yourselves for the record.
  (Mr Palmer) I am Derek Palmer and I work for Steer Davies Gleave, but I am here in my capacity as Chairman of the DETR Joint Cycling/Walking Group for the training of professionals.
  (Mr Roberts-James) I am Carlton Roberts-James, Director of Technical Affairs at the Institution of Highways and Transportation.

  319. Does either witness want to say anything by way of introduction?
  (Mr Palmer) Chairman, I welcome the inquiry. Possibly this is the first time that the committee has looked at walking as a serious mode of transport. Too often walking tends to be reviewed in the context of road safety concerns and is lumped in with cyclists and vulnerable road user issues. It is pleasant to see that this specific issue is being addressed by the committee.

  (Mr Roberts-James) I agree with those views. I should like to set out some points that we can perhaps look at in greater detail than we have submitted in writing. The institution believes that walking is one of the cornerstones of sustainable transport policies. Therefore, we welcome that it is being looked at as a mode of transport on its own. But there are four key concerns which need to be looked at in more detail. First, walking usually requires small-scale as opposed to major projects. Strategic investment plans, like the 10-year plan, have a tendency to look at major schemes. That may not deliver the desired outcomes that we are all keen to see. Secondly, walking should be made mainstream in terms of professional activity so that everybody involved, whether one is a drainage or maintenance engineer, has a special concern to put people first in their work. Thirdly, the Government are consulting on proposals for wellbeing. There is a clear relationship between the ability to walk safely and conveniently and wellbeing. I am not convinced that that has been fully picked up in the consultation. The fourth point is the question of investing to save. There is a clear relationship between walking and health, and we may achieve our joint objectives in terms of health and improving walking if budgets are looked at from a cross-sectoral point of view. I believe that those four themes are of particular importance.

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