Central London Footways6th October 2020 / Posted by Sefinat Otaru
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 and visitors to it still love to walk, but we walk much shorter distances. The average walk-all-the-way trip across London is less than 1km. 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 (20 to 30 minutes) on everyday journeys. The advisory group that supported this included CRP, officers from the Central London boroughs and input from many BIDs. The map connects London’s important destinations, mainline stations, and green spaces. This is about getting people from A to B, but in the most enjoyable and healthy way possible, using historic streets, avoiding polluted, often Victorian, main roads, and providing wonderful views of the capital’s many remarkable buildings.
The map also aims to create new ways of looking at walking. It shows how quickly journeys can be walked: Euston to the British Museum through leafy Bloomsbury in 19 minutes, compared to 17minutes by taxi and 16 by public transport. It seeks to join up the many new public realm improvements, for example from Trafalgar Square to the Museum via low traffic Seven Dials and traffic-free Princes’ Circus. Footways will make sure Londoners make the most of these transformations. And it aims to encourage exploration on foot of streets containing thousands of listed buildings as part of day to day journeys.
More people walking also means busier streets, which supports the economy and creates commercial opportunities for London’s businesses. People walking spend 40 per cent more in town centres over the course of a month than car drivers.