Women in Transport member, Becki Cox tells us about her fascinating and unusual role as a Principal Technical Advisor aka “professional pedestrian” at Living Streets.
You’d think, given how often we tend to follow up ‘what’s your name?’ with ‘what do you do?, that I’d have a more comprehensive answer to the latter by now. I’ve tended to go for “I’m a professional pedestrian”, or possibly “I’m paid to look at pavements”, both of which are technically true. Either way, it tends to be a conversation starter!
Living Streets is the UK charity for everyday walking. We grew out of the Pedestrians Association, founded in 1929 by Tom Foley in response to a rising epidemic of road deaths. In our early days, we were behind the UK’s first pedestrian crossings and speed limits. 90 years on, we’re still campaigning for better road safety. Our mission being to achieve a better walking environment and inspire people to walk more.
I have had the privilege of developing the Principal Technical Advisor role during my time with Living Streets and it really is true to say that no two days are the same.
At the big picture level, I see my role as working with Local Authority officers, engineers, policy makers etc to promote walking as a transport mode; altering the prevailing perception of walking as ‘something people just do’ to a mode in its own right, requiring all the accompanying modelling, monitoring and strategic planning.
Day to day, I am everything from a project manager, spokesperson, technical expert on walking infrastructure, advocate for walking, environmentalist and advisor on crossing points on the strategic road network. I'm also a connoisseur of liveable neighbourhoods, sometimes to be found taking school children out to audit their walking route to school (dog poo is incredibly exciting, it turns out!).
Walking is so commonplace that we often take it for granted; the walking environment affects everyone, all the time. It’s right under our noses and yet all at once straightforward and deeply complex to plan for. It’s a fascinating area to work in and of ever-growing importance as issues such as climate change, public health and road safety come to the fore.
So what's the best thing about the job? My colleagues and the sense of shared mission. And the sheer diversity of work. Challenges? Changing the prevailing mindset on walking, and enabling people to do it, requires patience and creativity but there is barely a day in the office where I don’t learn something new from colleagues; being surrounded by a ‘can do’ attitude makes a big difference.
Becki is about to start a new chapter in her career and is moving to Glasgow to study for a PhD.
If you are interested in the applying for the role that she is leaving at Living Streets click here
But hurry - the deadline for applications is Friday 2nd August.