Memorandum by Oxford Brookes University,
School of Planning (WTC 27)
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
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
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
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
OVERALL PERFORMANCE OF "STRATEGY TO
PROMOTE WALKING" FOR EACH LOCAL AUTHORITY
|Based on DETR Annex D Criteria||Devon
|Stratgy to promote walking||1.8
ANNEX D WALKING
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
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
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
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 authoritiesDevon, Plymouth and Yorkhave
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
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
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
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
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".
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
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
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 journeysspecial 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 surveyshopping
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
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.
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 fallspavement 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,
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
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.