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Kiwi Shows The UK How To Walk The Walk

Monday 13 September 2004

Kiwi Shows The UK How To Walk The Walk

A new manual showing how to make vehicle-logged streets more pleasant for people is being launched in London’s House of Commons this week – and it was co-authored by a kiwi.

Steve Abley is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in Traffic and Transportation issues, he co-wrote Designing Living Streets with Edward Hill who works for UK charity Living Streets, which champions streets and public spaces for people on foot.

The document is being launched on Tuesday 14 September 2004 at 2pm (UK time).

The launch will be hosted by the MP for Cambridge, Ann Campbell (

110 people have been invited and up to 40 British Members of Parliament and Peers are expected to attend.

“Streets have lost their natural balance. We have been focusing far too much on building roads for cars to travel down with little thought given to other ways streets are used,” says Steve Abley.

“This focus on vehicles has come at the expense of people who are now finding many streets unpleasant places to be. Streets are far more than just roads – they are also places where friends and neighbours meet, places for commerce, recreation and play.”

Steve Abley says putting walkers’ needs first leads to a better environment for neighbourhoods.

“Increasing the numbers of walkers in an area results in people lingering to interact and play, it makes people feel safer and discourages crime and anti-social behaviour.”

Designing Living Streets has been written for every professional whose work impacts on the walking environment: traffic and highways engineers, planners, developers, town centre managers, street cleaners, police officers, traffic wardens, utility companies, construction companies as well as elected councillors.

“This manual is important – until now there has been no one-stop guide to creating lively, walkable neighbourhoods. I have no doubt Designing Living Streets will be widely used,” says Steve Abley.

The manual has been written for a UK audience, citing British legislation, but Steve Abley says the ideas and concepts within are applicable around the world.

Designing Living Streets pulls together the essential elements for ensuring a street is ‘walker friendly’; engineering requirements for street design and innovative ideas to help bring life to areas.

“A street can become a destination in its own right, instead of just a way of getting from A to B. However, a number of factors need to be right if people are to enjoy going there,” says Steve Abley.

“The best streets allow people to walk where they want to without competing with vehicles or businesses for space, they allow people to cross the road safely and are free of crime, litter and other nuisances.”

Steve Abley has been involved in the civil engineering industry for more than 15 years; he is the honorable technical consultant to Living Streets in the UK while living in New Zealand.

“The position is easy to maintain even though I am literally on the other side of the world. Modern communication systems and the fact we are ahead of Britain time wise help the situation.”

“I enjoy this work, it is well received in Britain where, particularly in London, many streets have become overrun with vehicles and the quality of the walking environment has lessened dramatically,” says Steve Abley.

“Vehicles have been the main consideration in street design for far too long now, people have had enough and it’s time for change. Designing Living Streets has the potential to become a backbone for that change, and I am pleased to be a part of it,” concluded Steve Abley.

For further information contact… Steve Abley 0044 7821915169

Jo Palmer Chambers PR (03) 377 0147 027 282 3360


Designing Living Streets is an extensive manual containing a wide variety of advice on street design and other ideas to make streets friendlier places for walkers.

It covers a raft of topics including how to match a street to its purpose; making it easy for walkers to cross streets; improving the condition of pavements; stopping nuisance; making streets safe; reducing the effects of traffic and bringing back street life.

Steve Abley and Edward Hill consulted a masse of documents and legislation in writing Designing Living Streets, as well as drawing on their vast knowledge of the factors needed to create walker friendly environments.

The following are three of the numerous key points of advice contained in Designing Living Streets.

Streets should be designed for more than transportation. That means pavements need to be wide enough for people to walk along comfortably with space for resting and meeting, for street furniture and traders’ displays. If necessary, space will need to be taken from the carriageway to make sure this can happen. We recommend that as much space as possible be allocated to walking and the creation of living streets. As individuals we each feel the need of a clearly defined personal space, and having ‘elbow room’ for wandering is enjoyable.

More money needs to be spent on improving the lighting at transport interchanges and at points of community concentrations, e.g. community centres, shopping parades, libraries and poorly lit public places vulnerable to vandalism, assaults and other abuses

Make places attractive to everyone and encourage street life such as news vendors and food stalls, with areas for games and performers and places to meet and talk. Street life means living streets.

Full copies of Designing Living Streets can be obtained from…


“I very much like the structure of the manual and the way it relates to current ‘best’ practice to Living Streets ‘ even better’ practice.” Julian Tollast, Director – London Terry Farrell and Partners

“The guidance is timely and will provide a useful tool for landscape architects, planners and walking officers.” Deborah Fox, Head of Standards and Best Practice CABE Space

“It successfully blends theory and practice into a very readable, interesting and useable document.” Adrian Pigott, Principal Transport Planner London Borough of Brent

“An essential, user friendly and tractable guide.” John Howe, Development Director Interpave


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