Movement: Trends and challenges in active travel

Map of Flourishing Molendinar routes
  • Thoughtful street-scape and connection between individual developments falls short when councils don’t have a holistic plan. The best public realm requires councils to be organised, to have an agreed strategy in place and to commit to funding.
  • There’s anxiety in councils about spending money to undertake innovative projects, and risking getting it wrong. Furthermore, budgets are allocated by departments, in silos. The action of one departments’ spending can contradict or undermine the ambitions of others’. Then budget becomes the excuse not to try better. Using nudge tactics, designers and consultants should demonstrate how councils can gain with better design.
  • Developments which are created to promote active travel and make streets safer can live or die on community consultation. The Mini-Holland scheme in Waltham Forest was largely rejected by local business owners who didn’t understand the benefits due to poor council engagement. It was being done to the community, instead of for or with them. The scheme has now been deemed a massive success.
  • We need to rethink the design for modes of transport like Crossrail which doesn’t have easily accessible toilets, potentially excluding the elderly, children, menstruating or menopausal people or those with disabilities.
  • Feeling safe is different to being safe. Those who are blind or deaf perceive shared surfaces and environmental stressors differently. Where councils are asked to promote active travel, parking standards or fast-moving cars and bikes are often prioritised.
  • Transport is weighted towards working commutes rather than smaller, local trips taken majoritively by mothers, children and the elderly.
  • People sitting behind desks but not living in places can create a distance to engaging with the local area, as they do not necessarily see themselves (or are perhaps not seen) as the key audience

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The Quality of Life Foundation

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Making wellbeing central to the way we create and care for our homes and communities. www.qolf.org

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