Thursday, 16 January 2014

Should we stop talking about “pedestrians”?

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And start talking about “people on foot” or “people who walk”? In the light of the debate about grim cycling statistics, there’s a great blog post on the subject Can Saying "People on Bikes" Instead of "Cyclists" Make Biking Safer? Obviously, there’s a need for proper infrastructure for people who choose to get around under their own steam on two wheels (sometimes called cyclists - there, I nearly did it). But this post goes beyond issues of the physical (design) to the psychology (the way we think about other road users), and holds that it would be better to replace the term “cyclists” with “people on bikes.” Because whether we are on a bike, in a car, on a bus or a train or on foot – we are all people. Whatever our mode of transport, we are people on our living streets.

So we need to formulate a new taxonomy of street users – and reframe the way we use the roads. Because most journeys are multi-modal: even a car journey starts with a walk. So does it help to call us pedestrians? Surely we are people who walk. Or people on foot.

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