Memorandum by the Department of the Environment,
Transport and the Regions (WTC 40)
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
1. The Department of the Environment, Transport
and the Regions (DETR) welcomes the committee's decision to hold
an inquiry into walking in towns and cities.
2. DETR is responsible for promoting facilities
for pedestrians in England. The devolved administrations have
the equivalent responsibility in Scotland, Wales, and Northern
3. Responsibility for physical provision
and maintenance of footways, footpaths and other facilities for
walking in towns and cities in England rests mainly with local
highway authorities, ie county councils, unitary authorities,
metropolitan authorities and London boroughs. The Highways Agency,
an Executive Agency of DETR, is responsible as far as trunk roads
and motorways are concerned, but these are of course mainly inter-urban
rather than urban.
4. Since the mid 1980s the proportion of
journeys made on foot has fallen from 34% in 1985/86 to 27% in
1997/99. However, the proportion of journeys under a mile on foot
fell less, from 83% to 80% over the same period. The total distance
walked (including walks made as part of a journey with another
main mode) fell by a fifth from 244 miles per person per year
in 1985/86 to 191 miles in 1997/99.
5. A New Deal for Transport: Better for
Everyone, the White Paper published in July 1998, was the
first major policy statement on transport strategy for a generation.
It signalled a decisive change away from predicting and providing
for increases in motor traffic, to widening personal travel choice
by offering real alternatives. Transport 2010: the 10-year
plan, published in July 2000, announced a £180 billion
investment in all forms of transport in pursuance of this policy.
One aim is to make walking more convenient, attractive and safer
than it is at present.
6. Land use planning policy seeks
to make it easier to get about on foot in a number of ways, for
instance by promoting appropriate settlement patterns and walking
networks, promoting attractive pedestrian environments in town
centres and, through good quality design, making urban areas more
attractive to pedestrians.
7. A key objective of planning policy is
to ensure that jobs, shopping, leisure and services are highly
accessible on foot. For example, major shopping and office developments
should be focussed in town centres or within walking distance
of major public transport interchanges and other developments;
and everyday facilities should be located in local centres within
easy walking distance of housing. To make town and local centres
more attractive, planning policy guidance stresses the importance
of improving the pedestrian environment. The aim is to ensure
that the design and layout of new developments facilitates walking,
for example in new residential developments, where the emphasis
is on the quality of the place and the living environment and
giving greater priority to the needs of pedestrians.
8. The Government's Urban White Paper Our
Towns and Cities: The Future, published in November 2000 sets
out a vision of towns and cities that puts people first and offers
a high quality of life for all. It argues that we need an approach
to the design and development of urban areas that makes it practicable
to live in a more environmentally sustainable way, and calls for
patterns of development that make walking and cycling more attractive
9. Encouraging walking: advice to local
authorities was published in March 2000. Although it represents
policy in England only, it was commended to the devolved administrations.
The Government wants to see more people feeling able to make walking
a first choice, both for short journeys, and for longer distances
in combination with public transport. Encouraging walking is
a practical guide for the people charged with putting policy into
In support of the general guidance, DETR has
also published Traffic Advisory Leaflet (TAL) 2/00 Framework
for a local walking strategy aimed at helping local highway
authorities prepare their walking strategies for their Local Transport
Plans, and TAL 6/00 Monitoring Walking which summarised
the results of a study reviewing techniques available to monitor
The Highways Agency published its Accessibility
Strategic Plan Encouraging Sustainable Travel in September
2000. The plan deals with providing improvements for pedestrians,
cyclists, and horseriders.
12. As part of its integrated transport
policy, the Government has introduced a new system of planning
and providing for local authorities' capital expenditure on transport,
by means of 5-year Local Transport Plans (LTPs). The first full
LTPs were published in July 2000 and cover the period April 2001-March
2006. They were given statutory status by the Transport Act 2000.
13. The Government's Guidance on Full
Local Transport Plans published in March 2000, said that walking
should be encouraged, both for short journeys and for access to
public transport. It pointed out that walking is a low-cost, healthy
and socially inclusive way of travelling. It invited local authorities
to include local strategies for encouraging walking in their LTPs.
14. The local transport capital settlement,
announced in December 2000, provided a total of £8.4 billion
for the five years covered by the plans. Funding will rise from
some £650 million in 1999-2000 to £1.3 billion in 2001-02,
and to £1.9 billion by 2005-06.
15. The £1.3 billion for 2001-02 includes
£545 million for capital road maintenance, more than double
the allocation for 1999-2000. This covers, for the first time,
capital funding for maintenance on non-principal roads (the great
majority of roads) whose funding was previously entirely from
revenue account. This allocation will enable local authorities
to achieve a very considerable improvement in road maintenance
to the benefit of all road users including pedestrians. As the
Pedestrians' Association has pointed out, schemes for pedestrians
are often relatively small scale and inexpensive.
16. Every local highway authority included
proposals to encourage walking in its LTP and is committed to
investing money in appropriate schemes. Individual projects in
LTPs include more and improved pedestrian routes, measures to
increase personal security, targets to improve access and mobility,
particularly for disabled people, improved maintenance and plans
for reviews and audits of local authorities' approaches to walking.
It is likely that more schemes will be developed throughout the
life of the plans.
Reallocation of roadspace. The Integrated
Transport White Paper signalled a change in the policy framework
within which roadspace can be reallocated. DETR is keen to encourage
local authorities to look at all the options.
18. Measures that are already adopted include
well-planned pedestrian routes, pedestrianisation schemes and
vehicle restricted areas. The Urban White Paper also announced
a pilot scheme for clear zones. These zones might include car
free or low emission zones; and they might be associated with
new services like home delivery.
19. Home zones aim to improve the
quality of life in residential areas by making them places primarily
for people, not just for traffic. The Transport Act 2000 contains
powers for local highway authorities to designate home zones and
quiet lanes. The Secretary of State will be able to make regulations
authorising local authorities to issue use orders and speed orders
for designated home zones. The effect will be to promote the use
of the street for a variety of sociable activities, and make walking
safer and more attractive.
20. Nine pilot home zone schemes are being
monitored over a period of three years by the Transport Research
Laboratory on behalf of DETR. The monitoring project commenced
in spring 1999. The `before' surveys have been completed. Implementation
works are largely scheduled for completion by summer 2001 and
`after' surveys will follow.
21. Local authorities are free to implement
home zones, even if they are not monitored centrally, as long
as they do so within existing legislation. DETR is keen to exchange
information and experience, and is working to set up a means of
22. Interchange. Many journeys include
changing between different types of transport, for example from
train to bus. A quick and easy change is essential if sustainable
transport is to compete with the convenience of car use. In the
strategies contained in LTPs, authorities have had to consider
how changes between types of transport can be made more attractive
23. Safer Routes to Stations is a
joint project involving Sustrans, Railtrack, DETR, local authorities,
train operating companies and bus companies. The aim is to make
it easier to walk and cycle to rail and bus stations. Primarily,
this involves developing well-signed, direct and safe walking
and cycling routes, and improving existing route facilities. Twelve
pilot schemes have been started.
24. Traffic calming encourages drivers
to adjust their speed to suit local road conditions. It helps
to direct traffic on to the most appropriate roads, and improves
safety for pedestrians. One result is an improved environment
for walking. DETR has issued a body of advice on traffic calming
through its Traffic Advisory Leaflets, which are distributed free
to all local authorities.
25. Health. Walking can play a part
in improving health, as set out in the Government's White Paper
Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation. The Department of Health
recommends that all adults should participate in at least 30 minutes
of moderately intense physical activity, such as brisk walking,
five times a week. Studies have shown that walking can bring a
wide range of health benefits including reducing the risk of coronary
heart disease and stroke, lowering blood pressure, reducing the
risk of colon cancer and enhancing mental well being. The Government
supports the British Heart Foundation and Countryside Agency initiative
`Walking the Way to Health' launched in October 2000. DETR is
currently investigating a programme of joint initiatives with
the Health Development Agency which may include research-based
advice on walking and health.
26. Safety. People are more likely
to walk if there is a perception that our streets are safe. Major
improvements have been made in pedestrian safety on our roads.
The number of pedestrians killed fell 53 per cent by 1999 compared
with the 1981-85 average. Over the same period pedestrian casualties
of all severities fell by 31 per cent. Improvements in pedestrian
safety also have an important contribution to make to the national
road safety casualty reduction targets to be achieved by 2010.
27. The Road Safety Strategy, published
in March 2000, included a chapter on how we aim to improve the
safety of pedestrians, cyclists and horseriders. In the current
financial year we are making available additional grant to local
authorities to install more 20mph zones and other road safety
28. Fulfilling a commitment made in the
Road Safety Strategy, school crossing patrols have had
their powers extended by the Transport Act 2000. It enables them
to assist all pedestrians to cross roads, not just school children,
and removes the restriction on the hours during which they can
29. DETR has a programme of reducing transport
crime and fear of crime by identifying, evaluating and disseminating
good practice to public transport providers, and by identifying
and addressing the needs, fears and requirements of different
social groups. Research has been commissioned to identify effective
crime reduction measures currently in use, and also to analyse
people's fear of crime and what measures make them feel more secure.
Personal Security Issues in Pedestrian Journeys was published
in May 1999. It gives advice on best practice to transport providers
and local authorities.
30. Mobility. Everyone in society
should have the opportunity for independent mobility. The 10 Year
Transport Plan contained a commitment that access for disabled
people would be a condition of public investment. The Government
will be developing measures for evaluating accessibility in transport
systems, and in streets and public spaces. DETR is working closely
with local authorities to encourage and promote best practice
in designing pedestrian facilities without obstacles for disabled
people. Dropped kerbs, tactile paving surfaces and sensitive design
of pedestrian areas are all factors that can greatly improve the
usability of the streets and pavements for anyone with a mobility
31. Part III of the Disability Discrimination
Act 1995 may also have an impact on facilities and services in
the pedestrian environment. DETR, with the Institution of Highways
& Transportation and a number of other bodies, has commissioned
work to draw up comprehensive guidance on best practice in the
design of public transport infrastructure and the pedestrian environment.
32. Education. Education has an important
part to play in improving pedestrian safety. Through publicity
campaigns DETR works with local authority Road Safety Officers
to educate pedestrians and other road users.
33. DETR will be piloting a national network
of local schemes to teach basic pedestrian skills to 5-6 year
34. The School Travel Advisory Group (STAG)
was set up with the twin aims of reducing problems caused by car
use and congestion near school entrances, and improving safety
on the journey to school. It has taken the view that our aim should
be to return by 2010 to the level of walking, cycling and bus
use in the mid 1980s. To help meet the aims of STAG, DETR encourages
local authorities to work with schools to develop and implement
school travel plans ie packages of measures designed to reduce
car use and improve safety in the context of an individual school
or group of schools. DETR published a best practice guide on school
travel strategies and plans in June 1999. Authorities were asked
to include in their LTPs a school travel strategy and targets
for reducing car use for journeys to school. They were also asked
to say how they would work with individual schools to develop
plans, and many of them included this information in their LTPs
35. DETR has offered bursaries to local
authorities to appoint school travel plan co-ordinators. This
offer includes an element for training. In 2001-02 we intend to
commission an evaluation of the training available and skills
The Environment. The Air Quality Strategy
(AQS) for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland sets objectives
for improving air quality to protect people's health and maintain
sustainable development. Road traffic contributes to air pollution
and two of the major pollutants are particles and oxides of nitrogen.
Technical developments, for instance in engine design, have led
to reductions in some pollutants. Particulate emission concentrations
fell from 64 ktonnes to 35 ktonnes between 1990 and 1999, despite
traffic growth. Forecast studies of projection to 2010 indicate
UK particle emissions could fall to 14 ktonnes. At the same time
there is still much to be done on reducing other pollutants from
road traffic and the AQS works towards these goals.
37. A review of road users' exposure to
air pollution, published in 1997, showed that car users could
be subjected to 2-3 times the pollution levels inside their cars
compared to those experienced by pedestrians. Better provision
for walking and cycling will help to encourage people not to use
their cars for some journeys, thus reducing air pollution overall
and personal exposure to the car users. Measures to control traffic
in the interests of air quality may, if well planned, produce
a more attractive environment for pedestrians.
38. The Committee recommended that the Government's
environmental advertising should be consolidated to achieve more
impact. This has been done through the "Are You Doing Your
Bit?" campaign. Using alternatives to the car is one of the
major themes of this campaign. A message to encourage walking
was included in television and radio advertisements in 2000, and
we are planning for this to be an important theme in TV advertising
39. DETR will be publishing Education
and Training for Cycling and Walking Practitioners in February
2001. This leaflet gives information on qualifications available
and is supported by the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Institution
of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Highways and Transportation
and the Institute of Highway Incorporated Engineers.
40. In support of the Government's policies
aimed at encouraging walking, the DETR research programme includes
a number of relevant projects. Further research is planned to
establish an authoritative basis for advice on both audit of planned
changes to the transport network, and reviews of existing transport
41. Apart from the publication of guidance
to providers, and the resultant feedback, there is a need for
information exchange at a number of levels. Seminars and conferences
locally and regionally help local authority staff and other practioners
to be up to date with current thinking and to exchange ideas.
A regular series of technical meetings provides an opportunity
for relaying professional experience, and web sites will provide
access to information that is accumulating.
42. Walk 21, the first international conference
on walking, was held in London in February 2000. The conference
proceedings have been forwarded to the United Nations Commission
on Sustainable Development (CSD). DETR is also involved in preparing
an EU position paper on sustainable transport, which includes
walking. This paper will be presented to CSD for a conference
in April 2001.
43. We are all pedestrians. The convenience,
attractiveness and safety of walking is being taken seriously.
Its advantages are manifest -- as are the reasons why people have
chosen to walk less in recent years. The Government is addressing
the issues in the ways outlined in this memorandum.
Department of the Environment, Transport and the
12 January 2001