Process evaluation - How could the audits be improved?

Recommendations for improving reporting

The evaluation process revealed inconsistencies across the reports and difficulty in identifying recommendations. While some local authority interview participants stated that they valued the narrative storytelling relating the perspective of more vulnerable users, most said that they found it difficult to access the key information and the reports were too long. Overall, there was a strong consensus for more concise reporting which would include a simple map and table closer to what local authorities use to develop delivery schedules. As such, the following are proposed recommendations to improve reporting:

  • Include a simple map of the route, highlighting the strategic and amenity value (e.g. show key destinations such as schools, train stations, high streets, community facilities, connections to other active travel routes etc.)
  • Include a simple table of recommendations including location, issue, and the identified community recommendation. Leave a column for the local authority partner to respond with a counterproposal
  • Standardise reporting of key information such as audit date, attendees and their roles, total number of attendees, and additional engagement events
  • Consider mapping the location of issues/recommendations onto a GIS platform which can be exported for local authority use and to a national database

Recommendations for improving processes

Overall, there is a fundamental value to the CSA/SRAs in that they represent the needs of the people who use the footway and want to use the footway as part of their daily lives. The CSA/SRAs document a strong demand for minor walking improvement measures, which are highly achievable in cost and complexity terms. Notwithstanding, the following recommendations are proposed to make the reports more impactful in terms of getting the community-identified recommendations built and in the ground as follows:

  • Improve partnership working with the local authority both before and after the audit. Strengthening collaborative working could include reviewing the audit location and timing beforehand with the local authority, coordinating across multiple services, and following up at agreed intervals to check progress
  • Strengthen the prioritisation case-building within the audit as this will likely connect to internal prioritisation and external funding criteria
  • Assess whether a more transformational approach such as a walking flagship and/or use of pop-up approaches to trial this would offer better value
  • Collect before and after walking data to make the case for prioritisation and measure impact after delivery
  • Identify different landowners related to the recommendation delivery, and explore potential co-funding through these different project partners
  • Identify potential funding pathways in collaboration with the local authority partner and other funding gatekeepers, such as a local councillor
  • Offer ongoing experiential inclusion training to local authority staff such as lunchtime talks, wheelchair or visual impairment experientials. This could also include engaging with road maintenance and asset teams, to stimulate a conversation around their contributing to the project through their service
  • Remain an enabling partner for the community stakeholders, assisting them in progressing (often low-cost) placemaking measures that may provide immediate impact and sustain their interest over the multi-year period needed for delivery
  • Recognise each local authority is different, and consider mapping critical services related to the delivery of the project with contact partners to understand this better and support project handovers over time

The above recommendations place Living Streets in a pivotal role not just in conducting the CSA/SRAs but in enabling delivery of the resulting community identified recommendations. This paints a picture of multi-year collaboration, where Living Streets staff play a quasi-project manager role, filling a current lack of capacity within local authorities to drive these small but highly impactful projects forward. While this may be viewed as an open opportunity, it would need to be met by adequate staff skill level and continuity within Living Streets to be successful at scale.

Recommendations for improving equity and fairness

Scotland is strongly committed to fairness laid out in several policies, such as the Fairer Scotland Action Plan (2016), which sets out the vision for an inclusive Scotland where everyone can feel at home. The SIMD has been an essential tool for executing the vision. The SIMD is also used in Scotland's Road Safety Framework, which gives strategic priority to addressing socio-economic disadvantage by focusing on areas of deprivation. As described in Section 5.4 above, intermediate outcome target ‘7’, is a commitment to achieving equality in casualty rates with a target of reducing the overall casualty rate for the most deprived 10% SIMD areas to the same level as the least deprived 10% SIMD areas. While the Fairer Scotland Action Plan nor the Road Safety Framework directly mention equity, there is now growing emphasis on actively addressing barriers that lead to differential access to and ability to enjoy the same rights. For example, Scotland's National Performance Framework mentions equity as part of inclusive growth.

Living Streets include diversity, inclusion, and equality in its 2020-25 strategy. There is a less direct emphasis on equity. However, the idea of 'equity in place' is described as providing everyone with the same rights and the same expectation of experience of the public realm. This is slightly different from those definitions of equity that seek to provide everyone what they need to give them access to the same opportunities. Arguably, equity is at the heart of the Living Street’s mission, given that walking has potential to be the most equitable form of transport in Scotland (Inequality in Transport (2018) Measuring Inequality).

Methodologically the CSA/SRA process could be seen as a way to operationalise the vision for equity. Through their inclusive focus and community perspective, they provide a window into the specific but different barriers faced by different social groups. Officers' increased understanding of the community perspectives was also stated as one of the main benefits of the CSA/SRA process. The focus of the audits on Disabled people, children, and older people is likely to have a much broader impact, both on other vulnerable groups and more widely through the so-called 'curb-cut' effect. The idea that by lowering the real and symbolic kerbs for Disabled people, policymakers create conditions where everyone can thrive enters the concept into a positive cost-benefit calculation.

The current focus of the CSA/SRAs on Disabled people, older people and children corresponds to a focus on physical limitations which invite a footway and road design standard to enable what is fact a population norm in Scotland. This could also be term: good design. In order to expand the equity remit of the CSA/SRAs, consideration could be given to focussing on groups who experience cultural limitations which influence how they use and experience the footway and road environment. Two key groups related to safety are women and being from a non-White minority background. Data from the Scottish Crime Survey show substantial differences in perceptions of safety walking home alone at night between men and women, with striking intersectionality by SIMD and by age (Scottish Government (2021) Scottish Crime Survey 2019/2020. Table 1.05a: QSFDARK: How safe respondent feels walking alone in local area after darkwith additional sub analysis broken down by gender by age by SIMD and urban/rural setting).

Scotland has a growing non-White minority ethnic population; a study using data from Britain found that people from a non-White ethnic minority ethnic are 25% more likely to be a casualty than white pedestrians. There is concurrence with an earlier study examining a large data set from London that deprivation alone cannot explain these differences.

Conducting CSA/SRAs with both women and non-White ethnic minorities could add important road safety both in perceived and absolute terms from this different perspective of cultural rather than mobility enabling. Within the audit process, the selection of audit locations could also help focus on equity beyond SIMD category (for example, see the equity review of low-traffic neighbourhoods). Greater collaboration with local authorities in their prioritisation processes could help give gather insights into how to approach this pragmatically, and especially to include marginalised communities where engagement with the CSA/SRA process may be low. In sum, the following recommendations are made as a starting point to broaden the equity and fairness of the CSA/SRA process:

  • CSA/SRA process provides a way to operationalise the vision for fairness and equity by identifying specific barriers faced by different social groups and increasing officers' understanding of community perspectives
  • The focus of audits on Disabled people, children, and older people can have a broader beneficial impact on other vulnerable groups and society as a whole through the "curb-cut" effect
  • Focussing on delivery of the community identified recommendations is an immediate priority from an equity and fairness perspective
  • Audit locations should be selected to focus on equity beyond SIMDs, and demand for CSA/SRAs in marginalized communities should be balanced with need and awareness raising
  • Adding a women and non-White ethnic minorities focus to CSA/SRAs would expand the road safety and equity relevance of the findings