London’s walking and cycling commissioner, Will Norman, has unveiled the city’s first Walking Action Plan, which sets out how it aims to make walking the most obvious, enjoyable and attractive means of travel for short trips in the capital.
The plan, which is supported by Public Health England (PHE), has an ambitious vision to make London the most walkable city in the world, with a million extra walking trips taking place each day by 2024. Part of London’s long-term ambition to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by reducing the reliance on private motorized transport, the Plan wants to see an increase from 6.4 million end-to-end pedestrian journeys a day in 2018 to 7.5 in 2024.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wants to increase the proportion of people walking, cycling and taking public transport to 80% of journeys by 2041, from the current level of 63%. As part of the program, the Mayor is investing a record £2.2bn (US$2.8bn) in streets across London, to make them better for walking and cycling while improving air quality.
Walking is an easy and affordable way for Londoners to integrate more physical activity into their daily lives. However, research shows that too many people are put off because of concerns about road danger or worries about their levels of physical fitness. The Walking Action Plan aims to help Londoners overcome these barriers by:
• Designing, building and managing streets for people on foot, by delivering better public spaces, more walking routes and more numerous and wider pedestrian crossings;
• Ensuring that walking is prioritized in every new infrastructure scheme, through London’s first ever pedestrian design guidance, and a range of other tools and analysis to support boroughs to deliver local schemes;
• Enabling thousands more children to walk to school by doubling the number of Gold-accredited STARS schools, which champion healthy routes to school, and by supporting timed road closures, car-free days and 20mph (32km/h) speed limits around schools;
• Rolling out innovative new traffic signal technology that makes it safer and easier for pedestrians to cross roads, while minimizing congestion;
• Creating new ‘Active Travel Hubs’ at London Underground stations, making it easier to walk as part of an onward journey.
“Walking is a fantastic way to get around and explore London, and getting more Londoners to walk regularly is essential for the health and future prosperity of our city,” explained Norman. “We’re investing record amounts to make walking the safest, easiest and most enjoyable way of getting around. Making it easier for Londoners to leave their cars at home and walk instead will tackle the air pollution crisis, and reduce congestion, as London’s population continues to grow. It will have a truly transformational impact on our city.”
Lilli Matson, director of transport strategy at Transport for London (TfL), noted, “London’s first Walking Action Plan, along with our commitment to deliver healthy streets, will encourage even more Londoners to make walking their first choice for short trips. This will help improve Londoners’ health, as well as air quality and traffic congestion, local businesses and the economy.”