“Get walking!” Is the message from Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) for National Get Walking Day on Sunday May 27 2012. The local climate change charity has been inviting people to tell them what they feel about walking in Winchester city.  Almost all of the people who filled in the survey said that they get round the city by walking at least once a week, and often two or three times. Where do people like to walk? As you’d expect, they enjoy walking in the High Street, along the river, past the Cathedral and along quiet routes past historic walls. They also describe less well-known quiet ways into town, through Hyde and River Park, or along the railway line or through Peninsula Barracks. Where don't people enjoy walking? Along St Cross, Road, North Walls, and other roads with heavy traffic, noise and pollution.

“Traffic planners forget that walking is also a form of transport”, said Chris Holloway, Director of WinACC. “We have a vision of Winchester where the streets are for people, where people enjoy walking, cycling and getting about. We want a city where freedom of movement for all means that people can get where they want to go without having to rely on the private car. A city with reliable and affordable public transport. A city without unnecessary traffic inside the city walls. And city where moving around uses less fossil fuel and produces less greenhouse gas.”

Asked what would make Winchester a better place for people on foot, one reply summed up many people’s views: ” Less cars!  Cleaner air!  Lower car speeds!” People wanted more footpaths and pedestrian zones, more even pavements, and traffic lights that favour pedestrians, not cars. Another problem highlighted was that people on foot want to use the shortest routes, but sometimes these are hidden, and involve lots of zigzags. “Find the direct routes and make them walking friendly”, one person wrote. Narrow pavements are a problem for all, most especially people in wheelchairs or with buggies, as are the uneven surfaces and lack of safe crossings. for example when there’s a dropped payment at one side of the road but not on the other.

WinACC welcomed the Town Forum’s recent draft document on the Forum’s Vision for Winchester, and is calling on the Town Forum to create a realistic plan to make their vision into a reality. The charity– which aims to cut Winchester district’s carbon footprint by a third by 2015 (both relative to 2004) – would like to see:

1. A city centre with less traffic and congestion and better access for people on foot, cycles and buses.
2. Walking and cycling networks across Winchester that are easy to follow and get you wherever you want to go.
3. Fewer parking spaces inside the former city walls, while keeping plenty of places for disabled drivers.
4. 20mph limit throughout the city centre and its approaches, in residential and suburban shopping areas.
5. Smart Travel – workplace and school travel plans so that people use less fossil fuel and keep healthier by walking and cycling more.
6. Safe routes to schools with priority to walking and cycling.
7. More and better rail and bus services, new railway stations if appropriate, and more people using the trains.
8. Better connections between buses and trains.
9. Car clubs, car-pooling and car sharing schemes. 
10. A new business district near Winchester railway station so that fewer people need to commute by car. 
11. Greener drivers, with vehicles and arrangements for goods deliveries that are more energy efficient and produce lower carbon emissions.
12. New housing and office developments outside the city centre located near good public transport.

John Beveridge, chair of the WinACC Transport Group, said: “Everyone agrees that Winchester is a beautiful historic city. We love to stroll through the peaceful streets, enjoying Winchester’s heritage and ambience and doing our shopping. Our vision enhances the Winchester we love, would have a positive effect on its economic wellbeing and, at the same time, will help us cut our greenhouse gas emissions in the long-term interests of our children and grandchildren.”

Note to editors
  • WinACC’s walking questionnaires were given out in the Winchester Museum’s Service Leg-It exhibition in Winchester  Discovery Centre during March and April 2012, and at St Paul’s Community Fair last Sunday, 19 May. It has also been on their website for anyone to complete.
  • For further information, please contact Chris Holloway, Director, WinACC, 01962 827083 / 07779 283451 email press@winacc.org.uk  
  • Winchester Action on Climate Change was formed in October 2007 to engage every household and every organisation in Winchester district in cutting the carbon footprint of the district by a third by 2015. More at www.winacc.org.uk