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Walking benefits the economy as well as society and health

The body of evidence supporting walking impacts, once on the way to being well developed, is now being re-visited using innovative new approaches

09 November 2018
Back in 2012, the TfL board approved £30 million contribution to Crossrail’s public realm scheme to support continued regeneration at locations along the route, thanks in part to TfL’s innovative work on the value of the public realm and active modes. Transport for London is now to borrow £350m from the Department for Transport, as delays to the £15bn Crossrail project leave it facing a serious funding shortfall, but hopefully public realm quality will not be compromised
Back in 2012, the TfL board approved £30 million contribution to Crossrail’s public realm scheme to support continued regeneration at locations along the route, thanks in part to TfL’s innovative work on the value of the public realm and active modes. Transport for London is now to borrow £350m from the Department for Transport, as delays to the £15bn Crossrail project leave it facing a serious funding shortfall, but hopefully public realm quality will not be compromised

 

The work done on the pedestrian pound by Living Streets back in 2013 showed that shoppers on foot spend up to six times more than those who arrive by car, and calculated that well-planned improvements to public spaces could raise footfall and trading by up to 40%. This was accompanied by other great work, even further back in 2011, from the now defunct Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) on the value of good street design, and the former TfL Urban Design Team’s Valuing Urban Realm Toolkit which aimed to provide evidential justification for future investment in an active, non-car dominated urban realm. 

Happily, these efforts are now being re-visited in the context of innovative new work aimed at gathering evidence on the value of the pedestrian or cyclist journey ambience and the value of the ‘place’ function of urban realm spaces. New research undertaken by Tom Millard, now at Phil Jones Associates, re-visits the topic of urban realm valuation using a much larger dataset and finer spatial data. This new work shows that it is possible to build a model for the whole of London that can describe economic value (in terms of prices in the residential property market), including urban realm variables. A key transport finding from this work is that increases in accessibility levels, as defined by Public Transport Accessibility Levels (PTALS), are not valued consistently between different modes, with underground and tram accessibility yielding higher implicit values than that of bus and rail. 

There has also been new work done on walkability factors in Australia and New Zealand, which will be presented at Cycling + Walking Innovations by Martin Wedderburn of Wedderburn Associates and Walk 21, on the agglomeration effects of walkability in city centres, the wider economic impacts of active travel, and cost efficiency arguments both for the user and benefits to the public purse (in infrastructure costs saved) of switching car trips to walk/cycle – something that we in the UK tend to ignore in our project-based appraisal, notes Wedderburn. There is also a new rush of data on pedestrian factors coming from the retail and property sectors, which helps to build insight into walking opportunities and options.

Active modes are once again being taken more seriously – albeit not seriously enough – in an emerging integrated and collaborative planning approach, coming forward in the National Planning Policy Framework, the DfT’s updated appraisal guidance, the National Infrastructure Assessment and ‘Prevention is better than cure’, the new public health vision from Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. This integrated approach highlights the worrying evidence collected in a variety of recent reports that underlines the lack of sustainable and active transport options being integrated into new housing developments, an issue soon to be explored not only at this event, but also by the team at Landor LINKS across its events and publishing portfolio.

Martin Wedderburn and Tom Millard will be both speaking at the event. See the website for the full programme.

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