Organised by London Living Streets and the Active Travel Academy at University of Westminster, this is the first of a series of speaker meetings intended to enable discussion of policy issues relevant to walking. At our free launch event, we are asking two questions: Why is walking the poor cousin of transport policy? And what can we do about it? To help answer them, we’ll be joined by: • Maria Vassilakou, of the Austrian Green Party, who is former Vice-Mayor and Deputy Governor of Vienna, where she did impressive things to promote walking • Phil Jones, Chairman of Phil Jones Associates, who has worked extensively on both designing for walking and developing the surrounding policy • Steve Gooding, who is Director of the RAC Foundation and, as a former DfT Director General, is very knowledgeable about transport policy.
TfL has today published its first Strategic Walking Analysis which was to be launched at a joint event with London Living Streets on 16th March. The document and its associated datasets provides analyses of levels of walking , walkable trips and barriers to walking, mapping out at a granular level where the walking experience could be improved and where more people could walk.
London under lockdown has become a very different place from the one we were familiar with. The need for restricted movement and social distancing has already resulted in the postponement of a huge number of events including the launch of Transport for London’s Strategic Walking Analysis that we were due to host on 16th March.
While we are all struck by the damage that the virus is causing, we have seen a dramatic fall in air pollution as a result of the greatly reduced volume of motor traffic since the lockdown started. However, the need to maintain a safe distance has highlighted just how little of our street space is given over to walking. Narrow pavements and frequent obstructions mean that when we make our essential journeys we are often having to move into the carriageway to avoid passing close to other people. Even with less motor traffic on the roads, this can feel very uncomfortable and unsafe. Detective Superintendent Andy Cox of the Metropolitan Police along with his team of officers is doing a fantastic job to communicate that they have no tolerance for drivers who speed or break the law. We would like to see all authorities re-enforce this with a message that drivers should look out for people on the road and share the space cheerfully and with good grace.
The national Living Streets website has comprehensive advice on when and how to walk with support for those who are wanting to walk to make those vital daily trips.
The following letter appeared in The Times, 2nd May 2018
‘One of the best ways of addressing childhood obesity (letter, May 1) is encouraging children to walk to school. It is particularly unfortunate that the transport secretary plans to make this less likely by forcing utilities to dig up pavements not roads (News, Apr 30), creating a “hostile environment” for pedestrians. Should he speak to the Department for Health?’
The Evening Standard reports that Westminster’s cabinet member for Oxford Street, Daniel Astaire, has now told officials to stop working on the pedestrianisation plan for Oxford Street. At a full council meeting last week Mr Astaire said: “TfL and the Mayor are the main proponents of the changes to the street, but it belongs to the council and the decision rests with us.
Joe Irvin of Living Streets said
“Oxford Street has a horrendous casualty record and suffers illegal levels of air pollution. These problems will only be exacerbated with the additional 150,000 people expected to arrive via the new Elizabeth Line opening in December. We can’t afford to wait.
“We do not support any solution that simply pushes the problem onto neighbouring streets. That’s why from the start we have advocated for an area-wide approach that makes the whole area a safer and more pleasant place to walk, live and shop.
“Any delays to transforming Oxford Street will threaten the health and safety of everyone using London’s most iconic high street and the economic viability of the area.”