Friday, January 16, 2009

Messages from the UK: Nurture and value cycling and walking

Nurture and value cycling and walking

Writing from the United Kingdom perspective and 30 years of work in transportation including working in Germany, India, China, Australia and a dozen other countries the most important thing to nurture and value is the cyclist and the pedestrian. These modes of transport bring significant multiple benefits including reducing car use for short journeys, reducing health damaging air pollution especially PM10/PM2.5, reducing greenhouse gases, reducing obesity, increasing physical and psychological well-being and increasing community support, cohesion and friendliness. It’s also cheap to do.

The main things to do are to civilize motorized traffic with a strictly enforced 20 mph speed limit in all residential areas, build segregated high quality walking and cycle routes that connect places people want to visit, make sure there is a supportive environment for all local facilities and services (shops, doctors, cafes, public offices, work places, post offices), plant millions of trees, de-commission 25% of car parking spaces and replace with children’s play areas and parks. High quality places that reward the pedestrian and cyclists will reconnect people with each other and with nature and with happiness and willingly and enthusiastically.

The missing ingredient (so far) is political will and the USA now has the big chance to rediscover this vital ingredient.

Professor John Whitelegg -
Founder and editor in chief of Journal of World Transport Policy & Practice
Stockholm Environment institute, University of York (UK)

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