Memorandum by the National TravelWise
Association (WTC 15)
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
The National TravelWise Association is a partnership
of local authorities and other organisations working together
to promote sustainable transport. The National TravelWise Association
aims to reduce society's dependence on car use by:
Raising awareness of environmental,
health, economic and social effects of car use;
Changing attitudes towards car use;
Promoting more sustainable modes
of travel and lifestyles which require less travel;
Encouraging action to change travel
behaviour and reduce unnecessary car use.
Our present membership base consists of nearly
90 local highway authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, and
is expanding rapidly. We welcome this opportunity to comment on
the issue of "Walking in Towns and Cities" because for
(i) Walking is a viable alternative to cars
for some journeys.
(ii) Every journey starts and ends with walkingirrespective
of whether walking is the main or secondary form of travel.
Improving the attractiveness, security and economic
success of towns and cities is key to increasing levels of walking.
Our most attractive towns and cities are those built at "People
Scale" around pedestrians rather than around the motor car.
There is conclusive evidence available about
the health benefits of walking and cycling in terms of reductions
in mortality and morbidity (such as heart disease and stroke,
osteoporosis, obesity, mental health and well-being and mobility).
However, approximately six out of ten adults in the UK are not
physically active enough to benefit their health, a fact that
is related to increased levels of car ownership and reducing levels
of physical activity.
In daily life, walking is mainly a viable method
of travel for short distances only. In 1996, 96 per cent of journeys
where walking was the main mode were under two miles in length,
and yet, only three in five journeys under two miles in length
were completed on foota third were completed by car. There
is therefore considerable potential here for achieving a shift
Walking, as a proportion of all journeys, has
declined from 34 per cent to 28 per cent in the 10 years between
1986 and 1996.
This is a reflection of changing travel patterns, with more journeys
under two miles in length being completed by non-walk modes, but
it is also a fact that individual journeys have got longer (and
preclude walking). In 1986, less than half of all completed journeys
were over two miles in length, compared to 55 per cent in 1996.
However, every journey, irrespective of distance and main method
of travel, starts and ends with walking. Better provision and
integration of non-car modes will be essential to attract people
out of their cars.
2. REASONS FOR
Car ownership: increased car ownership and popularity
Distances travelled: there has been an increase
in the distances travelled which reduces the opportunities to
make journeys by foot.
Planning of new developments:
1. edge of town and out of town developments
are less accessible by foot or combination of foot and public
transport than by car;
2. increased provision for car parking and
car access in recent new developments has increased the scale
and makes walking less attractive;
3. access for motor vehicles in new developments
is usually considered first and access by foot is often then "added
on" around it. This can result in un-attractive and indirect
routes for pedestrians.
Pedestrian priority: pedestrians have with the
growth in motor car use, been treated as "second-class citizens"
on the roads, with pedestrians having to give way or go under
or over roads so as to not reduce traffic flows.
Inconvenience: the walking journey may be longer
than by car. Difficulty in carrying things back home.
Time: normally walking takes longer but in congested
city centres there can be a time benefit.
Road danger: safe crossing points of major roads
clearly are a requirement. Mixing with low speed and low volume
traffic in town centres is undesirable but probably does not have
a great deterrent effect. With increased traffic levels walking
on footways adjacent to roads becomes more unpleasant with noise
Fear of crime: particularly at night and in
certain areas. Tends to have a larger deterrent effect on women
and the elderly. Street lighting and CCTV are important in reducing
actual and perceived crime. Need to work with local Community
Lack of fitness: this may be more perceived
than real but people may feel walking is a chore and is hard work.
Leisure walking can break that cyclethere is a need to
recognise the strong link between leisure and utility walking.
Poor highway maintenance: probably not likely
to deter many people but a poorly maintained footway not only
results in a less favourable walking experience, it gives a message
about how the community views its importance. Most maintenance
money is spent on carriageway repairs because vehicles cause the
most damage. Despite the capital money available through the LTP
settlements, revenue money for maintenance through the SSA is
still very tight. Are we prepared as a society to see better footways
at the expense of relatively worse roads?
Poor design of facilities: for instance inadequate
footway widths or long waiting times at pelican crossings.
Poor enforcement of traffic regulations: persistent
parking on the footway for example is rarely prosecuted.
Poor highway management: is it clear how faults
should be reported to and is it easy to report them? Is there
confusion about roles between County and District or within a
Unitary Council? Integrated street management policies are required.
Lack of signing: signage for pedestrians tends
only to exist in the core of town centres. More extensive signage
would direct pedestrians to a convenient, pleasant and, hopefully,
well maintained routeit would also reinforce the value
the local community gives to it. Signage, by itself, is permanent
advertising for walking.
Route discontinuities and community severance:
this is perhaps the biggest bar to walking and often the most
difficult to solve.
Tensions between cyclists and pedestrians: the
issue of joint use footways still causes much debatethey
can be unpopular with pedestrians and cyclists alike. However
they should both be seen as attractive sustainable travel modes
to the car and not competition with one another. Despite the disadvantages,
shared-use paths are better than no facility for cyclists at all.
This is particularly relevant for one-way streets.
Footway obstructions: "A" boards,
pavement shop displays and wheeled bins can all prove to be obstructions,
especially for the disabled.
City squares and pedestrianisation: pedestrianising
city and town centres can create a more pleasant environment for
shoppers, workers etc, encourage more walking around the centre
and more leisure walking trips in the centre. However, pedestrianisation
cannot be seen in isolation as it will not help to reduce dependence
on cars on its own. To do this the pedestrianisation must go hand
in hand with:
improved pedestrian routes linking
the centre to nearby residential areas;
the introduction of residents parking
schemes and home zones in residential areas surrounding centres
to improve pedestrian safety and deter rat-running and displaced
improved provision of public transport
into the central area in order to make access to the city centre
by public transport more attractive than access by car. Done incorrectly,
pedestrianisation can actually reduce the convenience of bus access
to City Centres, and thus reduce its attractiveness.
Home zones and traffic calming: reducing vehicle
access and speeds in residential areas has the effect of increasing
the attractiveness and safety of walking whilst also making it
relatively more inconvenient and slower to drive. This has the
added benefit of encouraging residents to make local journey by
foot rather than car. However, the detailed design of traffic
calming schemes is crucial in determining their success.
Whole journey approach: It has been clearly
shown for public transport that when a whole route approach is
taken to the delivery of a bus service, including the right service
level provision, bus priority, ticketing incentives and good marketing
and promotion, dramatic increases in patronage can be achieved.
There is considerable scope for a similar approach to be taken
for promoting walking, particularly if a whole journey approach
is taken. Walking is not necessarily the main mode of travel for
the majority of journeys, but in multi-mode journeys, such as
using the bus, the users poor perception of the walking stage
can be the main deterrent to using the bus.
Safety and security: Personal security is a
key issue for increasing the attractiveness of walking. Better
lighting, removing subways, blind corners and overgrown vegetation
will help. Increased levels of walking will provide by itself
Raising awareness: car drivers tend to incorporate
their everyday activities around the car, so they are excluding
the possibility of walking before they even get a chance. To be
successful in raising awareness of walking, there is a need to
"disrupt" this unconscious thought process. Messages
and campaigns need to promote walking as enjoyable but should
also focus on the health, fitness and weight loss benefits of
4. TAKING APPROPRIATE
Government action: the awaited final version
of Planning Policy Guidance 13 (PPG13) provides an opportunity
to improve the accessibility and the provision made for walking
in new developments. This is an important opportunity that should
not be missed.
Local government: promote walking as part of
various transport-related strategies contained within Local Transport
Plan. In addition to local walking strategies, access strategies
have been developed for some cities, with priority being given
to pedestrians in city centres relative to other modes of travel.
Funding: local authorities cannot rely on LTP
funding alone to pay for new transport infrastructure. There are
examples of cities which have developed a series of area transport
plans, whose objective is to secure financial contributions from
developers to pay for transport infrastructure improvements, focused
on walking, cycling and buses.
Raising awareness: the level of marketing and
promotion directed at encouraging walking varies across the country,
and is uncoordinated. Currently, the promotion of walking is targeted
at primary schools, mainly undertaken as part of the "Walk
to School" weeks promoted by the National TravelWise Association
and the Pedestrian Association. A co-ordinated communication strategy
needs to be developed by all the stakeholders with an interest
in promoting sustainable travel to ensure that walking receives
a higher profile. Partnership working with the Health Sector will
Funding: encouraging more walking will ultimately
rely on making walking or a combination of walking and public
transport a more attractive option than using the car. This will
require significant improvements in walking facilities. Compared
to the central and local government budget spent on roads and
access (predominately motor vehicle) the budget spent on walking
routes is very small. Making a difference to walking facilities
will require a much larger share of the government budget, but
more importantly, it will require a real commitment to reallocation
of road space and road timefor example, shorter pedestrian
crossing waiting times for pedestrians.
Re-allocation of road space: to really improve
conditions for pedestrians, crossing the road to create a direct
route must be much easier; this will mean cars stopping more often
to give way to pedestrians. To improve the environment for pedestrians
more road space will be required for wider pavements and more
landscaping. To encourage more local and city centre journeys
to be made by foot, car access needs to be limited, to make it
Safety: for pedestrians also needs to be improved;
however this should not be at the expense of convenience and provision
of direct routes. Historically, provision has always been made
for motor vehicles first, with pedestrian safety considerations
being provided by restricting pedestrian movements in the vicinity
of roads. The thought process needs to change so that on appropriate
routes, good design and restrictions on vehicle movements and
speeds are used to improve pedestrian safety rather than by the
use of railings and inconvenient pedestrian crossing points.
6. SKILLS AND
"Whole journey" approach: this multi-modal
approach to the examination of journeys is a relatively new concept
for local authorities, which challenges traditional working methods,
in terms of partnership working, working practices, and budget
allocations. This method of working needs developing further.
Promotion of travel awareness: marketing will
be a key skill in the promotion of walking, but this is not a
traditional skill in local government. Greater training in marketing
concepts and promotion methodologies is needed for local government
officers if campaigns to promote walking are to be effective.
Design guidelines: there are plenty of skills
in designing physical environments but there may be an argument
that the guidelines for design are over weighted towards the car.
This is particularly so there is a choice between carriageway
space and footway space. Guidelines may need to be reviewed.
Footway/footpath hierarchies: the issue of establishing
a footway/footpath hierarchy is important and further advice on
this would be helpful eg level of usage, level of maintenance,
special signing (including signage for vehicle drivers where a
route is crossing a carriageway). There should be encouragement
through LTP funding to provide improved facilities (and route
continuity) on the primary routes. Advice on evaluation techniques
to assess the benefit in relation to cost of major schemes for
pedestrians (eg a new bridge) would also be helpful.
Understanding needs: In many cases there is
still a need for better understanding and appreciation of the
needs of pedestrians by highway design engineers. To really provide
pedestrian friendly facilities, the pedestrian's needs must be
considered and designed first and then the traffic access design
around that. This different way of thinking will require engineers
to acquire new skills and a different approach to planning and
design. The "Safer Routes to School" approach to identifying
need is a good example of how this should be done and Government's
New Approach to Appraisal (NATA) for new transport investment
projects will help.
7. NATIONAL WALKING
Some may argue that the need for a "National
Walking Strategy" has been superseded with the publication
of detailed advice in the Government Paper, Encouraging Walking,
along with other Traffic Advisory Leaflets on "Framework
for a local walking strategy" and "Monitoring Walking".
However, we view the absence of a definitive "National Walking
Strategy" as a missed opportunity for government to influence
local walking strategies, thus ensuring co-ordinated action across
A well-conceived "National Walking Strategy"
containing a vision, a series of objectives and targets, a suite
of performance indicators and a definitive monitoring framework,
would give local authorities the clear guidance they seek (and
a template), to expedite the development of their own strategy.
In the absence of a "National Walking Strategy", there
is the danger of uncoordinated action across the country, with
individual local authorities developing poorly conceived strategies
containing incompatible monitoring methodologies. This would make
benchmarking between local authorities and against government
"National Travel Survey" indicators difficult or impossible.
In the Government Paper, Encouraging Walking,
the advisory group proposed three national targets based on data
from the National Travel Survey, namely:
Halt the downward trend in walking
Increase to one third the proportion
of journeys where walking is the main mode by the year 2008 (28
per cent in 1996);
Increase the average distance walked
to 250 miles per person per year by 2008 (195 miles per person
but "Government decided not to adopt national
targets, which are difficult for any of us to relate to our everyday
behaviour. It does, however, see a role for local targets".
The National TravelWise Association agrees with
government that the proposed national targets are difficult to
relate to in their current form because local authorities do not
currently collect the equivalent information at the local level.
However, we do think that well-conceived National Walking Targets
and performance indicators are necessary. We see scope to develop
meaningful national targets based on travel data collected as
part of the National Travel Survey that can have equivalents in
local walking strategies. For example, the National Travel Survey
publishes information on school travel by different age groupsequivalent
information could be collected at a local level during the monitoring
of school travel plans.
There is an opportunity here for government
to address the issues surrounding the apparent uniqueness of the
National Travel Survey data. It should be possible to introduce
a standardised monitoring methodology for walking that will enable
local authorities to directly compare local with National Travel
Survey data, see previous bullet point. This would aid benchmarking.
We hope that the content of our submission is
self-explanatory. Should the Committee wish for elaboration on
any of the points made, there is willingness to attend the Inquiry.
1 HEA (1999)-Making T.H.E. links. Back
DETR (1998)-Focus on Personal Travel. Back
DETR (1998)-Focus on Personal Travel. Back