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'I love feeling connected, being part of the community, and seeing life'

As part of this year's World Car Free Day, Living Streets' Jane Rickwood tells us about the joy of walking.

I learned to drive in my early 20s. It’s “a skill every girl should have”, I remember one person telling me. It is handy but to me that’s it, it’s not a necessity for living my life.

I have never owned a car, my partner has never learned to drive and we and our nine-year-old daughter get around on our feet or by train, bike and bus (in that order of preference!).

We live in Liverpool, which is a large city, and have chosen to live close to excellent public transport links. Even though we live in a terraced house in an area called the 1000 houses, greenery is only a two-minute walk away. We have two huge parks on our doorstep, a riverside park and a prom, and two more parks half an hour’s walk away.

Previous jobs gave us free public transport passes and now, thanks to my husband’s job, we all get free local rail travel so it’s very easy for us to get to town and other places. I know we’re lucky.

I’ve never considered a car because I’ve always thought it’s too much hassle. Insurance, breaking down, cost of fixing things, will it get damaged, the impact it would have on the environment and our health. It’s a no brainer.


The places we go and how we get there include:

  • The city centre (sometimes for work, big shops, theatre, bars, restaurants). It’s five minutes on the train, 15 on a bus, 15 on a bike or an hour’s walk
  • School – it’s three-minute walk along a residential terraced street. There are a few small roads to cross with lots of pavement parking and parking near corners. It’s teaching our daughter how to navigate the weird things drivers do. We get to talk about the day, practice spellings, meet other school friends and families
  • For family and friends that live nearby, it’s walking, or again, bus or train. If I’m on my own, I love any reason to get on my bike.
  • Food shopping – we have two huge supermarkets that are a 10-minute walk away, or I’ll go on my bike with two panniers, a backpack and a bungee cord for anything big!
  • If we feel we need a car, we hire one. We’ve done this sometimes when we’ve gone camping as a family, and with the dog now and again if the train ride is too long. 

What I like about walking:

  • Feeling connected, being part of the community and seeing life. When you’re walking to the shop for milk, posting a letter, taking stuff round to the charity shop, walking to school, walking the dog, taking a parcel to the post office, getting a birthday present from a local craft shop, waiting for a bus or train etc you see people doing their daily routines, see life happening, smile and nod hello, chat to strangers and parents from school, catch up with neighbours.
  • My daughter never moans about walking, it’s just normal. Even if she’s hard to shift sometimes (which is happening now she’s closer to 9!), once we’re out she loves the fresh air, being in nature, chatting with us. She can walk for miles!
  • Moving, striding, breathing deeply, looking around – and hopefully keeping fit as I approach 50 and all those weird health issues that can start as you get older.
  • When we can’t be bothered after a long day and have to walk the dog, we come back feeling revived and so glad we made the effort.
  • Buying new trainers in fab colours (raspberry currently).
  • Showing that it’s easy and can be done!

We love that our lifestyle is one we’ve chosen and that it suits us, but also helps keep the world a bit healthier too.