Whenever you start a new job, after congratulating you, everyone asks, ‘So what will you be doing?’ The short answer in my case was to get more people walking and enjoying being out and about. If I got the chance to explain how, there was always a light bulb moment when the person opposite realised the sense of what Living Streets is doing.
What we do is work alongside communities in towns and cities to tilt the shift back towards pedestrians. Giving the streets back to the people who use them, not just drivers. Campaigning to make sure walkers of all ages and capabilities are heard in their communities as decisions are made.
Wales' Active Travel Act
In Wales the passing of the Active Travel Act is a clear mission to create better streetscapes and encourage people to walk.
The Act will promote the benefits of active travel to address planning, health issues, safety concerns, environmental and economic challenges.
It is far reaching and a world first. And when you think about it, it makes complete sense.
Our cities and towns are congested and we are committed to reducing greenhouse gases. So let’s get people out of their cars as much as possible.
Our children need regular exercise to tackle childhood obesity. So let’s get them walking the school run twice a day.
A healthy population takes the pressure off the NHS and makes people more productive.
We want cities and towns where people feel safe, areas where they can enjoy being a part of their community.
Safe, suitable and easy routes for walking, scooting and cycling will transform the country. The Act provides us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the decline in walking and cycling trips.
Investing in behavioural change with school children is a great start as evidence shows young people who love to walk turn into adults who find walking the natural choice. Allowing implementation at a local level will hopefully mean decisions will meet the expectations and needs of the community they serve.
Putting the Act into action
Living Streets will be making the most of every opportunity to improve the walking experience of everyone here in Wales.
We will be supporting pedestrians to feel empowered to take back their streets and communities and have their voice heard at the highest levels of Welsh government.
Living Streets will be campaigning in the Welsh Assembly elections for all parties to sign up to our calls to delivery real change through the Active Travel Act to increase walking right across the country.
Getting more people out of their cars and walking as often as possible is a big challenge, but in Wales we’ve got the legislation to focus the energy and support to get it done.