People walking

2022 is set to be an exciting time for walking in Wales. Living Streets Cymru was thrilled to see the increased investment in active travel announced in the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget proposals for 2022-2023, released late in 2021.

Between 2022-23 and 2024-25, the Draft Budget sees some £220m of capital funding being allocated to Active Travel infrastructure programmes. Ruth Billingham, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs at Living Streets shares her thoughts. 

image of ruth billingham
A footpath sign in Wales

Along with our partners, Living Streets Cymru has been campaigning for more investment in active travel and so we are pleased to see that the Welsh Government has committed to over £23 per head per annum over the budget period. We hope this funding will lead to bolder active travel schemes, which will encourage more people to walk and wheel their everyday journeys. 

We have a number of priorities for walking in Wales and in recent times the Welsh Government has made progress on many of them. The opportunity for change is now and this year we hope to see plans turning into reality. Here are some of the issues and projects we expect to see progress on in 2022.

Families walking in park in Wales

Walk to school 

A generation ago, 70% of children walked to school, and now just 44% of children in Wales travel to school actively – either walking, wheeling, cycling or scooting. 

Every child should be able to walk to school safely, and enjoy the fresh air, freedom, friendship and fun that it brings. Walking to school sets healthy habits for life. 

Unfortunately, rates of walking to school have been declining in Wales in recent years. By increasing investment in campaigns such as Living Streets’ ‘WOW – the walk to school challenge’, alongside infrastructure changes, we can encourage more families to walk to school. Local authorities can now use funding to promote active travel and Living Streets is ready and willing to help local authorities in Wales to create plans for active travel which support walking to school. We are working with a number of local authorities in Wales. Around 70 schools across Wales have now signed up to take part in WOW, with 47 schools across the capital alone, and many more across the Vale of Glamorgan, Monmouthshire, Flintshire and Carmarthenshire. 

A car parked on a pavement reduces space for the family walking past on the pavement

Pavement parking 

Our research (April 2019) found that over a quarter (27%) of over 65s in Wales are prevented from walking on their local streets because of blocked pavements. We worked with the Welsh Government task force group to look into this issue and make recommendations for change. Following this review, in October 2020 it was announced that the Senedd would bring in new legislation to allow local authorities to penalise pavement parkers. This year we will continue to work with Welsh Government and our partners to make sure this is rolled out effectively so our pavements become safer for all across the nation. 

20mph on our residential streets 

The Welsh Government has committed to bring in a 20mph default speed limit on urban roads this Senedd term, which is now backed up by budget commitments. Progress has already been made with 20mph pilot activity being rolled out in 12 towns and cities across Wales. Living Streets Cymru is running research in the pilot towns and control areas to see the difference a change in speed limit can make. We are also supporting schools with active travel promotion. We are hopeful that we will start to see results this year with a change in legislation to a 20mph default limit in all urban areas across Wales in 2023. 

Families and Living Streets staff walk together along a street at the launch of WOW in Wales
A sunny track leads through trees in Wales

A Clean Air Act for Wales 

The Welsh Government’s programme of government for this Senedd term includes a commitment to bring in a Clean Air Act for Wales. We are working with our friends at Healthy Air Cymru to ensure that this year we see progress towards this, and we are pushing for a clear timetable for the legislation to be brought in. 

Local action

We have a thriving network of Living Streets Local Groups in Wales. We are now supporting groups in Swansea, Llanelli, Sully and Cardiff to take action in their area to call for improvements to their neighbourhoods to increase accessibility for disabled people, to address inequality in resource distribution and make streets safer for families. This year we will host a networking event in Cardiff as part of our National Walking Summit and we’d love you to join us. There are loads of ways you can help us turn Wales into a walking nation and there’s never been a better time to get involved.

People walking along with trees in background

Living Streets’ National Walking Summit 2022, taking place on Tuesday 22 March, will look at how we can create truly inclusive streets for all and how we ensure marginalised voices are brought into transport planning and design. Join us at our networking hub in Cardiff. 

Book your place at our National Walking Summit