Friday, 14 November 2014

Carfree London: Why Not?

Canada 2004 com How is it possible to improve the quality of life in the capital, reducing pollution, congestion, the number of people killed and seriously injured in road crashes, and make London a better place for its residents, workers and visitors? There’s a campaign run by Rosalind Redhead at, or if you prefer to take the streets, there is a 'National funeral for the unknown victim of traffic violence,' a symbolic funeral march from Bedford Square to Marble Arch, on Saturday 15th November from 12:00 - 15:00.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Quote of the Week

”To travel with someone in their car, to be given a lift, is to be at the mercy of their ego; it is to be inside their ego. But to walk with someone, to converse with them while walking, is like breaking bread together.”

King for the Day, Ben Okri, on why walking is empowering…and much more.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Follow up to The Big Debate on banning cars in Brighton city centre

A few further thoughts on the Big Debate about whether cars should be banned from Brighton city centre.

A car “ban” is rarely total

“Banning cars” normally means that the city centre is accessible by automobile only to residents, taxis, police, service vehicles, and delivery vehicles.

Many great cities have implemented a ban

Cities that have banned access, as described above, include: Turin, Vienna, Salzburg, Ghent, Dubrovnik, Copenhagen, Munich, Stuttgart, Zurich, Lausanne, Geneva, Basel, Quebec City, New York Broadway in Times Square and Herald Square, Adelaide.

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Photo shows one entrance to the Limited Traffic Area (ZTL) in Turin – home of the Italian car industry (bikes are allowed).

Active Travellers spend more

The data increasingly shows that pedestrians and cyclists out-spend car borne shoppers. The most recent collected source is independent research commissioned by Living Streets, published here.

Key findings from that research:

  • Making places better for walking can boost footfall and trading by up to 40%
  • Good urban design can raise retail rents by up to 20%
  • International and UK studies have shown that pedestrians spend more than people arriving by car. Comparisons of spending by transport mode in Canada and New Zealand revealed that pedestrians spent up to six-times more than people arriving by car. In London town centres in 2011, walkers spent £147 more per month than those travelling by car
  • Retailers often overate the importance of the car – a study in Graz, Austria, subsequently repeated in Bristol found that retailers overestimated the number of customers arriving by car by almost 100%
  • Landowners and retailers are willing to pay to improve the streetscape in order to attract tenants and customers.

Active travel reduces harms and economic costs

Other economic consequences of increasing walking and cycling include:

  • reducing the impact of poor health from inactivity
  • cutting the number of casualties through measures such as 20mph defaults and similar measures
  • distributional effects from helping people to save money by choosing the cheapest ways to get about: foot and bike.

An interesting item from The Economist last year cites figures from TfL indicating that pedestrians spend an average of £373 ($571) a month, compared with £226 for drivers.

The Economist article concludes, "Ailing high streets and town centres need to win back walkers. Learning from London's incentives would be a start" and goes on to cite the 2004 plan to make London a “walkable” city.

For ‘London’, read ‘Brighton.’

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

To ban or not ban cars in the city centre – The Big Debate from Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce

Last week, the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce hosted a Big Debate on the subject, 'Business would be better in Brighton if we took cars out of the city centre.' The debate attracted a large audience to the Main Hall at City College Brighton and Hove, where speakers from the panel and from the floor covered a wide range of issues surrounding transport in the city and the effect on businesses.

Chaired by journalist and media coach Steve Bustin, the debate kicked off with four ‘points of view,’ contributed by Anthony Probert of BioRegional; Anne Martin, general manager of Brighton Pier; Martin Williams of Mayo Wynne Baxter; and Chris Todd of Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth. I was invited along to give a Living Streets perspective.

What was interesting was that, after the debate, the vote was finely balanced between the ‘ban cars’ vs the ‘don’t ban cars’ factions. The evidence that more cars don’t equal more prosperity seems to be having an effect.  Equally fascinating was the result of the final vote on the question “Do you think it’s essential to own a car in Brighton and Hove?” Not a single person said yes.

Comprehensive coverage of the debate in the Argus, here.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Walk to School: Video from Living Streets

Over 70% of today’s parents walked to school. Now, fewer than 50% of children walk to school. The Department for Transport has announced it’s cycling delivery plan, which includes a new target for 55% of primary school children to be walking to school by 2025, and is now out to consultation. Although this target was in a policy document about cycling, it’s the first time government has considered a target for walking.

70 per cent of parents

As Living Streets says, it’s essential that the target stays in there after the consultation, and then there will be a need to secure adequate funding to make the target achievable. This video from Living Streets shares some favourite memories of walking to school – the campaign will help today's children enjoy their walk to school and make some memories of their own.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Things You Don’t See from a Car: Hove goes global

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Spotted in a shop window in Hove.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Manifesto for living streets, from Living Streets

For sure, all the attention is on UKIP at the moment, what with last week’s by-elections. And it’s true that the next general election isn’t until 2015. But Living Streets has got in early with its manifesto for streets, aimed at making walking safer and easier. It’s a handy primer to the main issues and something that everyone who cares about obesity, health, pollution, safety and quality of life should look at. Not just prospective parliamentary candidates. Read it here. And don’t forget to send a copy to those wannabee MPs.

LS Manifesto