Monday, May 19, 2014

Walking Back to Happiness

So I’m informed by Sustrans that May is National Walking month when the month is more than half gone. Still, better late than never and why restrict this subject to May? Thinking about it though, this month is quite a good choice because there are lots of people burning the shoe leather who would otherwise be trapped indoors at meetings. Purdah gives our politicians and activists a chance to get out and meet real people and at the same time get some really effective and gentle exercise to trim their waistlines as opposed to their budgets.

So if you are tempted to explore London on foot, Sustrans recommend having a look at London's walking routes, free led walks organised in promotion of the National Walking Month or Walk It which helps you plan a less busy or low pollution route.

That last point there is quite important and is possibly the reason why so many of us choose the car over walking. It cannot be that people are too busy to walk, because they are quite happy to spend hours in traffic jams or drive around for 30-45 minutes looking for a parking space rather than park in a car park and take a 5 minute stroll to their destination. They are also quite happy to walk miles in a supermarket or shopping mall with their car parked some distance away.

So, what is the problem with our streets, and in particular our High Streets? Take a look. They are not walking friendly places and what is it that traders want? Footfall, people on foot. Yet they continue to press and lobby for more car parking which drives walkers and spenders away. And our three main parties in Redbridge have caved in to the pressure with 30 minutes free parking on our High Streets – the exact opposite of what reason and evidence dictates.

See the press release from the Green Party and in particular the comments from Living Streets.
London’s high streets are part of our daily lives; they’re places where we live, work and shop. It’s not acceptable that many are unpleasant or unsafe places to walk. By taking some simple steps, borough councils can help create thriving neighbourhoods where it’s great to walk and boost local trade by up to 40%. Living Streets are calling on local parties to pledge to speak up for high streets if elected in May.
Living Streets argue that there is now an urgent need across London to protect local high streets – both to provide safer places for people to walk and to help protect community hubs. They point to research which shows that making streets better for walking can boost footfall and trade by 40%.
And then we have the Safe to school campaign from Sustrans:
We want to see a safer school run. Let’s make it happen.
We are launching this campaign because we believe that every child has the right to walk, cycle or scoot to school.
Ours could be the first generation of children who live shorter lives than their parents through inactivity. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can change the future by getting our children active and healthy – starting with the school run.
To bring about this change, we need government to commit to the following:
  • Dedicated funding – provides the resources needed to transform routes and invest in walking and cycling at the local level 
  • 20mph default speed limit across built up areas – makes everyone’s route safer 
  • Stronger duties and incentives on Local Authorities to develop routes and promote walking and cycling.
But then there is the description of me by the Deputy Leader of the current Redbridge opposition – “A man of many talents, but electability not one of them” We get what we vote for and if you don’t vote you get what somebody else voted for.


  1. Here are the 10 least happy places to live, according to Rightmove (all 10 regions are in London):

    1. East London

    2. Ilford

    Well poll reveals things aren't as nice in Ilford as the Council and Charitable Leisure Trust would have us believe. On the day of local elections??

  2. I can remember when Ilford was a place in which people aspired to live. Now it is a slum from which some people cannot (understandably) escape quickly enough.