Memorandum by Henry Law Esq (WTC 26)
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
1. THE CONTRIBUTION
The contribution of walking to the Urban Renaissance
should be self-evident. One further point could, however, be added.
When people get out of their cars and start walking, social interactions
start to take place which are beneficial in themselves, for example,
as casual meetings take place in the street, which are precluded
when people are boxed-up in motor vehicles. The presence of more
people on foot in the street also has a beneficial effect in maintaining
good order and a feeling of safety.
2. THE REASONS
The main reasons for the decline in walking
are cultural, but practical measures that increase the attractiveness
of walking will help to change a widespread perception that walking
is for losers.
Many towns are difficult to walk around due
to the kind of traffic management measures that have been imposed
over the past 30 years. These include, in particular, poorly-sited
pedestrian crossings which involve walkers in unnecessary detours,
controlled-light crossings with long waiting times for pedestrians
and short pedestrian phases, subway and bridge crossings, insufficiently
wide footways and the use of footways by cyclists, and for car
Walking can also be made difficult by factors
such as obstruction by refuse, unauthorised use by traders and
the poor state of repair of footways.
Fear of crime is also a deterrent against walking.
It should always be borne in mind that walking
is generally one mode in a journey that may also be made in part
by public transport, and to the extent that the quality of the
latter continues to decline, walking will also remain unattractive.
3. WHAT SHOULD
The most important measures would address the
issues mentioned in section 2 above. These include:
Provision of conveniently located
crossing places situated to suit preferred pedestrian movements.
Adjustment of controlled crossings
in favour of pedestrians; in town centres, traffic lights should
normally be set in the pedestrian phase, with traffic phase on
demandthe opposite way round to current practice.
Pedestrian crossings should be generally
improved; in particular, pedestrians should not be made to wait
in "cages" on traffic islands in the middle of the road
but should be enabled to cross roads in a single stage.
Elimination of subway crossings by
Provision of safe cycling facilities
on the highway and strict enforcement of "no cycling on footway"
Enforcement of parking regulations
to prevent parking on footways.
Public transport improvements. More
research is needed in this area as recent regulations and changing
economic conditions have resulted in public transport vehicles,
especially buses, which are unattractive to the travelling public
and ill-adapted to the use for which they are intended. Regulations
for the construction of buses should make it possible to operate
new vehicles which are functionally equivalent to the London Routemaster,
and the use of conductors should be encouraged, if necessary through
Well designed tram systems such as
the Croydon Tramlink make for an attractive pedestrian environment
and provide potentially high quality public transport.
4. WHAT CAN
It is likely that best practice is to be found
on the Continent, notably in Germany, the Netherlands and France.
5. WHETHER THE
Qualifications and training of professional
staff is of less importance than the prevailing mindset. If traffic
planners themselves subscribe to the car culture and are disinclined
to walk or use public transport, they will have little understanding
of what is required to improve conditions for pedestrians, and
little inclination to do anything about their problems.
6. WHETHER ALL
PPG 13 AND THE
To some extent, Government Departments are still
part of the problem.
Accessibility regulations, for example,
are one reason why new buses are almost 50 per cent heavier than
the buses of the 1950s, whilst having about the same seating capacity.
Taxation policy, which remains bottom-end
loaded. Public transport, because it is labour intensive, is badly
affected by this pattern of taxation; this is one reason for the
disappearance of, for instance, train cleaners, bus conductors,
4 Double-deck buses with a high seating capacity on
both upper and lower decks, are not pay-on-entry and occupy a
small footprint on the highway. Back