People Friendly Streets: hope for lasting change

David Harrison's wife walking in St Peter's Street, Islington

David Harrison's wife enjoys a peaceful walk in St Peter's thanks to the People Friendly Streets initiative - Credit: David Harrison

2020 has been a remarkable year for pedestrians. 
Friends talk about their new, longer journeys on foot, and recent evidence gathered by TFL bears out their stories: an astonishing 31 per cent of Londoners have changed from a different mode of transport to walking; 57pc say they walk more for exercise; 42pc walk for longer than they did before. The big question is whether this marks a lasting change in habits or a temporary blip.
Fortunately, in Islington, People Friendly Street schemes are keeping many of our streets safe and pleasant by preventing rat running traffic while allowing vehicles to access everyone’s homes. They currently cover St Peter’s, Canonbury East and West, Amwell and Clerkenwell Green, and will be installed in Highbury in early 2021, linking up with streets which have been closed to through traffic for many years, such as Myddelton Square. This has created a network of attractive, low-pollution, walking routes, for example all the way from Canonbury to Clerkenwell. 
Neighbouring Hackney and Camden have introduced similar schemes, so starting at the Angel you can have a peaceful 45 minutes stroll all the way to Lincoln’s Inn Fields in one direction or to London Fields in the other.
The Christmas season is traditionally a time for walking, but walking is not just for Christmas. Make it your New Year’s Resolution to carry on walking to shop, work, exercise and for many other reasons. It is both healthy and enjoyable.
There are maps to help. Footways London has produced the first walking map for Central London which includes the south of the borough, and the Footways team is planning to extend this to the rest of Islington. They are keen to hear your ideas. Contact them at https://footways.london/, and find where to get a free map.

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