Considering all avenues - and all people

Rebecca Cox

May is Living Streets’ National Walking Month. This year, the charity for everyday walking is highlighting the need for our streets to be fit for nine and 90-year-olds. It says that this will make them fit for everyone.

Rebecca Cox, principal technical manager at Living Streets tells us more.

Older people and their local streets

If you are an able-bodied pedestrian, there may be many issues on the street that won’t hinder your daily life. For older people, children and those with disabilities, this isn’t always the case.

Something that may seem small to most of us can have a profoundly negative effect on those who are more vulnerable. Things like pavement obstacles, a lack of lighting and cracked pavements.

This year we’ve heard from over 65s that bad pavements are putting a third off walking on their local streets. This can lead to inactivity and social isolation – both of which can lead to significant health issues.

A lack of benches is putting a quarter off going for a local walk and two thirds are worried about the state of their local streets.

Pavements are a problem that cash-strapped local authorities aren’t always addressing. In fact, they spend just 12% of their local transport infrastructure fund on pavements; the rest goes on roads.

Here at Living Streets, we want to see an increase in the investment local authorities are putting into their local pavements so that older adults, and others, feel happier and safer walking local, everyday journeys.

Not only are older people sometimes at a disadvantage on our local streets, they often aren’t included in the process of developing new street infrastructure.

Consulting with pedestrians about our street design

Pedestrians can easily be excluded from new transport infrastructure consultations' partly because of physical exclusion related to the ‘design man’ concept but also through a process of unintentional self-exclusion, caused by a lack of identification as a pedestrian.

This stems from the perennial issue of walking not being treated as transport, which in turn, means even professionals won't necessarily treat pedestrians as transport users. There's a good chance therefore that pedestrians just won't be asked the same sorts of questions and their responses won't be treated in the same way as a cyclist or motorist.

What is the ‘design man’ concept and how does this effect other pavement users?

The 'design man' concept is an idea gaining traction; that pretty much everything on our pavements is designed based on a typical man's dimensions, perceptions and needs. It's subtle in most cases but includes things like the height of hand rails, which are often too high for the average woman.

This can, of course, also mean things that impact other groups of people just aren't thought of in the design process. For example, a lack of public toilets is more likely to be an issue for elderly people, parents and menstruating women but if there isn't a representative of any of those people at the decision making point, or if the one parent consulted just doesn't happen to mention it, things like that can get overlooked.

In using this concept, we are leaving out whole groups of people who have specific needs for their streets because we’re effectively starting from a blank slate and relying on representatives of groups to raise things.

Not an inherently bad approach but it can lead to things getting missed. If there are some guidelines or prompts in place for designers to follow, that can help ease the pressure on consultation.

Also, the more these sorts of things are present in the built environment, the more people get used to them, which widens the group of people who might think to raise them in consultations because they are raising the point on behalf of other groups.

Considering all avenues

In general, there is an issue with putting people in groups and making presumptions about their needs. For example, not all women are frightened of cycling and not all visually impaired people like tactile paving.

It's useful to have guides based on group needs but also important to presume heterogeneity and consult individuals, as well as groups.

The internet as a means of consultation is great in many ways as it can transform consultation for what were previously hard to reach groups (young people, people working, parents etc).

But there is a risk in completely throwing out more traditional consultation methods as the internet is also inaccessible to a surprisingly large amount of people - even if they technically have access, they may not feel comfortable using it.

Highways jobs

Inspector / Senior Inspector

City of Bradford MDC
£21,166 - £31,371 pa
This is an opportunity to join the Highway Maintenance team who have responsibility for maintenance of around 2,000km of adopted road network. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Traffic Management Operative/Foreman

Balfour Beatty
Are you a Traffic Management Operative/Foreman with Highspeed (12AB) Qualifications, looking for a new and exciting opportunity? If so read on..... Leatherhead, Surrey
Recuriter: Balfour Beatty

Director, Governance and Improvement

City of York Council
£87,623 to £97,149
We are looking for an exceptional individual to be appointed to the position of Director of Governance and Improvement. York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Senior Team Leader

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 to £38,994 per annum inclusive
Looking for individuals with initiative, evidence of experience in managing a street cleansing service and motivating... Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Road Safety Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£21,589 - £31,371
We are looking for a candidate who can participate in developing and delivering technically sound highway engineering solutions. Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Information Management Officer x 2 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£24,799 - £26,317
Looking for better and smarter ways to operate and you will play a key role working across a broad range of service... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Graduate Engineer

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,313 - £28,785 per annum
This is an exciting new opportunity in the Highway Services team to play a pivotal role in creating a safe and... Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Chief Fire Officer

West Sussex County Council
Competitive Salary plus Financial Support for Recruitment and Retention
We are looking for an exceptional individual who can lead our Fire & Rescue Service Chichester, West Sussex
Recuriter: West Sussex County Council

School Crossing Patrol

Brent Council
£21,591 - £22,377 p.a. inc. pro rata.
Looking for someone that is friendly, has great communication skills and enjoys working with children. Wembley, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Engineer (Highway Design)

Darlington Borough Council
£31,371 - £33,799
Looking to employ an experienced person within the Highway Design team to meet the challenge of enabling development... Darlington, Durham
Recuriter: Darlington Borough Council

Project Manager – Major Maintenance and Infrastructure Projects 

Liverpool City Council
£42,683 - £47,491 
The successful candidate will ensure that effective procurement and delivery of highways maintenance and improvement. Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Green Space Development Manager

Camden London Borough Council
£45,504 - £52,786
The successful candidate will join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team and contribute to our commitment to deliver for... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Green Space Project Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£40,829 - £47,360
The successful candidate will join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team and contribute to our commitment to deliver for the people of Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Principal Planning Officer - Fixed Term

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£39.774 - £42.684
Looking for key members of the team that will be instrumental in transforming the Borough and opportunities available for residents.  Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Career Grade Planner

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£27228 - £36711
In this role you will deal primarily with small-scale planning applications covering a wide range of planning issues. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Career Grade Planning Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£27.228 - £36.711
We offer a great opportunity to develop your career with a positive approach to development and a desire to put... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Director of Place and Communities

Ashfield District Council
As the Director for Place and Communities you will provide strategic and operational leadership across a range of key services including Waste... Nottinghamshire
Recuriter: Ashfield District Council

Highways Operative - 3 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£18,426 - £21,166 (plus 20% enhancement if working in the night team)
You will be responsible for providing effective maintenance and development of the Kirklees road network carrying out a range of highway works. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Rights of Way Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£26,470 - £28,221
The purpose of the role is to implement and advise on the maintenance, protection, improvement and promotion of access... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Road Safety and Sustainable Transport Assistant

Telford & Wrekin Council
£11.41 - £12.35 per hour
Are you passionate about Road Safety, and want to help educate road users and develop their skills? Wrekin, Telford
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Download your Highways App

Google App Apple App

Highways on Fridays

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Smart Mobility Special

New roads, new rules

Big Interview: Jim O'Sullivan

View the latest issue

Latest Video