Fri 4 May 2018 08.30 BST
Moving roadworks on to pavements, as the transport secretary wants to do, will worsen congestion by making it harder to walk
His idea is that cables and services should be laid under pavements and verges to cut congestion and reduce potholes. Even when pavement is only being dug up when there’s another one on the other side of the road to use, as the Department for Transport (DfT) is proposing, the plan to free up road space by making the walking environment more difficult to navigate could have the opposite effect, by reducing non-driving options.
In a week when the UK has been identified as among the worst countries in Europe for asthma death rates, and a who’s who of British cities with toxic air has been published, this would be a disastrous result. Footage taken by the former doctor and disability activist Amit Patel demonstrates that if you’re blind, a blocked pavement is a blocked pavement – even if it’s obstructed only on one side of the road. This whole idea seems yet another case of the do-nothing-to-upset -drivers attitude that does so much to hinder non-motorised transport in this country.
It takes about 20 minutes to walk a mile, or six minutes to cycle one, and yet 11% of journeys of less than a mile in the UK are made by car. This rises to 29% for journeys of between one and two miles. It is estimated in London that two-thirds of the 2.39m potentially walkable trips each day are made by car. Imagine our streets – and our air – if these trips, multiplied in towns and cities across the country, were all walked or cycled. We only need the right conditions to make those choices.