The ease with which people can get to work, shops and other services is an important part of our daily life. Trends over recent years indicate that people have been making longer and longer journeys, principally by private car, to reach these facilities. There is a conflict between lifestyle built around more frequent journeys made quickly and conveniently by car and people's desire for less pollution, less noise and less congestion which harm our environment. We can improve matters in two main ways: by locating shops and leisure facilities in town and suburban centres; and by enabling journeys to be made by modes other than car such as transport, cycling and walking.
The Institute of Transport economics (Norway) has collected information on walking and cycling in Norway and abroad. The information comprises the extend of walking and cycling, risk and traffic safety for pedestrians and cyclists and the environmental gains that would be achieved if car traffic were replaced by walking and cycling.
In Norway, considerably more than 60% of trips of two kilometers are made by car. Replacing some of these trips by walking or cycling should therefore be possible. Public transport is only relevant as a means for trips longer than three to five kilometers long.
People living in areas with developed public transport system walk and cycle more than the population in the rest of the country. This indicates that walking and cycling are much a supplement to public transport as an alternative.
Improving the Conditions
People experience improved health as the main benefit of walking. The most positive aspects of cycling are that it is fun and it is convenient. Other benefits of cycling are getting fresh air and that it is simple, inexpensive.
The most important drawbacks of walking and cycling are that it is inconvenient i.e. it takes too long and there is a limit to the distanced. Other important disadvantages are that it is impossible to carry large and heavy objects and that the infrastructure is unsatisfactory i.e. that the network for pedestrian and bicycle paths is insufficiently developed, it is difficult to cross streets, etc.
In order to implement measures to improve the situation for pedestrians and cyclists, it is reasonable to start from to the infrastructure. Developing the network of pedestrian and cycle paths, widening pavements, improving opportunities for crossing roads and streets, building subways and crossings for pedestrians and cyclists and providing a smoother road surface are measures requested by many for easier walking and cycling.
In total number of accidents may increase if trips are transferred from car to bicycle. In order to achieve the goal of increased walking and cycling and to ensure that such travel takes place in the safest possible way, safety measures targeted at pedestrians and cyclists need to be implemented.
Traffic regulation measures such as traffic signals and fences also contribute to reducing the number of pedestrian accidents.
A Better Environment and Better Health
Walking and cycling improve physical fitness and reduce morbidity* and morbidity*.
Pedestrians and cyclists are more exposed to pollution than people in cars. Currently, pedestrians and cyclists contribute to limiting pollution but emissions of air pollutants will be reduced if more people walk and cycle.