Dear West of England Metro Mayor candidate,
Bristol Walking Alliance is a coalition of over twenty organisations campaigning to improve the walking environment within the city. We want the Metro Mayor to take bold and visionary decisions to make cities and towns in the West of England world-class places for walking, and we seek your support.
Much of Bristol, and the rest of the West of England, is very pleasant, easy and welcoming for both residents and visitors to move about on foot. But, some parts are less so. These places can be made quite hostile with, for example, fast traffic, obstructed pavements and polluted air. These can be difficult places for any person, but, they are especially so for children, buggy pushers and people with mobility and sight impairment. We know of many cases where pedestrians are forced off pavements into the roadway and, even more sadly, where older people give up going out because their local streets are obstacle courses.
Leaders around the world are beginning to realise that by designing for walking they will have healthier, happier citizens and attract businesses and investment. Companies are increasingly looking to locate in cities that provide liveable, healthy and safe places for their employees and customers.
Progressive cities are looking to improve streets for walking by adopting a more inclusive ‘liveable’ or ‘healthy’ streets approach. Making our streets welcoming, safe, convenient and inclusive for people on foot can be popular.
We are already working closely with Bristol City Council and Avon & Somerset Constabulary as their ‘critical friend’ on measures to improve walkability and thus promote a sustainable transport mode; a proven source of good health and enhanced community cohesion. We are also building links with other walkability groups in Bath and across the West of England.
We would hope to work closely with whoever becomes the Metro-Mayor.
As well as working at this strategic level, we have good links with neighbourhood-based organisations which can spot and deal with problems as they arise, often at a minimal cost.
A list of our member groups and other information is on our website: bristolwalkingalliance.org.uk.
BWA’s asks of the Metro Mayor
BWA member groups and supporters would be very interested to hear your views on how walkability might be improved in Bristol and other parts of the new metro-area.
You will have your own ideas and priorities, but among our suggestions are:
- Appoint a walking champion within your first 100 days. This would be a senior person charged with overseeing a transformative change programme of environmental improvements to encourage people of all ages and abilities to walk more.
- Clean up the air and free up space for people. Bristol Council is already working on a clean air project. This will need to be supported and extended. Reductions in air pollution, congestion and a shift to active travel will make the West of England a healthier, safer and more attractive place for residents and visitors. We regard this as not just a transport issue, but as a central health matter.
- Invest in walk-friendly town centres and safe, uncluttered routes to schools across the West of England, thus encouraging people to take local journeys on foot, regenerate communities and bring more customers to local businesses. Our view is that significant economic benefits would follow from a significant expansion of walking as a mode of transport.
- Make our roads safer with a ‘Vision Zero’ approach that puts the elimination of road danger at the centre of the transport system, for example, with 20mph limits on streets where people live, work and shop.
- Build everyday walking into all new housing and retail developments.
We look forward to receiving your comments which we will pass on to our members and supporters.
Chair, Bristol Walking Alliance.