Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 1

Questions Posed by the Committee—Cross Reference Notes

  These are some notes offered to draw the Committee's attention to other work that it may consider to be of relevance.

Question posed by Committee Cross references . . .
The contribution of walking to the Urban Renaissance, healthy living and reducing dependency on cars; The Designing Streets for People report addresses the issue from the reverse direction—how improvements to the attractiveness and function of the street environment can create streets for people.
The reasons for the decline in walking and the main obstacles to encouraging walking and increasing the number of journeys made by foot; The Designing Streets Inquiry identified problems including:

  —  Unattractive street frontages.

  —  Noise.

  —  Streets designed around the largest vehicles ever likely to be encountered rather than people.

  —  Practitioners pursuing narrow, specialised interests and needs, rather than working to a balance of different needs and interests.

What should be done to promote walking, including:   
the creation of city squares, the role of pedestrianisation, Home Zones, additional measures to restrain traffic,   
the harmonisation of walking and public transport and

improved safety and security for pedestrians;
Interchanges—an unpublished report by the ICE is enclosed.

External Electronic Speed Control of Vehicles

The report A Vision for Transport 2020 published by the Institution of Civil Engineers on behalf of the Engineering Council—highlighted the potential for improving the safety of pedestrians by electronic technology to control traffic including the control of vehicle speed (electronic traffic calming). More recent studies have been undertaken for the DETR by Leeds University in conjunction with the Motor Industry Research Association.


  Objections to traffic calming have included interference with public transport and visual intrusion. Many professionals would argue that these objections can be overcome by careful design. An electronic based system of speed control could be largely invisible, would not affect public transport, and could vary speed limits according to the prevailing conditions, for example lower limits could be applied at certain times of day, on certain roads eg routes to school where child pedestrians are likely to be present.

  Pedestrian Friendly Vehicles

ICE's reports on A Vision for Road Safety beyond 2000 highlighted the potential to increase the safety of pedestrians and cyclists by changes to the design of vehicles including pedestrian safe vehicle fronts and pedestrian air-bags.

The Transport Research Laboratory conducted work a decade ago on Pedestrian Friendly Vehicles, where low cost modifications to the front of vehicles to design in a pedestrian crumple zone—reducing the pedestrians likelihood of being hit by a rigid part of the car, such as the engine, a structural member or a panel edge.

Ford and Toyota are among the vehicle manufacturers to have conducted research on pedestrian air bags. display.cfm?article id=6435

What can be learnt from good practice both in England and elsewhere; Urban design codes—as used in USA and Berlin were highlighted in the Designing Streets for People Inquiry as a means of obtaining sensible conformity between buildings fronting a street without restricting the creative flair of architects.
Whether the relevant professionals have the appropriate skills and training; Designing Streets for People makes specific proposals for training for professionals—a Masters in Street Management; and also for training for craftspeople eg paviours. Skilled craftspeople are a key to obtaining a quality street environment.
Whether all Government Departments, their agencies, including the Highways Agency, and local authorities are taking appropriate measures, and in particlar whether Local Transport Plans, PPG 13 and the Government Paper, Encouraging Walking, are adequate; Designing Streets for People argues for a holistic approach to the public realm and all the activities and functions that take place within it.

  —  ensuring there is an individual with responsibility for a wide range of functions in each street;

  —  ensuring the legislation supports.
In particular, whether greater priority should be given to measures to promote walking, including a greater share of the Government budget and the re-allocation of road space; Returning Roads to Residents (2000, UDAL, published by ICE) argues the case for streets to be adapted to meet modern needs. It was not until 1969 that the percentage of households with regular use of a car exceeded 50 per cent. By this time, over half of our current housing stock had already been built. In essence a substantial portion of our housing stock and estates was never designed to accommodate high levels of car ownership and use. There will be many roads where the current allocation of the entire street-space, including verges, footways, and front gardens, does not meed modern needs. There is an extensive problem with front gardens being surfaced to provide off-street parking. The worst instances of this destroy the attractiveness of a street, cost the residents significant amounts of money, provide little or no net gain in car parking spaces, and by removing the traffic-calming effect of vehicles parked on the street can lead to an increase in vehicle speeds.

Returning Roads to Residents advocates the general improvement of the attractiveness and function of the public realm; improving the conditions for pedestrians is a major objective along with others. The decisions should be made by a partnership of local authority, professionals and directly interested parties.
Whether national targets should be set and a National Strategy published; The Designing Streets for People Inquiry has identified an extensive problem of single interest approaches to the design and management of the street including separate guidance on cycling, provision of public transport, statutory undertakers, providing for people with limited mobility, traffic management etc, when in fact all of these items have to be catered for in the same street.

It is important for any walking strategy to recognise that walking is not an isolated activity, nor the only activity that takes place in the street. Nor to regard it as merely a means of transport. It is after all the very building block of life.

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