Walking projects must remain a priority

Last week the London Assembly Transport Committee published Walk This Way, a report on “making walking easier and safer in London”. I was very pleased to see that it treats walking as an alternative transport mode rather than just a leisure activity.

The Mayor of London has designated 2011 as the “Year of Walking” to help decrease pressure on overcrowded buses and Tubes, while improving the environment, delivering measurable health benefits, reducing heart disease and obesity and providing better public spaces for future generations.

But worryingly, Transport for London has now said that “walking programmes are among the first to face cuts”.

Islington has just taken its own step towards creating safer more pedestrian-friendly streets, by implementing the 20mph speed limit on residential roads championed by the Green Party. This is a great start, but we can do more. While large scale projects can be transformatory, simple measures to improve crossings and de-clutter footways are cost effective and can make a huge difference to the daily lives of residents.

Islington needs local politicians with the vision to invest in measures that support walking and challenge the motor vehicle domination of our streets. Let’s hope that Islington Council rises to the occasion.

– Caroline Russell, Islington Green Party, via e-mail.