Our goal is to make Brighton and Hove a walkable city

Stephen Young, a leading member of Living Streets in Brighton and Hove, lectures on behavioural economics at Brighton Business School
Stephen Young, a leading member of Living Streets in Brighton and Hove, lectures on behavioural economics at Brighton Business School

Walking is free, convenient, carbon-neutral, and healthy.

It's great news that Brighton and Hove Independent has decided to spearhead a campaign aimed at making 2015 the year “when pedestrians reclaim what is rightfully theirs: the pavements.”

Ensuring that we live, work, and play in a walkable city is important because walking is free, convenient, carbon-neutral, and healthy.

As Graham Chainey pointed out in his column (page 5, January 2), the Pedestrians' Association - now Living Streets - has been campaigning on problems that affect pedestrians for many years.

From pavement parking to the proliferation of A-boards and the encroachment of café society onto our city’s footwalks, Living Streets Brighton and Hove Group campaigns to make this a walkable city - a city where people select walking as their preferred choice of travel for health and to relax and one which exhibits a high degree of "walkability".

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 07.01.21Unfortunately, none of the problems identified by Mr Chainey have simple solutions: some require effective enforcement of existing rules, some are due to ambiguous or inadequate legislation, and all are caused by individual behaviour - probably the most difficult of all things to change.

And, while the World Health Organisation has pointed out "we are all pedestrians", bear in mind that, while getting around our city is challenging for people on foot, it’s even more difficult for people with mobility problems, people with impaired vision, people pushing buggies, and people in wheelchairs.

Walking is a great way to incorporate physical activity into our lives. Walking promotes emotional and physical wellbeing - and increases social interactions. Walking is a viable mode of transport for shorter distances and an easy way to reduce pollution - another major problem facing our city.

Moreover, walking can be a major economic success factor for local business-owners and retailers. Businesses that are accessible by multiple modes of transportation - like walking and public transport - have greater economic success over the long term.

But making it easier for people to get around on foot is not just about the everyday things that Mr Chainey writes about. We also need to plan and manage the city to make it pedestrian-friendly, with interventions like reducing the speed of vehicles, or winning government grants for new plans like Valley Gardens (see page 23).

So we welcome Brighton and Independent putting its weight behind the campaign and look forward to working with everyone who wants to ensure that Brighton and Hove becomes a more walkable city.

Stephen Young, a leading member of Living Streets in Brighton and Hove, lectures on behavioural economics at Brighton Business School.

To find out more about Living Streets, visit: www.livingstreets.org.uk or email livingstreetsbandh@gmail.com