The key focus of a pedestrian association it to motivate politicians and planners to think positively about walkability in their community and carry this approach through to all their decisions. This includes the structure of the public space, vehicle speed an parking (and the enforcement thereof) and genuine accessibility considerations, with appropriate status given to the different transport modes in the community.
Walking is such a normal and everyday activity that it might seem unnecessary to join an association to do it. While, even for many active pedestrians, it is not at all obvious what an organization focusing on pedestrian could be good for, there is huge value in bundling focus on pedestrian quality needs and actively join such an organization.
Individual pedestrians who claim their rights usually have to point out a lot of small and seemingly unimportant things: garbage bags, dog excrements and cars parked “temporarily” on the sidewalks, long waiting times at traffic lights, detours, etcetera. The local policeman may consider people who complain about such things as intolerant and stubborn sorts. But as soon as a number of persons form a pedestrian association, collect the incidents and present the cause of the pedestrian as what it is, a public interest – the situation can change. In each city the reasons for having a pedestrian association may be different, but it is clear, one is much more effective as part of an association than to be just a few individuals if complaints have to be made – and if they should have consequences.
National associations can do much more than pointing out local obstacles, they can work towards a better legal framework for pedestrians; they can influence the thinking of planners, of safety officials, the press, and the public in general. A delegate of a pedestrian association may become a member of a policy making commission or of a jury that judges projects. Often the point of view of persons in charge of taking the position of the pedestrian (including the handicapped, the elderly and the children) possesses an important expertise in solving traffic problems, and is recognized as such. A national pedestrian association has the ability to raise the awareness in all fields of interest to the individual walker: safety, security, comfort, health and respect.
International Pedestrian Organisations
On an international level, there are structures with different commissions which produce rules and standards for nearly everything, particularly everything relevant for road safety. If we manage to sit in the right places, we may influence the attitudes of governments towards the pedestrian cause.