What's Driving London's Walking Boom?

London has always been a pedestrian-friendly city. But over the last decade the number of daily trips taken on foot in the city jumped by 12 percent, while walking declined nationwide. What explains the capital's pedestrian popularity?
August 5, 2013, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Gary J. Wood

"One of the largest changes in the city over the past decade is the number of pedestrians, says Michèle Dix of Transport for London (TfL), which runs the city’s transport networks." 

"Several reasons account for the walking boom," explains The Economist. These include population growth, overcrowded subways, improved wayfinding, pedestrian-friendly street designs, and health campaigns.   

"But the capital is bucking the national trend," The Economist adds. "Although in 2011 walking was up across the country, it has seen an overall decline of 27% in Britain since 1995. This is partly caused by fewer children walking to school. And while rural rambles are still popular, fewer people are walking to their weekly grocery shop. Many more are shopping online. Local authorities want to change this. Pedestrians spend an average of £373 ($571) a month, compared with £226 for drivers, according to data from TfL. Ailing high streets and town centres need to win back walkers. Learning from London’s incentives would be a start."


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Published on Saturday, August 3, 2013 in The Economist
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