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Environment work to outstrip roads - Whitby

SMALL PROJECTS to improve people's environment will dominate the workload of tomorrow's civil engineer, overshadowing traditional highway design work, ICE President Mark Whitby said this week.

Speaking at the launch of Urban Design Week on Monday, Whitby made his prediction despite government plans to build thousands of kilometres of new road under its 10 year transport plan.

'In the next 10 years there will be more work for engineers on the incremental changes in our environment than in building roads and motorways, ' he said.

Priority projects would be connected with boosting walking and cycling. Only 17% of trips made in the UK are on foot or by bike, compared with 46% in the Netherlands and 28% in France and Italy, he said.

Whitby criticised the UK's road safety record despite claims that Britain's roads are the safest in Europe. He said British roads were only safer because people walk much less in the UK.

'We shouldn't be boasting about our pedestrian accident rates. You are three times more likely to be killed in the UK, ' he said.

Whitby also praised experiments in the Netherlands where traffic lights and kerbs have been removed, putting the onus on the driver to be more responsible (NCE 4 July). He claimed that UK drivers could adapt easily to similar experiments.

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