Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Eleventh Report


WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES

National targets

118. The Government sees a role for local targets ('which should be measurable and relevant to the area'), but not for national targets because they are difficult "for any of us to relate to our everyday behaviour".[189] Witnesses were divided. Some thought that walking was too difficult to measure so there was no point in having a targets. Others supported national targets in principle, and thought that if the right targets were chosen they could be measured. National targets would be an important stimulus to local authorities and others to action. The Institution of Highways and Transportation argued that targets offered a excellent opportunity to energise people and to give purpose and direction to where one is going".[190] Derek Palmer told the Committee that walking targets would serve to co-ordinate the work of different professionals:

    "one of the benefits of the road safety targets is to unify three disparate parts of the profession - the engineers, the enforcement agencies (eg. the police) and the educationalists - to try to achieve them. If we had targets for walking we might achieve a similar combination of approach".[191]

119. Furthermore it may be seen as illogical not to have a target for walking when there is one for every other mode of transport, apart from the car, including those which are far less popular. The Planning Officers' Society and the Local Government Technical Advisors Group noted: "walking is the only significant transport mode which does not have either a prediction or a target for increased use in the Government's "10 Year Plan".[192] The 10 Year Plan contains specific targets for 2010 compared to 2000. These are to increase:

    rail use by 50% [measured in passenger km];

    bus use by 10% [number of passenger journeys];

    light rail use by 100% [number of passenger journeys];

    cycling by 300% [number of cycling journeys].

In addition, it is predicted that car use will increase substantially, although this is not a target. Witnesses pointed out that it was possible that the increases in all other modes could occur at the expense of a continued decline in walking. As the Local Government Association put it "targets may steal from each other".[193] For instance, measures to promote bus use (for which there is a target) may be introduced in a way which adversely affects pedestrian movement.

120. The targets chosen should be achievable, otherwise as Mr Roberts-James of the Institution of Highways and Transportation told us "one just creates a rod for ones own back or failure".[194] The Government's Advisory Group on walking made a number of proposals for national targets which could be met. Based on data from the National Travel Survey, they were to:

    "halt the downward trend in walking by 2003;

    increase to one third the proportion of journeys where walking is the main mode by the year   2008; and

    increase the average distance walked to 250 miles per person per year by 2008."

In addition, they recommended that local authorities should "set and monitor targets in their area".[195]

121. The recommendation for a target which refers to the proportion of journeys to be taken on foot (a modal share target in the technical jargon) has several advantages, and was supported by several witnesses. Mr Palmer told us "I favour targets of modal shift or share, rather than targets of absolute walking, as we have in cycling".[196] Such targets are common in Germany. For instance, in Munich a target is set for the share of journeys to be undertaken by each mode of transport. The municipality has plans for an increase in cycling and a decrease in the share of trips undertaken by car. The key question is whether it is possible to measure sufficiently accurately the share of walking trips for the target to have any meaning. We think that over a number of years through the National Travel Survey it would be possible accurately to observe the trend in the number of walking trips as it has been over the past 20 years.[197]

122. We recommend the establishment of a National Walking Strategy. This would indicate:

  • the criteria against which local strategies would be examined for the purpose of funding;
  • a shift of priorities in respect of policies and spending in its overall transport strategy; and

  • how different Government departments will co-ordinate policies to facilitate and promote walking.

Guidance should be issued under the following headings for drawing up specific local measures:

    Changing priorities
    Funding
    Planning
    Conditions for walking
    Quality of design
    Campaigns to promote walking
    Research

In practice this would mean that local authorities and others should undertake the measures recommended by the Government's own Advisory Group on walking. All local authorities should publish local walking strategies which should determine funding allocations.

123. Although walking is the second most common mode of transport, it shares with the car the distinction of being the only two modes for which there are no targets in the 10-Year Transport Plan. We recommend that national targets should be established for car travel and walking, provided it can be demonstrated that the share of walking trips can be measured with sufficient accuracy. The targets in the 10-Year Transport Plan should be revised with targets set for all modes of transport on the same basis. The targets should take the form of the percentage of trips to be undertaken by each form of transport: walking, cycling, public transport and car travel. The key target should be to increase the share of walking trips and reduce the share of car trips. This target would not be inconsistent with the expected increase in the number of miles travelled by car, but would have the significant advantage of setting the goal which the Government seeks - reducing urban congestion by replacing car trips by walking trips. Local targets should be set as part of all local transport plans.

A national walking forum

124. Many of the witnesses pointed out that the lack of attention given to walking as a mode of transport is because of its low status and lack of an effective lobby.[198] The Pedestrians Association makes great efforts on behalf of its members but its influence and scale of resources it can deploy pale into insignificance, compared with the AA and RAC, road haulage lobby or even public transport operators. Clearly it is unlikely in the future that the pedestrian lobby will rival these other bodies in their ability to influence Government, but it was suggested that a modest improvement would be created by the establishment of a national walking forum. The walking forum would undertake similar tasks to the cycling forum. At present the pedestrian lobby is the weakest of any mode of transport - hence it is ignored despite its importance. We recommend the establishment of a National Walking Forum with the objective of ensuring that national and local policies and provisions are producing an increase in walking. The Forum would:

  • exchange best practice
  • advise on Government policy
  • examine local transport plans
  • monitor progress
  • and publish a training strategy



The aim of the forum would be to carry out and monitor many of the aspects of the national strategy. It would check that the action plan was being carried out, that local transport plans were appropriate, that suitable research was being undertaken.

FUNDING

125. The test of the Government's priorities is its spending plans. As the Institute of Logistics and Transport informed us that "the key issue remains the level of resources needed to realise an effective user-friendly network".[199] The funds the Government plans for investment in transport were announced in Transport 2010: The 10 Year Plan, which was published in July 2000. The plan "announces £180 billion investment in all forms of transport".[200] This sum comprises £64bn public capital investment, £64bn public revenue spending[201] and £56bn of private spending.[202] A very large part of the public money is to be spent on strategic roads and rail - £22.5bn of public expenditure on strategic roads and £29.1bn on rail. In addition there will be private investment on both these items. In total the investment in roads will be £59 bn and on rail £ 60 bn.[203] The budget for walking is provided from local authorities' capital expenditure under 5 year Local Transport Plans. The first, published in July 2000, cover the period 2001 to 2006. £8.4bn was provided for these 5 years in the local transport capital settlement announced in December 2000.[204]

126. While the 10-Year Plan provides more resources for transport, witnesses doubted whether a significant proportion of the funds would be provided to facilitate and promote walking. Two main questions are at issue:

    first, whether the 10-Year Plan favours big schemes over small schemes which facilitate walking; and if it does, whether it is right to do so; and

    secondly, whether Local Transport Plan budgets make adequate provision for schemes to facilitate and promote walking

127. The bulk of the evidence submitted to our inquiry argued that spending plans showed that walking was not a priority for expenditure.[205] The Government's concerns are long distance travel rather than short trips, big schemes rather than small, and, in particular, new road building. The Civic Trust stated:

    "Investing in walking represents fantastic value for money. It is cheap and benefits most people. Unfortunately too much of the money made available through the Ten Year Transport Plan will be directed towards big infrastructure projects that benefit inter-urban travellers. Investment in the walking environment was given a low priority".[206]

The Ramblers' Association claimed:

    "The backtracking that has occurred with the road building programme shows the disappointing reality of the Government's lack of commitment to sustainable transport."[207]

128. During our inquiry Professor Goodwin, formerly an adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister, published his analysis of the Government's plans. He found that the big road projects would have little impact on congestion and that small schemes might be more effective and offer better value for money.[208]

129. In response to our questions Lord Macdonald agreed that the 10-Year Plan had given priority to big schemes. The explanation was surprising. It was not that the big schemes are more cost-effective but that the Government puts emphasis on large scale schemes because their 'impact' and 'value for money' are more easily measured through the methodology 'that is available to the Treasury'.[209] The Government's view appears to be that we should invest in schemes which show positive value. We can only measure the value of large schemes using Treasury methods. Therefore building large schemes with a measured positive value is more worthwhile (or less risky) than building small scale schemes whose value cannot be measured.

130. This seems wrong. It is untrue that the value of small schemes cannot be measured, and many small schemes have been shown to have a positive value. It seems then that the Government is simply not interested in appraising small schemes.

131. The first point to be made about expenditure in Local Transport Plans is that it is very difficult to establish how much will be spent on walking. £1bn of the £8.4bn for 2001-06 is for new local authority roads. A large sum is for road maintenance. The DETR memorandum states:

    "The funding for [Local Transport Plans] will rise from some £650 million in 1999-2000 to £1.3 billion in 2001-02, and to £1.9 billion by 2005-06.

    The £1.3 bn for 2001-02 includes £545m for capital road maintenance, more than double the allocation for 1999-2000. This covers, for the first time, capital funding for maintenance on non-principal roads (the great majority of roads) whose funding was previously entirely from revenue account. This allocation will enable local authorities to achieve a very considerable improvement in road maintenance to the benefit of all users including pedestrians."[210]

This implies that the DETR considers that the capital road maintenance budget will be the main source of funding for pedestrians.

132. In view of the difficulty in determining the priority given to walking in their Local Transport Plans, the Institution of Highways and Transportation recommended that "the DETR should encourage local authorities to be explicit in terms of expenditure allocated to walking, and the outcomes derived, in the annual progress reports as part of the LTP process". We agree, although we recognise that some forms of spending (eg 20 mph zones in residential areas) are in part investment in walking because they reduce traffic speeds.

133. While expenditure under the roads maintenance budget can be spent on schemes to promote walking, and while there may be nothing to prevent a local authority from spending on walking schemes within its overall LTP budget, this seems unlikely at present to happen for several reasons. The first one is that local authorities have failed to give walking the priority it deserves in their Local Transport Plans. The second is that local authorities respond to DETR guidance, and without a determined and active effort on the part of Government it is unlikely that walking schemes will be a priority for local authorities. This seems borne out by the many local authorities which have not published a walking strategy. In addition, local authorities will tend to give priority to expenditure on safety where there is a legal liability.

134. The current low level of spending on walking schemes is surprising in one sense because local residents may well want to see a higher proportion of transport spending devoted to walking projects. Sandwell Health Authority reported that Birmingham City Council had employed independent consultants to consult members of the public to apportion the overall transport budget amongst the various areas of expenditure. The 2000 respondents thought that an average of 9% of the budget should be spent on schemes specifically to encourage walking (as opposed to safety schemes, highway maintenance or five other categories). The amount of spending proposed in the draft LTP was less than 1%, although this changed later.[211]

135. The Government has opted to fund big rather than small schemes in its Ten Year Plan, but does not know which offer the best value for money. This oversight must be addressed. We recommend that the Government ensure that in future a higher proportion of funds in Local Transport Settlements, commensurate with the importance of walking as a mode of transport, be spent on the measures put forward in the National Walking Strategy we propose. We also recommend that a higher proportion of funds in the Ten Year Transport Plan be spent on Local Transport Plans. There should be a corresponding reduction in the sums spent on new national roads.

136. Apart from transport funds there are other sources of public and private expenditure which could support walking projects. In view of the fact that such projects are especially important for the many poor households without a car, urban regeneration spending would seem particularly appropriate to support them. In addition local authorities could make more use of developers' contributions under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act for measures to promote walking.

137. The application of these additional funds to schemes to support walking will be greatly facilitated both by the introduction of local walking strategies and by appropriate local development plans which support walking so that when money becomes available there will be well-worked proposals to which they can contribute. Mr Bacon, Director of the Civic Trust and formerly chief executive of a local authority told us:

    "it would be very helpful if local plans also had a requirement to make sure that they looked at the whole network of pedestrian routes that support those land uses. When planning applications came in, there could be a framework for looking at developer contributions to that network under section 106 and section 278, in the same way you can ask for contributions to roads and so on. Sometimes it is very difficult to get contributions from developers to pedestrianised networks because there are no approved plans for them."[212]

He added, "if we can put walking at the centre of the local planning framework and the allocation of highway funding, it will help the awareness of engineers and the whole thing will be a virtuous circle".[213]

138. We note that the Government proposes to review the subject of planning gain. The proposed review of planning gain should consider how developers' contributions could most appropriately facilitate walking. We recommend that developers' contributions for this purpose be the norm in new developments. We also recommend that Local Transport Plans contain approved plans for pedestrian networks in order to facilitate developers' contributions.


189  Encouraging walking, p.8 Back

190  Q326 Back

191  Q326 Back

192  WTC21 Back

193  WTC32 Back

194  Q326 Back

195  Encouraging walking, p.32 Back

196  Q326 Back

197  Q325 Back

198  Eg. see WTC30, WTC 63, WTC 68 Back

199  WTC11 Back

200  WTC40 Back

201  Described as public resource expenditure Back

202  Transport 2010, Annex 1 - investment figures Back

203  Idem Back

204  WTC40 Back

205  Eg WTC24 Back

206  WTC31; and see WTC35 "the key may reside simply in planning hitherto small changes on a strategic scale"; and WTC36 Back

207  WTC13 Back

208  Running to Stand Still? An analysis of the Ten Year Plan for Transport, Research for CPRE, published on 12 February 2001 Back

209  Q501 Back

210  WTC40 Back

211  WTC51 Back

212  Q359 Back

213  Q359 Back


 
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