Two people walking

Living Streets is calling for candidates to commit to creating #walkingcities and towns ahead of the mayoral and local elections in May. Rachel Maycock, our Head of Public Affairs, updates us on our progress.

Rachel Maycock
Walking

In the last few weeks I’ve been travelling around the UK to meet with candidates from all the major parties who are standing to become the next mayors of Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, and the Leader of Cardiff Council.

The ones we haven’t been able to meet face-to-face we’ve emailed and spoken on the phone. I’ve been talking with them about the issues people face when walking in towns and cities, what can be done to make things better and the wider positive benefits upping walking rates can have.

Nearly all of the candidates realise walking can be part of the solution to the issues facing our towns and cities. Making our cities and towns fitter for walking can help reduce air pollution, ease congestion, improve road safety, integrate public transport, support local businesses and improve physical and mental health. What’s not to love?

We are asking our future leaders to ensure that the places where we live, work, study and shop are people-friendly, welcoming, clean and safe.

Since our meetings we’ve kept in contact and proposed policy ideas and pledges that candidates can make in their manifestos. We asked our supporters to get involved too, either by writing a letter to their local papers, going along to a hustings event to ask a question to the candidates or have a say on social media.

Great news. Many candidates have now launched their manifestos and we’re proud to say our efforts have paid off - walking is featured in almost every one.  We are now hopeful that whoever wins the mayoral elections will promote and increase walking.

Walking

So what kind of pledges have they made?

In Greater Manchester

  • Green Party candidate Will Patterson has pledged to introduce a target of 60% children walking to school, try ‘car-free Sundays’ and introduce a smart road pricing scheme and appoint a Cycling and Walking Champion.
  • The Labour Party candidate, Andy Burnham has said he would appoint an Active Travel Commissioner, introduce a new Clean Air Action Plan and make public transport more accessible.
  • The LibDem candidate, Jane Brophy will encourage less polluting forms of transport, urban parks and improve and walking facilities.
  • Sean Anstee, the Conservative candidate promises to develop initiatives to make green spaces more accessible and work with local authorities to green existing communities.

In the West Midlands

  • Sion Simon, the Labour Party candidate has promised to support walking as a form of active transport to encourage more children to walk to school and bring more customers to local shops and work with all Local Authorities to promote 20mph limits in residential areas.
  • The Conservative candidate, Andy Street says he will supercharge walking, transforming the canals into superhighways for walking safely to school and work, improved signage so people know the walking options in their area.
  • James Burn, the Green Party candidate wants to reward walking and make our streets friendly to walking, he will appoint cycling and walking champions, promote ‘vision-zero’ and work with local councils to roll out 20mph speed limits where people live and shop.
  • The Liberal Democrat candidate, Beverley Nielsen says she will have a zero congestion action plan, with sustainable forms of transport and Clean Air Zones.

In Cardiff

  • Plaid Cymru promise to ‘deliver the safer, healthier routes to school that our children and their parents deserve.’
  • The Labour Party say it will ‘roll out more 20mph zones across the city to make our streets safer and ‘make Cardiff a "great active travel city.’
  • The LibDems say they will consult with pedestrians on longer crossing times and increase the 20mph zones, especially around schools.
  • The Green Party, UKIP and the Conservatives haven’t released all the details, but keep an eye out on our Twitter for updates.

Our Walking Cities campaign

We need cities designed around people not vehicles. And now's the time to put the case.

Walking Cities