View from the street: Walks on the brighter side

Living Streets' David Harrison has been walking London.

Living Streets' David Harrison has been walking London. - Credit: Archant

In 1854, 400,000 people walked into the City of London every day. These walks weren’t the final leg of a journey from a mainline station: they were the entire commute.

Londoners still love to walk (walking is the main mode of transport in Islington), but we walk much shorter distances.

The average walk-all-the-way trip across London is less than one kilometre. This has got to change. Walking more and further is critical to tackle our health, pollution and climate crises, and to avoid contagion and relieve pressure on roads and public transport.

London Living Streets and Urban Good, with funding from TfL, has launched Central London Footways: a printed and online map that will prompt Londoners and visitors to walk longer distances on everyday journeys. The map, which goes north to Islington Green, illustrates a network of routes that connects London’s important destinations and green spaces via the city’s most welcoming and appealing streets.

This is about getting people from A to B, but in the most enjoyable and healthy way possible.

Walking can take little more time than mechanised forms of transport. It takes just 20 minutes to walk from the Angel to Smithfield and a few minutes further to St Paul’s. And any minutes lost by walking are easily made up for in terms of health and wellbeing. These walks can take in wonderful views, streets and historic sites.

The good news is that walking is getting better all the time. TfL, Islington Council and other boroughs are finding more space for people walking, building on long-established improvements such as Myddleton Square (who would open it to through traffic now?). Footways will make sure Londoners make the most of these transformations. The next step is surely a Footways Map for all of Islington.

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