Walk21-I: London, England

 
February, 2000

 

'Talking the talk', is a necessary precondition to knowledge and understanding, and indeed to raising awareness of these issues amongst those who do not even conceptualise walking as a form of transport at all. In the past, walking - disadvantaged by its very ubiquity – has been an unexplored byway of research. 

 

However, the opportunities to exchange information and best practice on walking have grown rapidly in recent years. It was not until 1997 that the UK held its first National Walking Conference and this has since become an annual event, hosted by CAST. The growth in interest in walking in the UK has of course simply mirrored that in other countries. 

 

It was therefore not surprising that demand appeared for a global gathering - and the first was Walk21, held in London in February 2000. The Conference aimed to:

 

  • Confirm the importance of walking issues at political and policy levels

  • Provide an international platform for an inclusive discussion of walking issues

  • Acknowledge the research, practice and promotion undertaken so far and to highlight best practice

  • Identify the need for future research and opportunities for funding future networking.

Conclusions


More than 250 people attended and the feedback was outstandingly positive. The Conference reached conclusions in the fields of policy, research, resources, communications and practice.

Policy

  • Walking in cities makes for more livable cities - and the issues are of global relevance

  • Policy to encourage walking needs to focus on the naturalness and relevance of walking issues to the quality of life, not as an alternative activity

  • We have to encourage a paradigm shift in the way that policy-makers think about walking: meeting travel demands for walkers is a pre-requisite for global sustainability

  • Walking is not just fun: for many people it is essential

  • It is important to avoid a false confrontation between the environment and the economy: the new information economy depends on density, agglomeration and face to face meeting 

 

Research

  • The quality of the environment for walkers is related to the success of the city as a whole. There is thus a need to develop indicators of urban quality and economic vitality based on walking.

  • The need for future research should be explored collectively and joint projects proposed informed by the DELPHI data

  • In order better to inform policy makers, we need to clarify the wider economic issues (besides urban spend) of encouraging walking and to identify the impact these have at different scales 

Communication

  • Anti-car and pro-walking messages at the exclusion of broader issues are less likely to be effective than joined up thinking and implementation which weaves walking messages within a cross section of policy frameworks

  • To further justify the development of pro-walking policy, new thinking on economic issues needs to be communicated to specific target groups

  • More needs to be known about the motivations of walkers and health/leisure triggers need to be explored to see if they can stimulate longer term every day walking

 

Resources

  • We can design walker-friendly infrastructure for a fraction of the cost of providing large-scale facilities for motorised movement

  • Walking champions and professionals should be identified, encouraged and their needs supported within decision-making structures. They should be given the opportunity to meet regularly. Support needs to be given to their training needs and credibility given to their expertise 

  • Walking advocates should be encouraged to gain support and strength from each other. 

  • We need to join up funding as well as thinking 

Practice 

  • Metropolitan and Capital cities should explore the opportunity of developing parallel walking strategies which link across policies and implement a programme of cluster investment in good practice

  • Universal minimum standards need to be set and agreed for a good walking environment in cities making use of existing best practice.

The Sidewalk Challenge

 

(8 Steps to a Walkable City)

​(Challenge Cities)

(Challenge Tools)

(Challenge Accreditation)

(The Walkable Cities Index)

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Walk21, 24 Moorend,Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL530HD, United Kingdom

© Access Associates Limited (AAL) owns the Walk21 name and has it protected under copyright law 

Walk21 Foundation is a registered charity in England and Wales (Charity Number 1174564)

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Walk21 is the international charity dedicated to ensuring the right to walk and opportunity to enjoy it is supported and encouraged for everyone throughout the world.