Living Streets Scotland has been the voice for pedestrians throughout its 80 year history. Keith Irving tells us about their new campaign
With our supporters we work to create safe and attractive streets where people want to walk, through our successful projects such as Walk to School Week and Walk to Work Week.
Former nanny Val Foster is 72 and lives alone in sheltered accommodation. She has arthritis and recently underwent an operation to replace a knee joint.
The pelican crossing near to Val’s home is the main route to the supermarket across a very busy road. Val finds she does not have enough time to reach the far side of the road before the ‘green man’ starts flashing.
’It’s a very busy road and cars don’t give you enough time to get across or you get a horn blaring at you. It makes you nervous and I know many of my neighbours feel the same. You want to go to the shops, but I hate using the crossing. You have to pluck up courage just to go out to get a pint of milk.’
The experience of Val and her friends and neighbours is all too common and for very good reason. Under current government guidance, pedestrians are assumed to walk at a speed of 1.2 metres per second, around 2.7 miles an hour, when local authorities calculate the amount of ‘green man’ time at crossings.
Researchers at University College London found that the majority of people over the age of 65 could not walk that quickly. The maximum walking speed for three quarters of all men in that age bracket is 0.9 metres per second, for women just 0.8 metres per second.
Consequently many older people, daunted by tackling a crossing they feel they cannot use safely, opt to stay at home and can become isolated.
The solution to enabling Val, and people like her, feel able to get out and about safely, is a simple one. Just three more seconds of ‘green man time’ would allow them to cross the road without feeling pressured, under duress or unsafe.
The guidance is due to be revised next year and as part of the review Living Streets is calling on the government to reduce the assumed walking speed to 0.8 metre per second, so pedestrians who move a little slower can enjoy their streets and neighbourhoods.