David Harrison: Enjoy walking and become a part of the transport revolution
- Credit: David Harrison
We are on the brink of a transport revolution, not of autonomous electric vehicles and 'smart' pavements, but the recognition that active travel, walking and cycling is essential for 21st century London.
Everyday walking is more than enjoyable exercise. It is the daily routine for shopping, meeting up and going to school, the GP and the Underground or Overground station. This is beginning to happen.
Last year, 31 per cent of Londoners chose walking rather than a different mode of transport, but the transformation will only happen on a really large scale if walking and other forms of active travel are more pleasant and easier than the alternative.
This means overturning a century of work by highway engineers, motoring organisations and politicians who created a 'city of the car'. While Mayor Livingstone introduced the congestion charge, sat navs subsequently made it easy to rat-run.
In Islington, 25 million more miles were driven in 2019 than 2013. Fifty per cent of car journeys in London are under 3km.
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Then, beginning in 2015, a remarkable new traffic scheme was introduced in Waltham Forest. Motor vehicles were stopped from using residential back streets, which became quiet and less polluted.
More and more pedestrians appeared, walking over half an hour a week more. Other councils have followed, including Islington, with its bold and enlightened People Friendly Streets policy. Now a walk from Canonbury to Angel can be a delight rather than a chore.
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Interestingly, we are not only seeing more people walking, but business journeys are changing too: Deliveroo couriers riding e-bikes and cargo-bikes, such as those used by Pedal Me, are a common sight.
Last year, a carpenter from Greenworkforce came to our house on his bike.
Create the conditions for enjoyable everyday walking and other changes, and our transport revolution will be secure.