Living Streets (UK)
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Living Streets (formerly The Pedestrians’ Association and the Pedestrians’ Association for Road Safety) is the UK charity for everyday walking. Its mission is to get people of all generations enjoying the benefits that this simple act brings and to ensure all our streets are fit for walking.
For more than 85 years Living Streets has been a beacon for walking. In its early days (the charity formed in 1929) its campaigning led to the UK’s first zebra crossings and speed limits. Now Living Streets’ campaigns and local projects deliver real change to overcome barriers to walking and the charity’s groundbreaking initiatives, such as the world’s biggest Walk to School campaign, encourage millions of people to walk.
A young journalist, Tom Foley, became aware of the issue of road safety and contacted Viscount Cecil of Chelwood who was also increasingly concerned about the subject. Together they formed the Pedestrians’ Association and its first meeting was held in 1929. This was announced: The Association was formed at a meeting held in the Essex Hall, London, on August 13, 1929. The meeting was convened jointly by Messrs J.J. Bailey and T.C. Foley, and was one by private invitation to people who had written to Viscount Cecil about pedestrians’ grievances or who had written to T.C. Foley following a letter he had sent to the press.
The Pedestrians’ Association explained its purpose as follows: in view of the serious danger of motor traffic today, an association be formed for the defence of public rights, especially of pedestrians.[attribution needed]
Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, who was president from 1929 until 1944, was a high profile peer and had established the League of Nations. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937.
The following year the Road Traffic Act 1930 removed the existing 20 mph speed limit for motor cars at a time when UK road casualties were running at a rate of 7,000 per year (which is nearly three times the current rate). They also helped write the very first Highway Code which was first published in full in 1934.
During the 1930s its campaigns helped to persuade the British Government to introduce the driving test, to reinstate a speed limit for motorcars and pedestrian crossings. A speed limit of 30 mph in urban areas and for driving tests was within the Road Traffic Act 1934.
As a result of lobbying during World War Two, the association lobbied the government to amend its regulations to allow pedestrians to carry a small hand torch and to paint the sides of the road white, to increase pedestrian safety.
In 1950, following his retirement, Hore-Belisha was made vice-president. and in 1952 the organisation changed its name to the Pedestrians’ Association for Road Safety. The organisation changed its name to Living Streets in 2001
The charity has around 100 local branches and affiliated groups across the UK, and also undertakes consultancy work for local authorities.
Walk to school campaign
The charity is best known for its Walk to School campaign, which has been going for over 20 years and supports over one million children in 4000 schools to walk more. Living Streets’ WOW – year-round walk to school challenge and Walk to School Week make up the campaign, which is one of the UK’s leading behaviour change campaigns for young people.
Other high profile campaigns the charity has played an integral part in, include a recent appeal to all London Mayoral candidates (2015) to pedestrianise Oxford Street. New Mayor, Sadiq Khan has committed to carrying out this work by 2020.
Living Streets has also made headway, along with the Guide Dogs, on giving power to local authorities to limit pavement parking only to roads which need it. The charity’s work in Scotland has provoked further development, with commitment for cutting pavement parking by the current government.