However you look at it, a city is a big place full of people. And when it comes to creating big change, big numbers of people are powerful things.

The challenge for anyone trying to create change through the actions of many is finding roles for everyone to embrace and take ownership of.

How do we get the populations of places like Leeds, Norwich and Birmingham building a Walking Cities vision?


Young people walking together

There's no doubt you need support from those in places of influence, as Christy Acton wrote in his blog.

He talked about the importance of a walking strategy, saying "We need to be talking to council leaders, senior officers and other key city organisations to encourage them to share our vision creating a walkable city".

Change is something that many find difficult and so it's vital to find people who can lead on communicating a vision for how a city can be.

Leeds and Birmingham have been building walking strategy boards over the last year with key stakeholders who can bring experience and influence in their departments and sectors. It's only through joined-up actions of local authority and city stakeholders that change will happen.

However leadership from the top doesn't guarantee buy-in from the public.

We need to be talking to council leaders, senior officers and other key city organisations to encourage them to share our vision creating a walkable city.

Christy Acton


Our association with where we live can be strong. In an earlier Walking Cities blog post, I referenced how in the US developers are starting to respond to people's desire to live in "urban cores".

In cases like this, celebrating walkability could attract people looking for that in a city to reinforce their own identity - and it will also influence those people who already live there.

We love to talk about where we live. It's one thing that builds connection between people and the places they live but is this enough to create real behaviour change in our communities?


One of the strengths of many of the Walking Cities programmes over the last year has been how responsive they've been to local people.

In his blog post on mental health, my team-mate John gives a great example of this in Leeds, where a community-led mens walking group is doing great things.

Bill Graham, who's involved with the project says, "This is about getting these men doing an activity in a group and what could be simpler than walking? To see them doing something healthy and enjoying each others company has been pretty special. It's a simple idea having a positive effect".

The strength of this project is it seeks to meet a very specific local issue.


A friendly woman facing forwards

A successful part of the work in Norwich and Birmingham has seen neighbourhoods recruiting local walking champions.
This role has attracted a wide range of people with different experiences and backgrounds, but the one thing they all have in common is how well they know the different people and places in their neighbourhoods.

Tapping into this knowledge through Community Street Audits to shape these neighbourhood places is a key tool in transforming places for local people.

A walking champion role might not be something for everyone, but are they successfully getting their communities involved and walking more?


Since the start of our Walking Cities work in Norwich, Leeds and Birmingham, thousands of people have received the walking message and participated in led walks and activities.

However what I think is significant about all those people who've had a connection to the programmes so far is how diverse they are and how they are all have connections to different parts of their city.

This is why the points made in Hema's blog on inclusivity are so important. If we want to create dynamic walking cities that are really impacting the lives of those who live there, then they need to be inclusive and involve everyone!

People from places in our cities we're all familiar with and people who care about the places in neighbourhoods we're yet to visit.

In this Walking Cities revolution there's a role for everyone.