The month of May is Living Streets National Walking Month and with your help we want to build a map of all the different ways in which the streets of Gosforth could be made better for walking.
We’ve included some examples and ideas below. If you know of somewhere in or around Gosforth that could be improved for walking please add it via the comments section and tell us where it is, what the issue is and/or any suggested solutions. We will add your ideas to our interactive map over the course of the month.
There are a number of ways in which streets can be made better for walking. For example:
- By making it easier to cross busy roads or other ‘barriers’ to walking such as railway lines or rivers.
- Local improvements focused on areas where lots of people walk e.g. around schools or shops or where people work.
- Changes that help children, older people or people with disabilities.
- Reducing traffic speeds – e.g. by having narrower traffic lanes and/or tighter corners – or reducing traffic volumes.
In recent posts we’ve written about improving the High Street for pedestrians, issues faced by the visually impaired and a plan for a more accessible crossing on the Great North Road, and there are plenty more places to look for inspiration.
Living Streets have written a document Creating Walking Cities – A Blueprint for Change that says we should design ‘healthy streets; that are accessible and inviting to everyone, including disabled and older people, so everyone can enjoy walking and spending time there’.
Transport for London in their Healthy Streets Guide include the following indicators for ‘healthy streets’ including being easy to cross, having shade and shelter, places to stop and rest and where people feel safe and relaxed.
The Local cycling and walking infrastructure plans technical guidance and tools released alongside the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy on 21 April also contains a long list of ideas for improving streets for walking, including how to determine and assess a walking network. The technical guidance says that walking routes should be attractive, comfortable, direct safe and coherent.
The ‘Who is the pedestrian?’ diagram at the top of this post was taken from an illustrated Charter of Pedestrian Rights drawn by Edgarseis, an illustrator and designer for sustainability, political participation, community-building, urban transport, and related projects.
The Charter sets out that as pedestrians we should have the right to:
- Cross the street calmly and safely
- A city that fits my needs
- Adequate public transportation services
- Organised urban centres
- Socialize in public spaces
- Play in the streets
- Suitable street furniture
- Spacious sidewalks
- A health environment and enjoyment of the space
- Walk calmly on the streets
Walking isn’t just good for your health. Living Streets have published research on the Pedestrian Pound that found that ‘Investing in better streets and spaces for walking can provide a competitive return compared to other transport projects; walking and cycling projects can increase retails sales by 30%.’ and that ‘Many car journeys are short and as the volume of goods purchased is small, these trips could be made on foot.’
It is also more than just being about transport. Wikipedia defines ‘placemaking‘ as creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and well being. The Project for Public Spaces says ‘Great public spaces are those places where celebrations are held, social and economic exchanges occur, friends run into each other, and cultures mix. They are the “front porches” of our public institutions – libraries, field houses, schools – where we interact with each other and government. When theses spaces work well, they serve as the stage for our public lives.’ They also have lots of advice for what makes great public space.
Please use the comments section below to tell us your ideas for how we can make Gosforth’s streets better for walking. Please try to be as specific as possible. E.g.
- What improvement is needed? E.g. slower traffic or safer crossings
- Where specifically is this needed? E.g. outside a school, or on a particular street
- If you have an idea for how the improvement might be achieved e.g. a zebra crossing or tactile paving.
You can also rate your walk on the Living Streets Website to help them build a national picture and potentially win a family city break.