London set to become world’s most-walkable city

London: The British capital has launched an action plan to become the world’s most walkable city. The ‘Walking Action Plan’, released by the mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s team earlier this week, aims to encourage a million additional walking trips each day by 2024.

“By making it easier for Londoners to leave their cars at home and walk instead, it will tackle the air pollution crisis and reduce congestion as London’s population continues to grow,” said Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner.

The action plan is being introduced alongside measures to tackle air pollution, including the launch of the world’s first ultra low emission zone introducing minimum emission standards for vehicles, spending 300 million pounds on upgrading London’s bus fleet.

Every step leads to health…

London mayor Sadiq Khan has set a target of increasing the proportion of people walking, cycling and taking public transport from 63% of journeys to 80% by 2041.

What is going to change?

Under the action plan, walking will be prioritised in new infrastructure schemes through London’s first-ever design guidance covering pedestrians, set to be introduced in 2019.

The plan includes the rollout of new traffic signal technology to make it easier and safer to cross roads, alongside the creation of ‘Active Travel Hubs’ at London Underground stations.

Under the new plan, streets will be designed, built and managed to encourage walking, with better signposting and maps, as well as new, wider pedestrian crossings.

The number of Gold-accredited STARS schools will be doubled and there will be support for timed road closures, car-free days and 20 mph speed limits around schools.

It can save 1.7 bn pounds

A research suggests that if every Londoner walked or cycled for 20 minutes a day, it would save the state-funded National Health Service 1.7 billion pounds in treatment costs over the next 25 yrs.

This includes 85,000 fewer people with hip fractures and 18,800 suffering from depression. Currently, 34 per cent of Londoners walk or cycle for 20 minutes a day.

(With agency inputs)