LOCAL AUTHORITY engineers are driving pedestrians off the streets and into cars by hampering their progress around towns with too much fencing and too many staggered crossings, MPs said last week.
The cross party Environment Transport and the Regions select committee said that measures aimed at pedestrian safety can make walking intolerable and frighten the public into the comfort of their cars.
It called for fencing and staggered crossings to be scrapped in areas where traffic speeds can be reduced. 'A philosophy of danger reduction should replace the prevailing orthodoxy of accident reduction, ' said the committee in a report published last week.
Dog mess, litter and poor public management has resulted in a 20% drop in pedestrian trips over the last 12 years. 'The result of accommodating vehicle traffic has been ever worse conditions for pedestrians, ' said the report.
Falling pedestrian numbers are threatening the health of the nation, as 37% of coronary heart disease deaths under 75 are due to inactivity, double those attributable to smoking.
Urban design alliance (UDAL) chairman and ICE senior vice president Mark Whitby said:
'Most of the urban environment is not designed at all. It happens on an ad hoc basis by a series of different groups incrementally adding to and subtracting from it.' Whitby gave evidence to the committee in May (NCE 3 May).