Memorandum by Roger Donnison Esq (WTC
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
I live in the city of Sheffield, where I regularly
make journeys of one or two miles on foot, mainly to the City
Centre. Once there, I can enjoy major improvements in conditions
for pedestrians that have been implemented over the last 10 years,
achieved through greater pedestrianisation of streets, reduced
traffic volumes and measures to reduce traffic speeds and give
people on foot greater confidence to treat the City Centre as
their domain. More improvements are planned which I am sure will
be welcomed by all users of the centre.
In contrast, however, conditions for pedestrians
outside the centre are worsening, and making a journey on foot,
people are constantly forced to give way to vehicles every time
they leave the footway. On a journey of a mile along a typical
urban radial road in busy traffic conditions, someone on foot
may be delayed on 20, 30 or even 40 separate occasions as they
try to move from one "block" or "island" to
another across the network of traffic streams that separates them.
These conditions are not special to Sheffield.
They apply in every English town and city. They are a result of
the way we choose to lay out and manage our streets and the way
drivers and pedestrians behave on them. But things could be different,
and we only have to look to the USA and to continental Europe
to find better sets of rules for using our streets that would
radically improve walking conditions and thereby encourage more
people to walk.
I would like to make three simple proposals,
all working elsewhere in the world, which I believe should be
put into practice here.
The first is to introduce "flashing amber"
turns at traffic signal junctions whereby vehicles turning into
a road have to give way to pedestrians crossing that road who
enjoy the protection of a "green man" signal.
The second is to change policy and practice
with respect to the positioning of "stop lines" where
a minor meets a major road. Stop lines should be moved back to
the point where the side road meets the footway (rather than the
major road), and footways should be continued across the mouth
of the junction, either using white paint or, ideally, providing
continuity of levels for the pedestrian by using a road hump.
These areas should then be made into Zebra crossings (or their
equivalent) with the same sanctions applying for infringement.
Motorists would thus be required to give way to pedestrians on
the major route as well as to motor traffic on the main road.
Effectively there would be two stop lines, one for pedestrians
(and possibly also for cyclists) and one for motor vehicles.
The third proposal is to greatly strengthen
the guidance in the Highway Code that requires drivers to give
way to pedestrians who are in the course of crossing any road
into which the driver is turning. Many drivers seem ignorant of
this rule; perhaps because knowledge of the Highway Code is generally
poor once people have left their driving test behind them.
13 November 2000