Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Eleventh Report

Summary of Recommendations

(a)Walking is a major mode of transport. Increasing the number of walking trips can have a significant impact on urban road congestion and air quality. Walking is also healthy. In addition, creating a pleasant environment which is conducive to walking is essential to the urban renaissance and, in particular, to the quality of life of the three in ten households without a car (paragraph 17).
(b)There has been very little research into walking in the past and it is important to gain a better understanding of the contribution of the relevant factors if the decline in walking is to be reversed. Accordingly we recommend that the Department commission further research into this matter and other aspects of walking behaviour and motivation which are poorly understood (paragraph 35).
(c)A philosophy of danger reduction should replace the prevailing orthodoxy of accident reduction. It can be more effective in reducing pedestrian casualties, leads to better urban design and is more convenient for pedestrians. As part of this shift, guard railings and staggered crossings, which are barely used on the Continent, should be scrapped where traffic speeds can be reduced. Local Transport Notes 1/95 and 2/95 should be withdrawn and replaced. Existing zebra crossings, marked by belisha beacons, are very satisfactory for pedestrians as long as they are respected by motorists and enforced. They should be retained except where a thorough investigation shows they should be replaced. In such cases puffin crossings should be employed (paragraph 70).
(d)We recommend that the police ensure that the Secure by Design initiative promotes personal security by higher density developments which encourage walking in streets and public spaces which are well overlooked. Getting more people walking is a major aid to security (paragraph 73).
(e)We recommend that priority be given to walking through:

    Planning policies which promote high density, mixed use, compact towns and cities which keep distances short;

    Transport Strategies which give priority to and promote walking, including the re-classification of the urban route network to take account of all its functions; and

  • promote convenient alternatives to car travel such as home delivery.

Better conditions for pedestrians by:

  • ensuring that walking routes are continuous, well-connected to key destinations and well-signed, and that where such routes meet major roads in urban areas, pedestrians have priority; particular emphasis should be given to creating good routes to important facilities, including schools and rail and bus stations and bus stops;

  • traffic restraint, including establishing more high quality pedestrian priority zones in city and local centres, which are well connected to outlying areas by high quality pedestrian routes and by public transport;

  • dealing with safety issues by reducing the impact of motor traffic and moderating traffic speed;

  • improvements to the management and maintenance of public space and personal security; in particular a greater police presence on the streets; and

  • extending the ban on pavement parking to towns and cities outside London and ensuring that it is enforced; and

    paying particular attention to the needs of the elderly and disabled (paragraph 76).
(f)Professionals need to pay much more attention both to the needs of pedestrians and to the aesthetics of the street. These matters must be addressed in university and other courses and in continuing professional development, including the training of officers by local authorities (paragraph 81).
(g)Street management is unco-ordinated and suffers from the involvement of a plethora of different agencies and professionals. We endorse those recommendations of the Designing the Streets Inquiry which apply to the establishment of street management strategies, street management codes and design codes (paragraph 84).
(h)We recommend that each local authority establish a small team of experts in street design who would work with highway engineers on all projects affecting streets and with planners on new developments (paragraph 85).
(i)We recommend that consolidated guidance be issued, which promotes the co-ordination of all work affecting the function and appearance of streets and public spaces, and sets out best practice mechanisms for implementation and monitoring (paragraph 88).
(j)We recommend that the quality of engineering work be raised by the introduction of and subsequent requirement for qualifications. Contracting supervision and quality assurance procedures should be tightened (paragraph 89).
(k)We recommend that the DETR ensure that its staffing for this policy area is commensurate with the importance of walking as a mode of transport. They will need to publish and monitor a national strategy, commission research into walking, issue consolidated guidance on street design, replace existing guidance about guard railings and staggered crossings, help local authority officers with preparing walking strategies and ensure that development plans are consistent with local transport plans (paragraph 96).
(l)The proposals in Encouraging Walking show that some DETR officials know what should be done. However, as things stand we see little likelihood of progress because Government has not willed the means to do it. As a result the excellent suggestions in its publication are likely to remain pious but unfulfilled aspirations (paragraph 98).
(m)We are very concerned that with certain exceptions local authorities will not have given sufficient priority to walking in their Local Transport Plans (paragraph 100).
(n)There is concern that the message that walking is healthy is not getting through to the public, as a recent study of increased levels of obesity indicates. We know what to do, and there have been a number of excellent studies of walking and health, including Making T.H.E. Links. This contains important recommendations which must be acted upon as a matter of urgency (paragraph 102).
(o)We recommend that the health service ensure that GPs are aware of the most recent advice about exercise levels and that they advise their patients of them. We further recommend that there be a co-ordinated national campaign led by the health service to inform the public of the benefits of walking (paragraph 103).
(p)To attempt to meet the needs of people in deprived areas, the Government needs to ensure that the same measures are pursued as elsewhere, but it will be necessary to pursue them with greater vigour. It should:
  • create good walking routes;
  • improve management of streets and other public spaces, and in particular focus on reducing the fear of crime;
  • ensure planning policies locate facilities where they are accessible on foot by poorer households without a car; and
  • consider subsidising local shops in deprived areas in the same way that some village shops are subsidised.
Funds should be provided to implement these proposals from urban regeneration monies, including the New Deal for Communities Fund, the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, and the Single Regeneration Budget (paragraph 104).
(q)Many organisations have an important role to play in facilitating walking as well as DETR and local authorities. These include the Departments of Health, Education and Employment, the Home Office, the RDAs, the Social Exclusion Unit and public transport operators. The general picture which emerges from a consideration of the schemes which they have initiated is that there are some promising projects that began in the mid-1990s which recognise the importance of and promote walking. However, at present they remain valuable ideas or pilot projects applied in a piece-meal way (paragraph 108).
(r)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
     Conditions for walking
     Quality of design
     Campaigns to promote walking
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 (paragraph 122).
(s)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 (paragraph 123).
(t)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 (paragraph 124).
(u)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 (paragraph 132).
(v)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 (paragraph 135).
(w)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 (paragraph 138).
(x)Now that PPG13 has finally been published it is important that its daughter documents are published as a matter of urgency. These are Guidance on Transport Assessments (which will indicate the share each mode of transport should achieve at new developments) and Planning and Sustainable Access (which illustrates how new developments can be planned to reduce dependence on the car for access). Both of these projects are complete. We recommend that the national research on parking standards which supported PPG13 now be published (paragraph 145).
(y)It is a matter of concern that the Treasury's inquiry into planning policy has been undertaken with the aim of undoing the important policies to restrain out-of-town development which were put in place in the last decade. If this were done, it would have severe consequences for walking, congestion and the Urban Renaissance. We note with approval the following conclusion of the Treasury Committee:
"We are concerned that the Treasury as an institution has recently begun to exert too much influence over policy areas which are properly the business of other departments and that this is not necessarily in the best interests of the Treasury or the Government as a whole."
We can think of few areas where these remarks are more appropriate than land use planning, the complexities of which should not be dealt with superficially. We trust our successor Committee will monitor developments in this area keenly (paragraph 146).

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Prepared 30 June 2001