Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by Oxford Brookes University, School of Planning (WTC 27)



  Oxford Brookes University, School of Planning, has a continuing programme of research into the effects of the introduction of the new system of Local Transport Plans. Last year, we investigated a sample of 24 Provisional Local Transport Plans (PLTPs) out of the national total of 86 submitted in July 1999 for the years 2000-01. The sample included local authorities from all eight English regions, including Unitaries, County Councils and Metropolitan Councils. The list of sampled authorities is given below in Table 1.

  The research analysed each PLTP by the criteria included in Annex D of the "Guidance on Provisional Local Transport Plans" for 12 different topics, including Table 26 "Strategy to encourage walking". The full Report was published in February 2000, as "Towards Better Local Transport Planning" (available from Publications Secretary, 01865 483491). This contained a detailed analysis of each topic, highlighting best practice and making recommendations to Government how the Guidance could be improved. In addition, in order to facilitate comparison across topics and local authorities, a scoring system was adopted from 0 (criterion not addressed at all) to four (best practice) with a score of two representing an adequate coverage of the criterion. Oxford Brookes University is now undertaking a similar exercise for the full LTPs using the same sample of local authorities. This information should be available from March 2001.

  This submission will concentrate on the findings as regards walking. Its primary focus will be the topic "Whether Local Transport Plans are adequate". It should be emphasised that this information

    1.  refers exclusively to PLTPs, not the latest LTPs,

    2.  that no other documents, such as discrete Walking Strategies, were scored or examined.

    3.  the PLTP policies were examined, rather than what actually happens "on the ground". In fact other evidence shows that there may be quite distinct differences between written policies and actual practice,

    4.  and that the scoring for walking was undertaken by a single researcher. Each score for a local authority was the result of an individual analysis of each of the 17 criteria in Table 26 of Annex D. As far as possible, therefore, the scoring represents an objective assessment of the topic both in terms of the individual criteria and by different local authorities.


  When averaged across all 24 sampled plans, the overall score for Walking was 1.2, which represents a generally poor treatment of the topic. In comparison with the other Annex D topics examined, "Walking" came out bottom, below for instance: "Promotion of bus use" (2.6), "Journeys to School" (2.3), "Public Participation" (1.8), "Promotion of Cycling" (1.4) and "Inclusion of people with disabilities" (1.3). There was a wide range of scores between individual local authorities as regards the topic "Walking", from 0.3 (West Berkshire) to 2.8 (York). Individual local authority scores for walking are given in Table 1 below.

Table 1


Based on DETR Annex D Criteria
Stratgy to promote walking

N Yks


  In the following list, the phrase "local authorities" refers only to the 24 sampled local authorities. For reasons of space and relevance, reference to Annex D criteria 3) "in all transport policies" (score 1.8); 4) "pedestrians are being given high priority" (score 1.8); 5) "working with planning authority" (score 1.3); 8) "needs of mobility and sensory impaired people" (score 1.3) and 9) "partnerships" (score 0.5) have been omitted.

1.  Includes a strategy to encourage walking, either as a stand alone document or as part of sustainable transport strategy

  Average Score = 1.7

  Only three local authorities have an adopted separate Walking Strategy (Oxford, Warwick and York) and three others have provisional Walking Strategies (Plymouth, Hampshire and West Berkshire). 12 local authorities make a commitment to develop one, eight of which mention that they will do so after the publication of the "National Walking Strategy".

2.  Identifies targets related to encouraging walking and establishes arrangements for monitoring progress

  Average Score = 1.3

  14 local authorities make a commitment to increase walking. Of these, seven specify a definable figure, which ranges from a 2-5 per cent increase (Reading) to a 50 per cent increase for work journeys (West Berkshire) with various target dates. York has a cordon modal share target of 13 per cent (91) to 14 per cent (2006). Two local authorities use the Census "journey to work data" for monitoring. Figures for these are: Stoke on Trent from 15 per cent (91) to 20 per cent (2011) and Oxfordshire 12 per cent (91)—12 per cent (2001)—15 per cent (2011). Apart from those using Census data, which is comparable between local authorities, techniques for monitoring these targets are variable (eg cordon data, household surveys, data on new developments) or in many cases, such targets are purely aspirational with no adequate monitoring at all.

6.  Audit and improves (by making more convenient, pleasanter and safer) walking routes to key destinations such as schools, workplaces, shopping areas and public transport interchanges (including bus stops)

  Average Score = 1.7

  Along with criteria 7 and 11, this represents the core of local authority action to improve the pedestrian environment. In fact, the criterion contains a number of different elements: pedestrian audits; improvement to existing routes (by physical or maintenance measures); and possibly new routes. There is an overlap with criterion 11. Many local authorities contain commitments to improve specific routes, primarily "Safer Routes to School" (which, depending on the local authority presentation, was included in this criterion (mainly routes), criterion 7 (mainly safety) or criterion 16 (mainly presentation)). Most local authorities do not include a commitment to pedestrian audits, only mention providing pedestrian routes in general, or only specify routes to schools.

7.  Measures to improve road safety and reduce the impact of traffic on pedestrians, consistent with encouraging walking

  Average Score = 1.8

  Safety has always been the prime concern of local authority planning as regards pedestrians. Most local authorities therefore treat this criterion adequately in a traditional way, by mentioning safety, more crossings, along with some commitment to traffic calming and speed reduction. Virtually no authorities mention the problems of pedestrian trip falls (a vast but hidden aspect of pedestrian safety).

8.  Adopts a formal order in which planners should consider the needs of different types of transport (ie "hierarchy" or "order of consideration"), placing pedestrians first (as pioneered in York, Sheffield, etc)

  Average Score = 0.7

  Only three local authorities—Devon, Plymouth and York—have a formal order. Portsmouth has a commitment to a formal order, Leicestershire has a proposal of a formal order, Stoke-on-Trent gives pedestrians "the highest priority". Norfolk also apparently has a user hierarchy, but reference to it is restricted to a footnote under "disabled" heading, so it is questionable how seriously the local authority considers it. York shows how a formal order can influence action.

9.  Provides for high quality networks of walking routes, and improve those networks that already exist

  Average Score = 1.4

  The distinction with criterion 6 seems to be the "high quality networks" rather than just "routes". In practice such a distinction is difficult to judge from the LTPs. Often local authorities' commitment fits better in this criterion than in criterion 6, because very few local authorities commit themselves to "pedestrian audits". York gives a depth of detail and insight that far exceeds other local authorities.

10.  Identifies and tackles personal security issues that discourage people from walking

  Average Score = 1.0

  Very few local authorities make any commitment to personal security; the major commitment is improved street lighting.

11.  Co-ordination of street works to minimise disruption to pedestrians

  Average Score = 0.2

  Only two local authorities mention street works. Hampshire has a commitment to "inspect provisions at roadworks". York has the most effective long term policy to "avoid services beneath paths wherever possible".

12.  Removal of superfluous street furniture

  Average Score = 0.6

  Only a very few local authorities mention street furniture. A few local authorities mention clearing obstructions, eg Hampshire "working with district councils to ensure that footways and pedestrian areas are clear of obstructions such as advertising boards and overgrown vegetation"; Others have a commitment to "reduce the clutter" which causes difficulty for visually impaired, eg Portsmouth "The most obvious threat to mobility impaired people is street furniture, and poorly positioned seats, lights, posts or bins could prevent access by people with visual impairments".

13.  Where appropriate develop good links between urban centres and rural areas

  Average Score = 0.8

  This topic is hardly ever mentioned. A related topic, "Quiet Roads" and public rights of way are sometimes mentioned, and only York mentions that these will be linked into the pedestrian network.

14.  Encourages walking through TravelWise, Green Commuter Plans, LA21 strategy, School Travel Plans

  Average Score = 2.0

  These publicity options are popular, but it is questionable whether they have much effect without an improvement in the physical environment.

15.  Minimise conflict between cyclists and walkers

  Average Score = 0.6

  Only eight local authorities make a commitment to avoid conflict with pedestrians. Government advice is not to create shared use except where absolutely necessary (eg National Cycling Strategy and Guidance on provisional LTPs). Most local authorities propose off-road cycle routes (railway lines, towpaths, parks, side-roads, sides of main roads). Most are (probably, because it is not often explicit) shared use. Reading LTP is an example of the underlying thinking in most LAs' minds "to improve facilities for cyclists and walkers through the development of safe, convenient, efficient and attractive cycle infrastructure". Central Leicestershire is even more explicit: "more and improved [pedestrian] facilities throughout the road network. Many of these facilities will be shared with cyclists, as the needs of these modes are often identical".


Walking Strategy

  It is striking how few local authorities have a Strategy for Walking, and how many local authorities are waiting for the publication of the National Walking Strategy. This in part reflects the lack of importance accorded to walking in the past and the lack of officer skill to develop such strategies, but principally the lack of national guidance. Subsequent to the research, the Government issued "Encouraging Walking" (March 2000), combining useful advice, but falling short of a strategy.

  Recommendation 6.1: Government to issue the National Walking Strategy

Performance Indicators and Monitoring

  "The lack of data results in a lack of understanding and in order to improve conditions and encourage walking we need to bridge that gap" (Central Leicestershire LTP). "It would be particularly beneficial if more guidance on survey methods could be given before the full LTP stage" (Leicestershire LTP).

  There is very little local data on walking. The National Travel Survey gives national data, which shows that walking makes up 29 per cent of complete journeys, 82 per cent of complete journeys under one mile, and 21 per cent of the time spent travelling. For those few local authorities that actually collect local travel data, this has been mostly done at town centre cordons (and walking has not usually been included, at least until recently).

  Even when walking data into main centres is collected (eg Oxford 17 per cent of person journeys—special survey), this will tend to under-represent the contribution of walking, because most walk journeys are very short and more common to other locations than the major centre, eg to local shopping centres. Local data shows that walking typically represents 20-80 per cent of journeys to local shops, whilst nationally 48 per cent of school journeys are on foot, 25 per cent of journeys for visiting friends and 24 per cent of personal business are on foot. These are all locations that would be missed by traditional cordon surveys.

  Thus there is no clear methodology of estimating walking in a local area. Census data collects local information on walking to work for all local authorities, but although the figures are therefore comparable, walk to work journeys represent only 6 per cent of all walk journeys (NTS figures). Another kind of survey—shopping street walking surveys (as in Oxford and York) are really a measure of commercial vitality, not walking, as many shoppers obviously arrive by car or bus.

  Recommendation 6.2: Government to give clear advice on effective methods of data collection for walking (on the BATNEEC principle) so that the data 1) gives an adequate representation of the degree of walking 2) gives some form of comparability between local authorities 3) can measure the effectiveness or otherwise of local authority policies.


  Another issue is whether there need to be targets to increase walking. There is a distinct difference with cycling, in that walking already accounts for 82 per cent of the modal share of its natural distance (under one mile), whereas cycling accounts for only 3 per cent of its natural distance (1-2 miles). In a European context, UK already has a high modal share for walking (Pharaoh 1992). For the most part, walk trips are probably substituted not just by car trips of the same distance, but by longer car trips to different destinations, or alternatively in the case of non-car owning older or mobility impaired people by foregoing trips altogether. It is therefore probable that walking is more susceptible to changes in location of walking destination, eg new retail outlets, centralised hospitals, or choice of schools, than dependent on the quality of walking routes. Local authorities have control over the location of new development, the quality of the transport environment and some services such as schools, but they cannot influence which development applications are brought forward, nor prevent the closure of facilities or changes of use within particular Class Use categories.

  Recommendation 6.3: Government to give clearer advice on what constitutes realistic and challenging targets for walking and suitable measures to achieve those targets.

Other Targets and Monitoring

  Many local authorities set no targets at all on walking. Local authorities are more likely to achieve effective provision for pedestrians if they have a number of performance indicators and targets to meet. This would be in line with the Government approach in the National Cycling Strategy. Perhaps it would be best if there were a small number of core/headline targets (eg increase pedestrian use and reduce pedestrian casualties) and a larger number of secondary targets/outputs/performance indicators, which contribute to the headline targets.

  Recommendation 6.4: Government to issue guidelines on the setting of targets and performance indicators.

  Possible outputs/targets (to contribute to targets to maintain/increase pedestrian use) could be: identify key officer; prepare walking strategy; ensure all local plans meet guidance in strategy; ensure local government policies/departments (education/health/shopping) support guidance; set up walking forums/consultation; audit percentage routes to schools; audit percentage routes to other key locations; improve/complete percentage routes to key urban/town/rural locations; identify percentage public transport links; identify long term maintenance needs; identify measures for removing temporary obstructions (parking, snow, leaves, etc); monitor trip falls; set target for reducing trip falls.

Road Safety

  The Government's policy on road safety (Table 27), its policy on children (Table 6) and Social Inclusion (Table 21) and its general commitment in the White Paper to "make walking a more viable, attractive and safe option" would imply that the Government wishes local authorities to tackle the disproportionate number of casualties among pedestrians (among the worst in Europe), especially accidents to children, in particular from car-free households, and fatalities among older pedestrians. Government has since issued guidance for child safety targets, but not pedestrian accident reduction targets.

  Recommendation 6.5: Government to require councils to set targets for reduction in pedestrian casualties.

Trip and Slip falls—pavement obstructions and maintenance

  It is estimated that annually 600,000 older people will require medical treatment due to trip falls ("Driven Indoors"—Age Concern); 55 per cent of older people say they have a problem with cracked and damaged pavements; and one million older people will annually have a "slip-fall" accident due to uncleared snow or leaves. It is estimated that there are 2-3 defects every 10 metres of footway surface, and that vehicles driving on pavements cause one third of day-to-day footway repairs and half of all planned footway maintenance.

  The York LTP includes a recent "comprehensive survey of walking patterns", which offers interesting local and more up-to-date comparisons with the NCC 1987 findings, and reveals that the state of the pavement is still the most significant concern.

  York LTP 96/7 Problems: 34 per cent cracked/uneven pavements; 32 per cent speeding traffic; 22 per cent lack of crossings; 15 per cent poor lighting; 12 per cent parked traffic near schools; 10 per cent cycling/parking on footway; 7 per cent narrow pavements; 3 per cent no pavements; 1 per cent insufficient time at crossings.

  Only one local authority mentions tackling pavement parking (Devon), "ensure enforcement of traffic violations, such as parking on footways, is a priority" and only York, Devon and Stoke on Trent lay emphasis on maintenance to "ensure trip free good quality walking surfaces for footways" (York) and "in built-up areas the footway surface is level, clean and has a non slip surface" (Devon). Stoke has a policy of good maintenance, minimising risk of falls. In view of the importance to the walking environment, Annex D advice is deficient. There is more emphasis on this topic in the recent "Encouraging Walking", but even in that document, the Government prioritises vehicles parking on pavements over pedestrian movement ("In some areas the pavement is the only place residents can park while leaving enough room in the road for vehicles to pass" 3.49).

  Recommendation 6.6: Annex D advice to local authorities to set up resources and procedures for adequate long-term and short-term maintenance of footways to ensure a high standard of walking surface.

  Recommendation 6.7: Annex D advice to local authorities to ensure adequate barrier and obstruction free footways, both in the siting of permanent street furniture (light poles, signs, etc) and temporary obstructions (vehicles, sign boards, foliage, etc).

  Recommendation 6.8: Annex D advice to include monitoring of trip/slip falls and targets to reduce the number of such falls.

Pedestrian priority zones

  In the Annex D Criteria, there is also a bias towards "pedestrian routes"; there is no mention in these criteria of area wide traffic calming (most children road collisions occur on minor roads near their home). Perhaps curiously, pedestrianisation projects also do not appear in the criteria.

  Recommendation 6.9: Annex D advice to include support for full or part pedestrianisation of shopping centres and other locations to make pleasant traffic-free areas.

  Recommendation 6.10: Annex D advice to councils to identify pedestrian priority zones (Home Zones), such as residential estates, and introduce area-wide traffic calming to create safe conditions both off and on carriageway for children, residents, older people and people with mobility and sensory impairments.


  Our findings were presented to DETR in December 1999, with the support of consortium of NGO's, including The Pedestrian Association and The Joint Mobility Unit. However, none of our recommendations were included in the subsequent "Guidance on Local Transport Plans" issued in March 2000. Whilst some of the issues raised above have subsequently been included in the document "Encouraging Walking", we believe that the Annex D criteria carry more weight, as these are directly related to local authority funding mechanisms. The "Guidance on Local Transport Plans" specifically states that the "integrated transport" award will be partly based on the quality of the Local Transport Plan as regards the Annex D criteria, and the Settlement Letter which is sent to the local authority includes comments on the Annex D criteria.

  Among other questions, our forthcoming analysis of walking policies in our sample of full Local Transport Plans will seek to compare policies in the Annex D "Guidance on Local Transport" with the policies included in "Encouraging Walking" to identify what similarities and discrepancies exist between the two documents. This will permit an assessment of local authority policies by both Annex D criteria and the advice in "Encouraging Walking" to see which has the greater influence on local policy.

  Our analysis of walking policies in PLTPs showed that with few exceptions the topic was treated very poorly. This was apparently due to a lack of Government guidance on the topic, coupled with a long history of neglect. We hope our forthcoming analysis of full LTPs will show whether the publication of "Encouraging Walking" has raised the quality of walking strategies more generally beyond those few beacon councils.

January 2001

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