Challenge is to break our love affair with the car
It sounds so simple. Encourage more people to walk short journeys instead of getting behind the wheel and you can cut congestion and pollution.
We certainly commend Friends of the Earth as it seeks to get council backing for a plan to turn Portsmouth into a ‘walking city’, with wider pavements, greenery and benches along clearly-signposted pedestrian routes.
Portsea Island’s combination of a flat landscape and compact area certainly makes walking a more attractive proposition.
Yet the biggest challenge to overcome if such a scheme is to be a success is breaking our love affair with the motor car.
The truth is that many people are extremely reluctant to be parted from their wheels.
There is an obvious temptation to drive even short distances simply because it is so convenient.
But Friends of the Earth is right to try to challenge this mindset. Because if Portsmouth’s notorious congestion keeps on getting worse, soon we’ll all be on the road to nowhere.
And if more and more cars take to the roads, where on earth will they all park?
Another benefit of encouraging people to walk is the effect on their health.
In a city with worryingly high obesity rates, anything that can be done to get people exercising more has got to be welcomed.
So we hope the city council will consider including the ‘walking city’ strategy into the Portsmouth Plan, which outlines council policy up to 2027.
We understand in these cash-strapped times that any spending would be limited.
But practical and affordable steps to encourage walking should be seriously considered.
Because doing nothing and letting the car remain king is not really an option.