pedestrians walking oxford street

London’s “walking action plan” will see billions poured into infrastructure

Image credit: DT

London is introducing a “walking action plan” designed to get residents of the capital choosing walking as their primary mode of transport when possible.

The plan will see London’s streets being designed to support walking as much as possible including new infrastructure, better signposting and maps, and more pedestrian crossings.

The plan is supported by Public Health England (PHE) with the aim that Londoners will take an extra million walking trips every day by 2024.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is investing £2.2bn in the plan alongside efforts to boost cycling and improve air quality.

Ultimately it is hoped it will increase the proportion of people walking, cycling and taking public transport to 80 per cent of journeys by 2041, from 63 per cent now.

The announcement follows the planned pedestrianisation of Oxford Street which was announced last year but shot down by Westminster Council in June over concerns from local residents about the impact on their transport options. 

While walking is an easy way for Londoners to integrate more physical activity into their daily lives, research has shown that too many people are put off because of concerns about road danger or worries about their levels of physical fitness.

Under the new plan walking will be prioritised in every new infrastructure scheme and there will be a doubling in the number of Gold accredited STARS schools which champion healthy routes to school, supported by timed road closures, car-free days and 20mph speed limits around schools.

Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said: “Walking is a fantastic way to get around and explore London, and getting more Londoners to walk regularly is essential for the health and future prosperity of our city.

“Whether you’re popping to the shops or heading for the local train station, we’re investing record amounts to make walking the safest, easiest and most enjoyable way of getting around.

“By making it easier for Londoners to leave their cars at home and walk instead, it will tackle the air pollution crisis and reduce congestion as London’s population continues to grow. It will have a truly transformational impact on our city.”

Joe Irvin, chief executive, Living Streets said: “Motor traffic is our biggest source of air pollution, whilst walking is the cleanest way to get around.

“To make London the most walkable city in world, the focus has to be on reducing motor vehicle use. An astonishing one in four cars on our roads during peak times are on the school run. 

“So having an ambition for the majority of primary school children to walk to school and a million extra end-to-end walking trips a day is an important spur to action.”

The new plan follows a proposed congestion charge extension that will come into effect next year and will see the most heavily polluting cars and vans being charged an additional daily fee of £12.50 to enter the city centre from 2019. 

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